Calacanis Wanted Deadspin, But Deadspin Wanted Denton

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Last night on the Upper East Side, we spent far too much time at Blondies watching tennis and feting our favorite sports blogger, Deadspin‘s Will Leitch, in honor of the site’s one-year anniversary. The Gawker Media property has become the preeminent sports blog on the Web — averaging about 1.7 million page views a day, according to Alexa — but it nearly wasn’t theirs.

As Gawker Media editor Lockhart Steele explained, Leitch first pitched the idea to Gawker Godfather Nick Denton, and after its lukewarm reception was courted by Jason Calacanis for his blog network, Weblogs Inc. Leitch then e-mailed Denton to alert him of Calacanis’ interest, who passed Leitch off to Steele, reccomending Gawker work with Leitch on something — but “probably not sports.”

“I was at an advantage because they didn’t really know sports,” said Leitch. “Someone was going to do a site like this — I’m just glad we got in first.”

[EDITOR’S DISCLOSURE: I have known Leitch since he co-founded the late online literary site called The Black Table — which I wrote for — and have been covering the 2006 U.S. Open for Deadspin.]