30 for 30 (2009– )
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In 1996, the once-dominant New York Islanders were in serious trouble. Lousy performance and poor management were driving away the hockey franchise's loyal fan base. The team hit bottom. ... See full summary »


Kevin Connolly

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Episode credited cast:
Vanessa Jova ... Gold Digger
Rick Pugliese Rick Pugliese ... Himself
Paul Weissman Paul Weissman ... John Spano


In 1996, the once-dominant New York Islanders were in serious trouble. Lousy performance and poor management were driving away the hockey franchise's loyal fan base. The team hit bottom. Then along came a Dallas businessman named John Spano, who swooped in and agreed to buy the team for 165 million dollars. Things began to look up for the Islanders - way up. But it was all smoke and mirrors. Big Shot goes inside an extraordinary scandal that engulfed the Islanders. Featuring the only interview Spano has ever given about the Islanders deal, this film is an unforgettable tale of a dream that became a lie - and how a scam of such epic proportions initially went undetected. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

22 October 2013 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

ESPN Films See more »
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Did You Know?


Director Kevin Connolly is a lifelong New York Islanders fan. See more »


References Slap Shot (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

Portrait of a sociopath.
24 December 2014 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Guys like John Spano are really not that rare--prisons are full of them. HOW and WHAT he did, however, is highly unusual and worth seeing. This con artist managed to fool a lot of people--as sociopaths are likely to do. But, unlike the normal garden variety sociopath, this guy managed to buy the New York Islanders--even though he was worth very, very little. You'd expect a team owner to be worth at least $100 million and folks THOUGHT Spano was...because he was an incredibly good liar and created a long series of lies which briefly convinced folks in New York that he was going to save the franchise. In hindsight, people believed in Spanos because they really wanted to believe in him and his supposed dreams.

As you watch this meticulously crafted program, you see lots of insiders talking about Spanos. This is no surprise. What IS a surprise is that Spano himself allowed himself to be interviewed for the film. I actually appreciated this--not because he could adequately explain why he was an antisocial personality, thief and habitual liar--but because he STILL minimized and excused his behaviors! So, while occasionally he said things like "I am 100% responsible", he also said a lot that showed he was a nasty piece of work. Among my favorite things he said were "...I represented things that were not actually factual" (a nice way of saying he LIED) and "I thought with my heart and not my head" (no, you thought about stealing and capitalized on OTHERS thinking with their hearts). All in all, a great show for psychotherapists to watch to help them understand about the criminal mind and how convincing they can be--even when confronted. Oh, and AFTER he was caught trying to steal the team, Spanos went on to get arrested for MORE frauds. Big surprise.

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