ESPYS Red Carpet Host Jesse Palmer Teases Show, Talks Caitlyn Jenner: ‘It Was a Phenomenal Choice’

“You see the synergy of the entertainment and sports world come together to celebrate these athletes,” former NFL player tells TheWrap before Wednesday’s awards

Last Updated: July 17, 2015 @ 6:32 PM

ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer made the big leap over to ABC’s “Good Morning America” as a special contributor earlier this year, and on Wednesday he will be stepping out as red carpet host for the 2015 ESPYS.

Before joining fellow ESPN host Cari Champion at the mic to talk with the world’s biggest athletes and Hollywood stars, the former New York Giants quarterback sat down with TheWrap to discuss his impressive career evolution, the Oscars of the sports world and special honoree, Caitlyn Jenner.

“It’s fun when you see the synergy of the entertainment and sports world come together to celebrate these athletes. There are some great stories and some great awards. I’m really excited,” Palmer said, explaining that although he’s not quite an ESPYS rookie, it’s the first time he has played such a pivotal position in the show.

“I went as an employee of ESPN and I think I got announced with legitimate A-list celebrities and real sports stars in front of me to crazy applause … it was like ‘college football’s Jesse Palmer,’ followed by polite clapping,” the former Florida Gators said with a modest grin. “I just walked in really quick. So this is going to be totally new. There are really big stars expected in attendance, from the sports world to entertainment. We have a lot of really cool interviews lined up.

Britney Spears, Vince Vaughn and Kiefer Sutherland are among the Hollywood stars who have been named as presenters by ESPN for the show on Wednesday, July 15, at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. They’ll be joined by premier athletes LeBron James, JJ Watt, Danica Patrick, Andre Iguodala, Julie Foudy, Chris Long and Richard Sherman, with “Community” star Joel McHale hosting this year’s awards.

Caitlyn Jenner being honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is no doubt the most highly-anticipated moment of the night and has sparked its fair share of controversy. However, Palmer believes the transgender former Olympian was the perfect pick for ESPN.

“It was a phenomenal choice,” he told TheWrap. “It is such an inspiring story demonstrating tons of courage to take that stance. I think it was a very natural fit. Over the years, that award has always gone to someone very, very deserving and it has become a historic thing,” he said of the award that went to Michael Sam in 2014.

As for the backlash against Jenner’s role in the show, especially from those who thought the Arthur Ashe should have gone to someone more sports-oriented, Palmer said: “She is technically one of the greatest American athletes in history.”

Watch TheWrap’s interview.

See exclusive Wrap portraits of Jesse:

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