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New Documentary Chronicles 'Blackjack Whisperer' Radio Personality's Fall Into Gambling Debt, Fraud
Craig Carton's gambling issues led to the popular talk show host's dramatic downfall and fraud conviction.
Craig Carton went from being a zany radio personality on one of America’s most popular morning shows to a prison inmate.
The new HBO documentary "Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth" chronicles that dramatic decline as Carton, 51, got in over his head with gambling, all while entertaining unknowing listeners on the WFAN morning show. His decade-long career with the New York sports station ended in 2017 when he was arrested for defrauding others in an attempt to pay off his gambling debts.
The documentary film features first-person interviews with Carton and “reveals how the radio host’s secret insatiable gambling addiction, financed by an illicit ticket-broking business, brought his career to a sudden halt when he was arrested by FBI agents and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud on September 6, 2017,” according to an HBO press release.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said he and a co-conspirator stole millions from investors in a Ponzi scheme. Those investors were promised that their money would be used to buy and resell concert tickets.
“He talked of his ability to buy blocks of tickets to live events and sell them for a profit on the secondary market,” a 2019 press release from the Southern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office stated. “But the talk-show host was all talk.”
The money was instead used to cover Carton’s dire gambling debts. As he says in the film's trailer, he got hooked on gambling and became known as the "Blackjack whisperer."
Carton was sentenced to three and a half years in prison last year after he was convicted for securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit those offenses. He was also ordered to pay $4,835,186.56 in restitution.
He was released from prison in June.
“I had no idea how much he was gambling,” his former co-host Boomer Esiason says in the trailer for the upcoming film. “He had the world by the balls. He ruined what we all had.”
“Wild Card” debuts on HBO at Oct. 7 at 9 pm EST. It will be available for streaming on HBO Max.