Abby Wambach, the American football legend who played for the women’s national team, said she cut all ties and “totally” refused to participate in the anti-seizure drug company, which is supported by Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Odyssey Health is located on the center of a Mississippi welfare fraud case involving Favre.
Wambach was on the sports advisory board of the company, which is working with Prevacus to develop nasal spray intended for the treatment of concussions. Its main investor is Favre, and the company received $2.1 million in funds to go to welfare recipients, according to a lawsuit filed by the state of Mississippi.
The first arrests in the fraud case were made in February 2020. Exactly one year later, Odyssey announced that it had acquired a concussion drug from Prevacus, and they signed a joint venture agreement.
Wambach, the world football champion and two-time Olympian, said she became aware of the “disturbing information” on Thursday after being contacted by news outlets and asked Odyssey to complete the sale before the end of the day.
Wambach leaves Favre-linked concussion company
ESPN and NBC News contacted Wambach on Thursday about her ties to Odyssey Health. Hours later, she informed everyone in a written message that she was working to shed her interest and have it “finished by the end of the day today.”
“I was dismayed this morning to learn some disturbing information about a company I supported as part of my deeply personal effort to reduce the effects of concussion-related injuries.” she said in a statement to NBC News.
In a statement to ESPN she said:
“Within minutes of becoming aware of this new information, I initiated a process to immediately and completely resign from any involvement, financial or otherwise, with Prevacus/Odyssey Health Inc., a process that I insisted be completed by the end of the day today. “.
Wambach did not elaborate on what new information she learned, and did not comment on her role and financial stake to ESPN.
“Because I sincerely believed that this company was open about a product that could save the next generation of athletes from the severe concussions that I suffered as a professional athlete, I am deeply angry, disappointed and saddened by what I learned today. Wambach said in a statement. “Despite these unfortunate developments, I will remain true to my mission to ensure that our athletes are treated better and more fairly across all areas of the sport.”
Wambach is one of many USWNT stars who working to close the gender gap in sports concussion research and raise awareness about head safety in football. She is one of the highest scoring headers in the game and hit “headline heard “around the world” in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup.
In 2016 she said that donate your brain to researchers after her death so they could examine it for a head injury. She further discussed decision on the show “TODAY” in 2018, along with Favre, former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner and former MLB catcher David Ross. The founder of Prevacus, Dr. Jacob VanLendingham, was also there.
Warner, Ross, former NFL quarterback Mark Raipin, and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci are on the Odyssey Health sports advisory board. ESPN said no one could be contacted for comment. Wambach, who joined in 2018 when Favre was the largest outside investor, is no longer listed on the site. Odyssey also has a Scientific Advisory Board and a Military Advisory Board.
Favre’s involvement in the Mississippi welfare scandal
Favre is under intense public scrutiny after about $8.1 million in Mississippi public funds was allegedly given to organizations associated with him. The total includes $1.1 million directly to Favre for public appearances he allegedly did not make, $5 million to build a volleyball building at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, and $2 million to Odyssey Health.
The lawsuit alleges that in December 2018 he called on Van Landingham to pressure Nancy New, the owner of a government nonprofit, to use Department of Human Services funds to invest in Prevacus. A meeting took place in January 2019, and over the next 10 months, a total of $2.1 million was sent to Prevacus “for the purpose of securing a ‘clinical trial site’ to be located in Mississippi,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the money was instead used to buy shares for individuals.
Favre was questioned by the FBI, his lawyer Bud Holmes confirmed to NBC News a month ago. Holmes said that Favre did nothing wrong. The former NFL star has not been charged.
Two weeks ago, text messages were released purportedly highlighting that Favre was much more involved than he let on. They show that Favre allegedly sought reassurance from nonprofit leaders that the public would never know that he was seeking millions in grants that were earmarked for low-income people in Mississippi, the poorest state in the country.
The case is much bigger than Favre, who returned $1.1 million for the performances but reportedly failed to pay the interest he still owes.