Former ESPN writer Sarah Phillips is involved with one of the most confusing, twisting journalism related stories ever.
On Tuesday Deadspin wrote a story entitled, Is an ESPN columnist scamming people on the Internet? which looked into whether the gambling writer for the worldwide leader in sports was actually a real person and into her involvement in Internet scams.
Less than 90 minutes after Deadspin published its piece, an ESPN spokesman told the popular sports website that it had ended its freelance relationship with Phillips.
The Deadspin piece is more than 5,000 words and details a lot of shadiness on Phillips' behalf, but one of the most bizarre aspects of the ordeal is Phillips using multiple different pictures of what appear to be different people as her column photos.
The controversy begins with her debut column at Covers.com where she uses three different pictures of herself within the story. From first glance the photographs used in the initial column do not match the photos Phillips used when she made the move to ESPN.
She went from a blonde to a brunette and looked like a totally different person. The reason for the drastic change appears to be that she actually was a different person in the initial photographs.
The blonde in her initial photos has been identified as Ivy Smith, an Oregon hairdresser, according to multiple people on Twitter. In her initial column she points to the picture as Sarah, but Larry Brown Sports discovered Smith's MySpace account and the two pictures seem to match up.
That could mean that Phillips just used a fake picture from the beginning, as she seemed to suggest on Twitter, or that perhaps this is the elaborate scheme of someone behind the scenes using pictures of attractive females as part of a business strategy.
The most recent digging up by Awful Announcing and other Internet sleuths shows that a Phillips does appear to exist. Phillips reportedly graduated from an Oregon area high school in 2007 and photographs from her school yearbook have been posted online.
That information makes the story even more confusing and complicated, but it seems to somewhat confirm that she exists.
But it still doesn't answer a lot of the questions that Deadspin and others have raised.
Still at least one debate can be answered through her pictures. Is the woman pictured in the initial Covers column the same as the one that was writing for ESPN? You be the judge.
The initial image Phillips used on her Covers column Covers
A screen grab of a recent YouTube video that Phillips posted. YouTube
The image banner on Phillips' column at ESPN. ESPN
A recent photo of Sarah Phillips. Twitter