When the COVID pandemic shut down sports in March 2020, Annie Agar’s budding career as a TV sports reporter in Rockford, Michigan, came to a screeching halt.
At 24, she moved back in with her parents and spent much of her time wondering what to do with her life. On Mother’s Day 2020, the avid sports fan was struck with an idea to parody a Zoom meeting between Big Ten college football programs trying to figure out how they could hold a season.
The video went viral — and a social media star was born.
Now, Agar is a leading sports content creator, as well as an NFL and college football correspondent with Bally Sports.
Agar has 350,000 followers on TikTok, 240,000 on Twitter and 88,000 on Instagram, and her weekly videos recapping NFL games have garnered millions of views.
Sports Section’s Chris Kuc caught up with Agar to talk about her past, present, and future in sports media.
Sports Section: We both live in Chicago. Are you a fellow Bears fan?
Annie Agar: I’m a Packers fan, so you’re not going to like me.
Sorry, we need to cut this interview short…
And it was going so well…
Let’s forge ahead anyway. Were you always primarily focused on football?
My dad actually played for the Tigers in the minor leagues for a couple of years, and when he and my mom got married, he always said, “I want to have a sports family.” They used to joke about having nine kids so that they could have a baseball team.
My brother, John, has cerebral palsy, and he and I really bonded over talking about sports because he’s the biggest sports fan — way bigger than me, which is shocking.
When I was in high school I wanted to do sports reporting, and from the start I wanted to work for ESPN.
I got a degree in sports broadcasting from Grand Valley State University, and in my sophomore year I started working at my local news station on an internship. I ended up working there for two years after I’d graduated.
And then COVID hit, and a lot of people in local news were struggling because everything that they covered — especially sports — was no longer happening. So I was out of a job and trying to figure out what to do. On Mother’s Day 2020, I had this idea to do a Big Ten Zoom meeting because I knew the Big Ten had to be trying to figure out how to get the football season up and going.
In the Big Ten, Michigan and Michigan State fans and the organizations absolutely hate each other, and then when you throw in Ohio State, I figured those Zoom meetings had to be super-entertaining. I thought it would be fun to show it in a video. I had just gotten on TikTok and thought that would be a great avenue to use to get the video out there.
So I shot the video on Mother’s Day, and within a day my phone was blowing up. It was the craziest thing.
So that first video goes viral, and you’re thinking that this could go somewhere?
Yes. I saw COVID in kind of a different way than some might: I knew people were missing out on the laughter sports can bring by poking fun about how your team is doing, so I saw an opportunity to hopefully help bring people out of this dark cloud and remind them it’s OK to laugh.
How did it become a job?
My agent and I find companies I can align with, that I feel like their message is my message, and I’m able to share their stuff, and we do make money off that.
It’s been great because I want to keep going with the comedic side of things, but I also want to show people that I can report as well. So aligning with these companies is a great way to show that I can be professional and funny when I need to be, and get their brands out there as well.
Is it almost surreal how your life has changed since that first video went viral?
Yeah, it’s unbelievable. I didn’t think this was possible, but I kind of knew this was what I wanted to do, and I always had my goal set at this high standard of wanting to impact people and reach out to as many people as I can.
How much research do you do for your videos?
I spend all of my Sundays watching RedZone, and then Sunday night I go live with my Bally co-host, Sarina Morales, on a Twitter stream, recapping the games in a funny, light way. Then I start prepping for Monday. On Monday, I wake up, go over everything, then try to come up with concepts and jokes by seeing what people are talking about, and then I shoot my recap video.
How long do they take to shoot, edit, and produce?
It takes about three-to-four hours to shoot a video, and then editing is pretty quick because I shoot it all on TIkTok. It’s super-easy and the quality is good, and I can edit it quickly.
You take a lot of shots at teams. What kind of feedback do you get?
A couple of NFL teams follow me on TikTok. What’s funny is the Cardinals reached out and asked when they were going to make it into a video. They were undefeated at the time, and I responded saying, “You guys realize you have to do something wrong to be in my video, right?”
A great part of your videos are your constant costume changes. How many jerseys do you have in your closet?
Oh my gosh, so many. The cool thing was NFL teams started sending me gear, then I had followers reach out to me and say, “You have to stick with the logos because that’s what makes it funny.”
So for probably 75% of the NFL teams I have a jersey, and then for a couple I still have these makeshift logos — because fans reached out saying it’s funny when they fall off or just look taped on.
Are you planning on branching out to other sports?
I think our next move is college basketball. I did a lot of March Madness stuff last year, and fans really liked that.
But the NFL will pick back up again soon after the season with the draft and then free agency. The NFL is my focus year-round — it will just be a little less intense for a while.
Is the ESPN dream still alive?
I have a great relationship with ESPN because I did a video with Adam Schefter, and then I had my own segment on “NFL Sunday Countdown.”
I’m trying to figure out where I can bring the comedic side of sports to a higher level and hope that eventually I’ll be able to come up with an idea for what’s next.
What’s your Super Bowl prediction?
All you need to know is that the Packers are going to win the Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers one last time.
Click here for Annie Agar’s Week 18 NFL video.