Brett Favre Claims He’s Been ‘Unjustly Smeared’ Over Alleged Welfare Scam


Brett Favre spoke for the first time Tuesday about his alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar Mississippi welfare scam—a scandal for which the Hall of Famer and former Green Bay Packers quarterback does not face any criminal charges—arguing he has “done nothing wrong” and has been “unjustly smeared” by the media.

Key Facts

In a statement to Fox News on Tuesday, Favre—who received $1.1 million meant for welfare recipients as payment for speeches and appearances he never made, according to the Mississippi state auditor—said it was “past time to set the record straight.”

Favre claimed “no one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me,” after text messages released in September as part of a civil lawsuit regarding the misuse of some $77 million of welfare funds in Mississippi in 2020 showed Favre engaged in discussions that led to $5 million in welfare funds spent on a new volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre attended and his daughter played volleyball.

Favre on Tuesday said he had “tried to help my alma mater [University of Southern Mississippi], a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center,” adding his goal was and “always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university.

He added he was “told that the legal work to ensure that these funds could be accepted by the university was done by State attorneys and State employees.”

The Hall of Famer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Big Number

$77 million. That’s how much in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds was diverted to rich Mississippians in the sprawling scheme, according to the Mississippi state audit. Six people have been charged in the case, while Favre is one of several named in a civil lawsuit filed by the state in May. Favre has paid back the $1.1 million in welfare funds the state auditor alleges he received for appearances, but the state is suing him over $228,000 in interest they say he has not paid.

Surprising Fact

A host of political appointees, former football stars, and business people have been implicated in the scandal, including John Davis, the former executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services under former Gov. Phil Bryant, who pleaded guilty in September to federal and state charges of misusing federal welfare funds that the court alleges he gave to friends and relatives.

Key Background

The $1.1 million Favre received was allegedly routed through a nonprofit called Mississippi Community Education Center between 2016 and 2018 with the help of the organization’s leader, Nancy New, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of bribery and fraud in the embezzlement scheme. According to text messages first reported on by Mississippi Today, Favre asked New if there was “anyway the media could find out” where the funds came from and how much money he was given. A pharmaceutical company called Prevacus that was developing a concussion treatment Favre had invested in also allegedly received $2.15 million in stolen funds from the scheme, Mississippi Today reported. In Tuesday’s statement, Favre claimed that state agencies provided funds to the Mississippi Community Education Center, which then gave the money to the university, “All with full knowledge and approval of other State agencies.”


The news comes a day after Bryant, who left office in 2020, was subpoenaed for years of messages with Favre regarding welfare funds that were allegedly given to Prevacus, which is now called Odyssey Health. According to the texts uncovered by Mississippi Today, Favre and Prevacus founder Jake Vanlandingham offered to give Bryant stock before the company began to receive welfare money. Bryant told Mississippi Today he didn’t read through his texts thoroughly enough to understand the offer.

Further Reading

Brett Favre denies wrongdoing in welfare case, blames media (ESPN)

Mississippi auditor says Brett Favre still owes nearly $1 million he received for speeches he did not give (Washington Post)

Former Gov. Phil Bryant subpoenaed again, this time for texts related to Brett Favre’s pharma project (Mississippi Today)

Brett Favre Scandal: Alleged $8 Million Welfare Scam, Explained (Forbes)