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Retired U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach began cutting ties on Thursday with a joint venture linked to NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre that received millions of dollars in Mississippi welfare funds, hours after NBC News contacted her about the matter.
Wambach told NBC News in a statement she has “initiated the process to immediately and fully divest myself from any involvement — financial and otherwise” with Odyssey Health Inc. and Prevacus, two firms jointly touting a nasal spray designed to treat concussions. Her statement came hours after NBC News called her to ask about her involvement in the controversial venture.
Odyssey Health Inc. did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Wambach told NBC News via text, “This morning, I was dismayed to learn disturbing information about a company I had backed as part of my deeply personal effort to lessen the impact of concussion-related injuries.”
Wambach wrote that she insisted the divestment “be complete by end of day today.”
Wambach did not elaborate on what new information she learned.
The drug, known as PRV-002, was developed by a company called Prevacus, run by CEO Jake VanLandingham. Prevacus sold the drug to Odyssey Health in 2021 and VanLandingham became the head of drug development of Odyssey Health. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing from 2021, Prevacus and Odyssey signed an agreement for a joint venture to develop the drug.
Prevacus and VanLandingham were sued by the state of Mississippi in May 2022 in an effort to recoup $2.1 million in federal welfare funds the company received — money that was supposed to be used to help low-income children and families in the nation’s poorest state.
Text messages filed in court and first reported by Mississippi Today show the money went to the company after Favre solicited help from then-Gov. Phil Bryant, including an offer to Bryant of stock in the company.
“Don’t know if legal or not but we need cut him in,” Favre texted a company official, referring to Bryant, adding three days later: “Also if legal I’ll give some of my shares to the Governor.”
In an interview with Mississippi Today in April, Bryant said he didn’t accept the offer because it would not have been appropriate. But he acknowledged that after he left office, he agreed by text to accept stock in the company. Bryant instead cut ties with the firm after the state auditor issued a report that exposed the improper welfare spending.
Wambach was among several former athletes who joined Favre in trying to help the company market its drug, which has not completed the FDA approval process.