Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared World Wrestling Entertainment an “essential” service amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, he’s defending that decision, which has been met with intense backlash, saying that “people are starved for content.”
States that currently have stay-at-home orders all include some sort of exclusion for businesses that can be deemed essential. These usually include restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and banks. But as MSNBC reports, in Florida, the wrestling company will also be open for filming and airing.
“People are chomping at the bit,” DeSantis told reporters.
“If you think about it, we have never had a period like this in modern American history where you’ve had so little new content, particularly in the sporting realm. I mean, we are watching reruns from like the early 2000s.”
He added that people haven’t had the chance to watch many new sporting events for over a month.
“People are starved for content. We haven’t had a lot of new content since the beginning of March,” he said.
So far, one WWE employee has tested positive for the coronavirus. Fans won’t be permitted to attend tapings of the events, though employees told to stay home will now be required to return to work for the company.
DeSantis has faced criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some saying that he waited too long to address the situation in his state. Many Florida beaches remained open during spring break.
After DeSantis announced that he would make an exception for sporting events of this nature, critics pointed out that the timing of the decision seemed suspect. It came on the same day that WWE president and CEO Linda McMahon’s pro-Trump super PAC announced it was investing $26.6 million in television ads in Florida and North Carolina.
As The Inquistr previously reported, DeSantis said that he made the decision after having a conversation with WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon.
The wrestling organization defended DeSantis, saying that they believed he made the right decision.
“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE told the Hill.
Both DeSantis and the McMahons are public supporters of Trump and both have ties to him.
On the same day that DeSantis made the announcement, Trump said that he was “tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old” and said that we need “to get our sports back.”