ESPN 30 for 30 Big Shot: Guide for Film on John Spano

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 22, 2013

Credit: TribecaFilm.comMike Stobe/Getty Images

ESPN's award-winning 30 for 30 film series will continue on Tuesday night with the premiere of Big Shot, a 90-minute film directed by actor and filmmaker Kevin Connolly. 

Connolly is well known for his role as "E" on the HBO series Entourage. But in addition to acting and directing, Connolly has a passion for the New York Islanders, who are the subject of the latest 30 for 30 installment. 

Big Shot tells a bizarre, real-life story about one of the biggest scams in the history of professional sports. The film profiles John Spano, a businessman from Dallas who briefly purchased control of the Islanders in the late 1990s before being exposed as a fraud. 

Let's take a closer look at what viewers can expect from Big Shot.


When: Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN


What to Expect

Big Shot revisits the New York Islanders' glory days in the early 1980s, when the franchise won four consecutive Stanley Cup titles. In his bid to acquire the Islanders, Spano promised to bring that same type of success to Long Island, N.Y., when the team was at its worst in the mid-1990s. 

After agreeing to purchase the franchise from long-time owner John Pickett for $165 million in the fall of 1996, Spano became seen as the Islanders' savior and quickly energized the fan base with promises that would never be fulfilled.

Just months after duping Pickett and the NHL into believing he had enough funds to take over ownership duties, Spano was exposed by Newsday's John Valenti, who documented the extent of the Ohio native's lies and tricks in his attempt to get to the top, according to the film summary.

Further investigation revealed that Spano didn't possess even a small fraction of the money required to close the deal and that he had told significant lies about his net worth.

Spano was ultimately charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and forgery. He plead guilty and was sentenced to 71 months in prison. 

According to Newsday's Neil Best, Spano said that it was "insane" and "comical" that anyone would have wanted to make a film about him, but admitted that his story is "crazy." The 49-year-old, who is now working as a salesman in Ohio, was interviewed for the film, and his presence certainly lends to the quality of the story told in Big Shot.


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