In September 2011, ESPN was rolling out its new documentary about Herschel Walker — but the man of the hour wouldn’t be at the big premiere because, he said, he had real work to do.
“I have to head back to Arkansas for a sales meeting at my chicken factory,” Walker told ESPN at the time. “I have a regular job. I have to go back to work.”
Walker emphasized that there was much more to him than the star football player who won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Georgia and played in the NFL.
“They don’t know that I have this food service company; I have a drapery company and I supervise six hospitals around the United States,” he said.
But the reason not many people know about Walker supervising hospitals around the country is because it doesn’t appear that he ever did. It’s part of a pattern by Walker where he embellishes his business record and misstates facts about his personal history.
Walker, who is now running as a Republican Senate candidate in Georgia, has frequently talked about his interest in mental health and health care over the years. In 2008, he wrote a book about living with dissociative identity disorder, which was once known as multiple personality disorder. And during the current campaign, he again talked about his struggles with mental health after reports resurfaced about allegations of violence toward his ex-wife.
While promoting his book in 2008, there were multiple news articles that said Walker was financing or helping to start up a network of hospitals around the nation.
“Walker said he is working with medical professionals to set up a network of hospitals. University Behavioral Health in Denton, Texas, is the first of those. Another is scheduled to open in El Paso, Texas, in May. Land in San Francisco has just been acquired for a third hospital,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in April 2008.
Another article in the Macon Telegraph in August 2008 reported that Walker “has opened three medical treatment centers in Texas and San Francisco.”
But there is no evidence that Walker ever supervised or started hospitals or medical centers. His personal financial disclosure forms, which have already been amended multiple times, do not indicate he ever owned or ran hospitals.
What there is proof of is Walker serving as a spokesman for a company — which appears to be out of business — called AscendHealth Corporation. Walker’s 2021 personal financial disclosure indicates United Health Services, AscendHealth’s parent corporation, paid him $331,589. His 2022 disclosure does not list any income, but says he worked for the company as a “Mental health awareness ambassador.”
On April 20, 2008, AscendHealth put out a statement touting the release of Walker’s new book. A few months later, in August, the company called him a “spokesperson” for AscendHealth in another statement.
Walker’s relationship with AscendHealth continued for years. In 2010, a press release further touted his role as a spokesman, saying the star football player had been “named the official spokesman for a special mental health outreach by University Behavioral Health of Denton, an Ascend Health Corporation mental health hospital.”
In a profile captured on 2014, Walker again touted his role as a spokesman for AscendHealth but added that he was “part owner of seven United Behavioral Health facilities located around the country.”
AscendHealth opened its Denton facility in 2005 — three years before he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was working to set up a network of hospitals, including in Denton. That same year, 2008, AscendHealth’s website listed four locations in Texas and one in Oregon.
Walker’s campaign did not return a request for comment clarifying his role in the medical industry. HuffPost also reached out to members of AscendHealth’s former leadership team, none of whom responded.
Walker has repeatedly misrepresented his accomplishments. He has talked about how he worked in law enforcement — but he didn’t. He has also claimed that he was an FBI agent, but in reality, he spent a week at an FBI school in Quantico, Virginia. Being an FBI agent also requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, which he does not have.
He has also inflated his business record, exaggerating the size and success of his companies. In the past, he has said that he had the “largest upholstery company in the United States” and started a company “that became the largest minority-owned food company in the United States.” Both statements are false. He also said he donated some of the earnings from his food distribution company to charity, but there’s little proof that he did so.
But most damning have been the revelations about his personal life that undercut his insistence that he is a Christian family man.
The allegations of violence toward his ex-wife have continued to come up. And in June, The Daily Beast reported that while Walker talked about the importance of being a good father and role model to his son, he also had three other children he didn’t publicly discuss and with whom he was far less involved, despite his criticisms of absentee fathers in the Black community.
That image was further tarnished Monday, when The Daily Beast revealed that Walker once paid for a woman he impregnated to have an abortion. After the article came out, Walker’s son, Christian, went on social media and ripped his father as a liar, hypocrite and violent man.
“You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence,” he wrote.
“I don’t care about someone who has a bad past and takes accountability,” he added. “But how DARE YOU LIE and act as though you’re some ‘moral, Christian, upright man.’ You’ve lived a life of DESTROYING other peoples lives. How dare you.”