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Earnhardt Jr. featured on ESPN The Magazine 10th anniversary cover

CONCORD, N.C. (March 19, 2008) – Five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is among a select group of professional sports stars featured on unique covers for ESPN The Magazine’s 10th anniversary issue, released this week.

The double-sided special edition features 10 covers, five on each side and in random order. The front half highlights athletes who have dominated their respective sport in the last 10 years—baseball’s Ichiro Suzuki, NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson, pro basketball player Tim Duncan, tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams, and professional snowboarder Shaun White. The flip side is devoted to athletes believed to shine over the next 10 years—Earnhardt Jr., pro basketball player LeBron James, hockey star Sidney Crosby, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and NFL quarterback Vince Young.

Earnhardt Jr.’s cover was shot by photographer Matt Jones, who shows the driver not in typical NASCAR attire but in a single-breasted Armani suit and tie. This marks the third time Earnhardt Jr. has appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. He and Matt Kenseth shared the cover for the 1999 NASCAR Preview, and he alone was the subject of a cover story in the Feb. 18, 2002 edition.

“It was a real honor to be included in this 10th anniversary project for ESPN The Magazine,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s humbling to be among athletes of this caliber. I hope ESPN is correct in that we can generate a few headlines in the next 10 years. I feel like we can.”

Prominent in each of the 10 cover shots is a diamond-studded ESPN The Magazine hat designed by jeweler Lorraine Schwartz. The hat includes 760 round white diamonds, 108 round black diamonds, and 40 ruby baguettes. Each athlete signed the hat, which will be auctioned off for charity.

In addition to the 10 covers, each athlete was photographed in settings of special meaning or personal significance for the inside pages. In homage to the history of NASCAR and his racing roots, Earnhardt Jr. took ESPN The Magazine to his vintage gas station in Mooresville, N.C., where photographer Sarah Friedman shot Earnhardt Jr. and his 1972 Camaro.

“I have a great appreciation for the history of NASCAR where I grew up in Kannapolis,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “This old-school gas station reminds me of that town, where the old cotton mill was the big industry. It’s all torn down now, and I’m real nostalgic for it.”

ESPN The Magazine’s 10th anniversary edition is on newsstands now. Fans can also log on to www.espnthemag.com for behind-the-scenes footage of each athlete at their respective photo shoots, as well as prominent feature articles that have appeared in the magazine during its first 10 years of publication.

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