Danica Patrick divorcing husband Paul Hospenthal after seven years of bliss

(Photo credit: GoDaddy)

Danica Patrick is divorcing her husband after seven years of marriage.

The 30-year old NASCAR driver announced Tuesday on her Facebook page she’s splitting with Paul Hospenthal, a 47-year old physical therapist she married in 2005 after he treated her for a yoga injury.

Patrick’s still an advertising star on Madison Avenue, endorsing GoDaddy, Tissot watches and other corporate sponsors. She’s appeared in more Super Bowl TV commercials than just about any athletic endorser.

We’ll see how her breakup impacts her brand. My take is it won’t — at all. Apart from natural curiosity about the 17-year gap in their ages, Hospenthal stayed away from the spotlight. Said Patrick on her Facebook page:

“I am sad to inform my fans that after 7 years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage. This isn’t easy for either of us, but mutually it has come to this. He has been an important person and friend in my life and that’s how we will remain moving forward.”

Despite speculation GoDaddy would move on from Patrick after hiring new ad agency Deutsch, the marketer says Patrick’s still set to star in two TV spots during CBS’ telecast of Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013. More on Patrick’s racing and advertising career via ESPN:

Patrick just completed her first full season in NASCAR, running the full Nationwide schedule and 10 Sprint Cup Series races after leaving IndyCar.

Earlier this month, Patrick had her best finish in nine Cup starts this season, finishing 24th at Texas and running every lap for the first time. Tony Gibson was Ryan Newman’s  rew chief for Stewart-Haas Racing, but is moving to Patrick’s team next season. They got a head start with her final two races this season and she finished 10th in Nationwide points, becoming the highest-finishing female driver in the history of NASCAR’s three national series. The previous record was held by Sara Christian,  who finished 13th in 1949 in the Cup series.

On Monday night, Patrick won the Nationwide Series’ most popular driver award, which is voted on by fans, and she remains one of the most recognizable drivers in auto racing. Patrick challenged for the Indy 500 win as a rookie, becoming the first woman to lead laps while finishing fourth. She was a career-best third in 2009.

There was speculation that her appeal with advertisers had waned, but earlier this month Go Daddy said Patrick will again appear in the website domain provider’s commercials during the Super Bowl next year. Patrick and Go Daddy first teamed up when the company became an associate sponsor for her IndyCar in 2007. Go Daddy became the primary IndyCar sponsor in 2010, along with a partial NASCAR schedule, and followed her for the full Nationwide Series and limited Sprint Cup schedules this year.

Go Daddy has committed to sponsor the Cup schedule next season, when Patrick moves up to NASCAR’s top level on a full-time basis.

GoDaddy’s marketing shtick is to create racy, sexy spots with Patrick that will be rejected by Super Bowl broadcasters. GoDaddy then tries to drive viewers to watch these “too hot to handle” ads on its web site. It’s getting old by now, but it still works. For example:

McCarthy freelances for Newsday on Rutgers’ jump to Big Ten

I was proud to write my first story for Newsday Tuesday. I went out to Rutgers’ campus to cover the announcement all sports are jumping to the Big Ten from the Big East.

While there, I interviewed my old friend from the TV business, Tim Pernetti, who’s the AD at Rutgers, and the guy most responsible for pulling off this move. It should prove to be a financial windfall for Rutgers — even if the Scarlet Knights are going to have to step up recruiting and pay more for travel and facilities if they want to compete on the field with the Ohio States and Michigans.

Pernetti said fans should possibly expect some games at MetLife and even Yankee Stadium when Big Ten powerhouses such as Ohio State and Michigan come to the East Cost to play the Scarlet Knights.

“We’re going to look at our opportunities. I want to be a good partner to my new colleagues in the Big Ten. So if we can move a  game on an infrequent basis to MetLife Stadium or to Yankee Stadium to help create new visibility and exposure for this conference in the East, east, we are absoulteyly going to look at it and we are very likely going to do it,” Pernetti said.

I also ran into the great SNY anchor Chris Carlin. We talked about what’s next after Rutgers and Maryland jumping to the Big Ten. Will Big East schools with strong basketball traditions such as St. John’s and UConn bolt the conference too? Whatever happens next, the pace of changes in college sports has become dizzying, even for media folks who cover it every day.

“You really have to keep your head on a swivel,” Carlin said.

The one guy missing at the presser, noted NBC sportscaster Bruce Beck, was Greg Schiano, now head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Knights coach Schiano did as much as anyone to revive a dead-in-the-water football program that went 1-11 in 2002 and posted winning records in six of his last seven years through 2011.

Here’s my story in Newsday, a great newspaper.

Sports Biz USA’s Sage Steele interview featured in Deadspin

Our candid, one-on-one interview with ESPN anchor Sage Steele was quoted in John Koblin’s of Deadspin’s eye-opening feature story on the Worldwide Leader’s obsession with New York Jets backup QB Tim Tebow.

My favorite line in Koblin’s Deadspin piece: “SportsCenter covered Tebow’s 25th birthday like a moon landing.”

Imagine ESPN’s coverage if Tebow ever actually starts for the Jets?


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