The former weatherman wrote about his secret gambling addiction in his new book, “You Bet Your Life.”
Erstwhile weatherman and Good Morning America host Spencer Christian pulled back the curtain on his struggles with gambling addiction—and his brush with the FBI, a close call that still wasn’t enough to break the habit.
The long-time TV personality struggled mightily with his costly gambling habit, moving around so much money he attracted the attention of federal agents at one point.
“Before every gambling trip I’d go to three or four banks where I had accounts and take cash out and then I’d go off and when I’d come back, I’d have all this cash to redeposit, and that fit the pattern of someone covering up drug money or whatever,” the 70-year-old said in a GMA interview last week.
That sparked interest from the FBI, who thought it fit the pattern of illicit activity. But after investigating, the feds realized he wasn’t doing anything illegal.
“‘We found no criminal activity, you didn’t break any laws,’” Christian remembered an FBI agent telling him. “He said, ‘You obviously have a real gambling problem, and for your own good you need to seek some help.’ That was a scary moment and it was a huge wake-up call.”
But that wasn’t the thing that actually got him to turn things around. Instead, it was his family.
Even though he was able to keep his addiction from interfering with his on-air life, it wreaked havoc at home. It was his daughter who eventually took him to task for it, he recounted.
“She said, ‘Dad, you know I admire you and I love you, and I think the world of you, but you’ve got this problem and I’m going to bring grandchildren into your life,'” Christian remembered. “‘Do you want your grandchildren to know their grandfather as a gambler? Is this the legacy you want to leave, is this the way you want to be defined?’ And it just hit me like a ton of bricks.'”
That was the moment of clarity for him, the spark that prompted him to turn things around. Now, he’s in recovery, working for San Francisco’s ABC affiliate, and touting his new book, You Bet Your Life.
Before parting ways with GMA, Christian was the show’s weatherman, occasional reporter and guest anchor from 1986 to 1998.