Dan Snyder (full name Daniel Marc Snyder) is the owner of the Washington Commanders (formerly the Washington Redskins and the Washington Football Team). Snyder bought the team in 1999 for $800 million.
Under Snyder’s ownership the team has been accused of sexualizing cheerleaders and soliciting them to be escorts for team sponsors and luxury suite patrons. Snyder has also been accused of attempting to dig up dirt on NFL owners to prevent investigations of the team.
15 women also told the Washington Post in July 2020 that they faced an atmosphere of pervasive sexual harassment while working for the team.
Snyder’s History Of Sexualizing Redskins/Commanders Cheerleaders
In 2000, Snyder produced the first swimsuit calendar for the Redskins cheerleaders and also created a “making of” documentary of the photo shoot called Beauty on the Beach. Snyder bought airtime on Washington, D.C. TV station WDCA-TV to air the documentary.
In 2009, the Redskins offered a contest to have bikini-clad cheerleaders wash the car of the winner of a contest offered on WTEM-AM, then the official radio station partner of the team. In a report on the contest, the Washington City Paper said Snyder had been increasingly sexualizing the team’s cheerleaders since purchasing the Redskins, “bringing the craft closer to pole dancing with every season.”
In 2011, Stephanie Jojokian, the team’s cheerleading director, told women auditioning for the cheerleader squad, “Don’t cover your chest area too much. We’ll assume you are trying to hide something.”
In 2018 the Redskins official website had a “hot or not” game featuring photos of the team’s cheerleaders so they could rate their attractiveness. The feature was pulled after the New York Times published a story about the game.
The team marketed its cheerleading squad as “the Redskinettes” and “the First Ladies of Football.”
William R. Teel Jr. Boat Trip
William R. Teel Jr. was a Washington Redskins suite holder and a local businessman whose companies Energy Enterprise Solutions and 1 Source Consulting sponsored the Redskins cheerleaders. Teel helped to judge the team’s cheerleader tryouts and was invited to buy packages to attend cheerleader photo shoots.
In 2012 Jojokian made it mandatory for cheerleaders to attend a party on Teel’s boat parked at a pier in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. Five of the cheerleaders told the New York Times that at the party men shot liquor into the cheerleaders’ mouths with turkey basters and that men handed out cash prizes in a twerking contest.
Occidental Grand Papagayo Photo Shoot, Escorting Allegation
36 cheerleaders for the Washington Redskins say they were enlisted to do a calendar photo shoot at the adults-only Occidental Grand Papagayo resort in Culebra Bay, Puerto Rico in 2013. They said that officials with the team confiscated their passports before the photo shoot.
Some of the cheerleaders told the New York Times that they were required to be topless for the shoot but that the calendar would not show any nudity. An all-male group of Redskins sponsors and owners of suites at FedEx Field (Washington’s home stadium) were allegedly allowed to get up-close access to the photo shoot.
Stephanie Jojokian, the director of the photo shoot allegedly told 9 of the 36 cheerleaders that some of the sponsors had chosen them to be personal escorts at a night club after 14 hours of the photo shoot had concluded.
One of the cheerleaders told the New York Times, “They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go.” The cheerleaders told the newspaper that the escorting did not involve sex but that they still felt they were being pimped out to the men.
“I was getting so angry that the guys on the trip were skeezing around in the background,” a cheerleader told the Times.
Lon Rosenberg, the Redskins senior vice president for operations, and Dennis Greene, the president for business operations were at the nightclub. The women said a former Redskins cheerleader was also at the club and encouraged them to drink and flirt.
The Redskins and Jojokian denied the women’s claims. Greene left the team after the allegations became public.
Larry Michael Lewd Video Claim
Larry Michael, the team’s former play-by-play announcer and vice president was accused of making a lewd video recording of outtakes of the cheerleader bikini photo shoot. The allegations were made by Brad Baker, a former team staffer.
Baker said that Michael said the video was being compiled for Snyder’s benefit. Michaels allegedly referred to the outtakes in the video showing the women nude as “the good bits.”
The Washington Post said the copy of the video they obtained “included a close-up of one cheerleader’s pubic area, obscured only by gold body paint.”
Baker told the Washington Post, “Larry said something to the effect of, ‘We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today: He needs us to get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD for him.” Snyder denied knowing about the video.
After reports of the videos surfaced, former cheerleader Ashley A. Taylor said, “I grew up in this organization and trusted them, my family trusted them, but now I feel violated.”
Attorneys Lisa Banks and Gloria Allred represented a group of former cheerleaders who pursued legal action against the team after details of the video surfaced. In February 2021 the lawyers announced that they had reached a settlement with the team for an undisclosed amount.
Michael retired from the team in July 2020.
Snyder Solicitation Allegation
Tiffany Bacon Scourby, a former cheerleader for the team, alleged that Snyder propositioned her at a 2004 charity event to join a close friend of his, Anthony Roberts, in a hotel room. According to Scourby, Snyder asked her, “Why don’t you and Tony go upstairs and get to know each other better?”
Snyder Disbanded Cheerleading Squad
Following reports about the escorting allegations, the team in March 2021 announced that they were ending the cheerleading squad. They replaced the all-woman squad with a coed dance team.
NFL Fine And Congressional Investigation
After an investigation by the NFL into the alleged culture of sexual harassment, the league announced in July 2021 that the team would be fined $10 million. Snyder removed himself temporarily from day-to-day operations of the team and put his wife, Tanya Snyder, in charge as co-chief executive of the team.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that the league “concluded that for many years the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional.”
Snyder testified in July 2022 before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight as part of the committee’s allegations into misconduct during his time as owner of the team.