BUSINESS

Jack Zito bares all on Covers.com

TAGs: Business, Covers.com, Jack Zito, Sarah Phillips, sports, sports betting

Jack Zito, Covers.comThe Covers-Jack Zito saga has taken another turn as Jack Zito himself, or at least the man who uses that “pen name”, wrote us an email. In the email, Zito shares his side of the story; he also reveals how Covers Experts operates.

“Zito” did not deny any of the things that were earlier reported, although he did clarify the “Jack Zito” is indeed a pen name and that the storage garage gig he had that coincided with his betting career was merely something he did to help his grandfather on one of his businesses. But that’s neither here nor there because the real juice lies in Zito’s revelations on the practices of Covers.com.

In his e-mail to us, Zito talked about the lack of due diligence Covers does on their hiring practices. “There was no phone interview or interview of any sort,” Zito wrote. “Absolutely zero questions asked as far as what sports I handicap, how long I’ve been doing it…they didn’t ask for any documented results….no background check, etc.”

According to Zito, the only thing Covers cared about is lining their pockets with money, and they would do so at all costs. “All Covers was worried about was getting sales,” said Zito. From the get-go, it was a barrage of marketing ploys on how to brand Zito’s page and how to hype up plays, all of which were pounded into his head.

There is nothing wrong with hyping up a new product, except that Covers insisted on using “fake promotions” to accomplish it, something Zito confirmed that they told him to do.

“They told me to make up records for my first couple of days so I could generate sales”.

As part of the contract, Zito was to receive 40% of all sales directly from Covers Experts and 25-28% of all sales from their affiliates.

But Zito didn’t do himself any favors after stumbling out of the block on his initial picks – a poor 3-9 record – and from there, the Covers-Zito experiment went downhill, giving Covers an out to abruptly pull the plug on Zito’s short-lived, five-day stint with the site.

“It couldn’t have been more clear that Covers was upset I lost a few of my bets,” Zito says. “After my first three losing days, I was told that if things weren’t turned around quick I would be removed.”

He also recounts a particularly absurd story where Covers demanded that all of his existing ‘private clients’ – “family friends, guys I randomly got connected with, etc.” – be set up accounts with them and purchase the picks on the site. “They wanted me to take a 60% sales hit so they could make more money,” Zito recalls.

Zito believes that Covers is tainting his name and telling everyone who cares to listen that he’s nothing more than a fraud. In his defense, Zito believes that Covers is only doing it to save their name, before throwing a salvo of his own, saying that the site was rampant with fake touts. Zito named David Chan and Guillermo Sanchez Perez as examples.

The Jack Zito case is only one of a growing number of instances where Covers has been embroiled in controversy. A recent – and fantastic – article written by John Kolbin on Deadspin also brought to light another case where Covers is front and center, this time involving one of their former columnists who was also an ESPN.com contributor, and alleged scam artist, Sarah Phillips.  According to Deadspin, Phillips’ rise to fame began when she was given a platform by Covers in the form of a weekly column after being nothing more than a message-board participant at the site. After her ascent to “columnist”, Phillips became the subject of questions surrounding her legitimacy, not just as a female sports bettor, but as an actual person.

The sordid details of Phillips’ scamming ways, including her rise from Covers to being tapped by ESPN.com’s Lynn Hoppes to be one of the writers of their rebranded sports page, “ESPN’s Playbook” to the extravagant scamming operation that included a number of fake individuals, bullying tactics on other people, and just plain overall deceit, will be best left to the words of DeadSpin.

The Sarah Phillips case is a lot different on the surface from the Jack Zito case. But there’s one thing disturbingly similar about both cases, and that’s the involvement of Covers.com. The Jack Zito case illustrated the underhanded lengths Covers would go to just to push sales of their programs. There wasn’t anything these guys considered out of bounds, especially when it came to money.

And far as the Sarah Phillips case goes, through all of the details revealed by Deadspin, it’s interesting that her name rose to prominence on Covers.com, where she graduated to become the same kind of dirtbag her previous employers have been for a long time now.

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