Is Sarah Phillips for real? Thirteen months ago, she was an unknown message-board participant at Covers.com, a gambling website. Then Covers plucked her from the boards and gave her a weekly column, sight unseen. Five months after that, she was tapped by Lynn Hoppes, an editor for ESPN.com, to write a weekly column for ESPN’s Page 2—once the home of writers like David Halberstam, Ralph Wiley, and Hunter S. Thompson, and which has now been rebranded as ESPN’s Playbook. The swiftness of her ascent gave her that weird sort of internet half-celebrity whereby she became moderately famous before anyone really knew who she was.
Or before anyone was sure that she existed at all. In message boards over at Covers and websites like Beyond the Bets, you’ll still see questions about things that should be elementary: Is she actually in her 20s? A college student? Does she actually gamble as much as she’s claimed? Why doesn’t she ever appear on videos or podcasts? Has she harassed people? Is she actually a scammer? Is she really who she says she is?