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SouthBound: Wright Thompson Takes A Long Look At Bourbon, Family, And Building The Life You Dream Of

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I met Wright Thompson 10 years ago when we were working on the same story for different magazines. The main thing I remember about that trip is a long, hazy night in a hotel bar in Alabama where we talked like we had known each other forever.

Wright was already one of America’s best sportswriters then, and he has only gotten better – his profiles for ESPN bring new insights into people who have been in the spotlight for decades, like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

Lately, Wright has ventured into some new things. He’s the executive producer of a TV show called TrueSouth, which explores Southern food and culture side-by-side. And he has a new book, already a New York Times best-seller, called “Pappyland,” about the family who created America’s most coveted bourbon – Pappy Van Winkle.

“Pappyland” turns out to be the story of Wright and his family, too. We talked a lot in this episode about running – running away from home, and running back to it, and finally running toward the life you really want. We’ve both been thinking about that a lot lately.

Show notes:

Other music in this episode:

Lobo Loco, "High Valley Hometown"
Podington Bear, "Delta"

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary that airs every Monday. He's the author of "The Elephant in the Room," a memoir about life as an overweight man in a growing America. He spent 23 years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. He has also written for publications including Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Garden & Gun. He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and was a 2008-09 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte.