ESPN’s exclusive coverage of 33 college football bowl games will feature extensively an original song by two-time Grammy Award-winning musician Nelly. The song, “The Champ,” was written by Nelly specifically for the network’s game and studio shows. It will make its worldwide debut on Saturday, Dec. 17 with an ESPN and ESPN3 tripleheader beginning at 2 p.m. ET with the Gildan’s New Mexico Bowl (Temple vs. Wyoming). ESPN’s bowl coverage will conclude with the Allstate BCS National Championship (LSU vs. Alabama) on Monday, Jan. 9, at 8:30 p.m.
In addition, ESPN filmed a full-length video of Nelly performing the song to accompany various game highlights montages surrounding the telecasts. It marks the first time ESPN has produced a video of an entire original song for use during its coverage.
The song and portions of the video incorporating college football highlights will be featured in various ways during game and studio telecasts across ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com, including as part of pre-game, halftime and post-game reports; as the networks go to and return from commercial breaks; in highlight montages; and for promotions of upcoming programs and show segments.
Nelly said about the song, “’The Champ’ brings together two of my favorite things – music and sports. I’ve watched football and ESPN my whole life so to do this song was a real privilege. I hope it gets champions everywhere hyped for their big day!”
Kevin Wilson, ESPN music director added, “It was an honor that someone I respect like Nelly thought to reach out to us about this song. I’ve had the good fortune to work with many talented musicians in my role at ESPN but Nelly was the first to call and sing an unreleased song he had written to me for use on our air.”
The full version of “The Champ” will be available for purchase as a single on iTunes beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Nelly, a Grammy-winning, multiplatinum hip-hop, actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, was a standout member of the St. Louis rap collective the St. Lunatics before embarking on a successful solo career with Universal Motown Records. His first single called “Country Grammar” featuring a familiar nursery rhyme hook was followed up with a debut album of the same name that spawned three hits, spent seven weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart, scored three Grammy nominations, and sold an astonishing 9 million copies worldwide.
Ranked No. 3 on Billboard’s definitive list of the best-selling artists of the 2000s, Nelly has sold more than 30 million albums/singles in less than 10 years and is tied with Elton John for the most consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by a male solo artist.