As one of ESPN's most popular sideline reporters, Erin Andrews has the job sports fans dream about. But in June 2009, this reporter was thrust into the headlines after a Peeping Tom secretly videotaped her naked in a hotel room. The video was posted online, and reports say it was searched nearly 300 million times before her attorneys demanded its removal.
Furious and humiliated, Erin refused to comment publicly—until now. She says it will be her only interview about the ordeal. "It's been a nightmare," Erin says. "I'm ready to wake up."
Erin was working out of town when she received a call from a concerned friend. "He said: 'You need to check this out. People are saying this is you on the Internet naked,'" she says. "I laughed at him. And I could tell he got really upset and he just said, 'Erin, you've got to take a look.'"
As the rumors persisted, Erin decided to check for herself. "I opened up the computer, could hear my heart pounding, saw it for two seconds and got hysterical," she says.
Erin called her parents first. "I kept screaming: 'I'm done. My career is over. I'm done. Get it off. Get it off the Internet,'" she says. "They thought I was physically injured, [that's] how bad I was screaming."
Since that day, Erin says she often feels paranoid and anxious. "If I'm in a hotel or in my house, I feel like I'm being videotaped," she says.
With her help, law enforcement is narrowing the scope of its investigation. "I do know that I am a victim of a stalker, because we know that this happened in at least two rooms," she says. "I was getting ready to go work a college football game in at least one of the videos I was able to identify."
Though her lawyers are working to remove every trace of the video, Erin says officials have told her it's an uphill battle. "I was told by law enforcement, 'You're just going to have to get used to the fact you'll probably never get it all off,'" she says. "It keeps popping up."
The images have also been used in the continuing media coverage of Erin's story, which she says makes her relive the situation over and over again. "There was no need to show those. I'm a crime victim," Erin says. "Help us find this person. Help us understand why this could happen."
The Internet may have turned Erin's life upside down, but she's also found strength online. "I have had a number of victims just say: 'Please fight this because you seem to have the power, and we didn't have the voice. And if you can, do it,'" she says.
With football season in full swing, Erin says she's eager to step back onto the sidelines. "I feel like it's really going to help me heal the wounds ... but you worry," she says. "I'm going to be surrounded by a lot of people that are at games cheering [and] really don't care what I think about having the video—and you know people are going to say stuff."
Erin says she's also ready to confront her fears about life on the road. "I think it will always make me feel nervous. But I also feel it's my duty to come out and show this person: 'You know what? I worked hard for my career, and I got there the right way, and you're not going to break me down,'" she says. "I also feel it's my responsibility for these women and other victims of video voyeurism to just come out and say: 'Look, I'm going to show my face. I'm going to get back to work. Let's do it. You can too.'"