If Abby Hornacek's last name sounds familiar, it is probably because you remember her father Jeff teaming up with Karl Malone and John Stockton to almost take down Michael Jordan's dynasty-era Bulls teams. Make no mistake about it though; Abby is making a name for herself in the media field.
A former contributor for ESPN and sideline reporter for FOX Sports, Abby was recently hired by FOX Nation, an on-demand subscription-based streaming service under the FOX umbrella. She's quite busy there in her role as travel and lifestyle host, hosting three different shows with very different duties for each.
This week, you can catch Abby presenting at the inaugural Patriot Awards, an event honoring first responders, military personnel and other everyday heroes. We spoke to her late last week for our "21 Questions" feature.
Get ready to learn more about Abby than you ever expected, including her thoughts on the NBA today, what musical instrument she's taken up playing and much more.
Here we go…
1. You've been at FOX Nation less than a year but you're already hosting three shows: PARK'D, American Arenas and Ride to Work. Can you tell us a little bit about each of them?
AH: Yes! In PARK’d, I travel across the country to explore our nation’s National Parks and showcase each one’s history while also participating in a few adrenaline activities at every place. I am a HUGE nature-lover, so this is a passion of mine. For American Arenas, I visit the iconic sports arenas across America. Imagine learning about the origins of the Super Bowl, Talladega, Field of Dreams, Wrigley Field, The New Orleans Superdome, etc. and that’s what this show is about. As a sports fan, I truly believe that knowing the history of these places heightens your experience! Ride to Work is a light-hearted show in which I drive other FOX talent to work...at all hours of the day. We joke around during the ride while I learn more about each person. Sometimes I even surprise them along the way with some stops. Me driving in NYC and DC adds a whole other element…
In addition to those three shows, I’m also hosting the red carpet at the Fox Nation Patriot Awards, which honors everyday heroes, first responders, veterans and others who have shown incredible acts of heroism.
2. Obviously there are a lot of good things that come with growing up as the daughter of a former NBA player/coach. What was the toughest part?
AH: Honestly, there weren’t many tough parts! He obviously traveled a lot during the season, but he was such a great father and would come home whenever he could, even though he was probably exhausted! My mom and dad are a great team. I guess the toughest part would be when people assume I got a certain job or opportunity because of my dad. The reality is, I worked extremely hard (I had five different jobs just in college) to earn my own opportunities. My parents are wonderful and helped me along the way by giving me their moral support, but every job I got, I purposefully wanted to get on my own and my parents were supportive of that.
3. What are you listening to in your headphones more often: Podcasts or music?
AH: Ah this is tough! I listen to a lot of country music, but I also like to stay sharp with podcasts. Sometimes I’m listening to the news of the day or I’ll indulge in a few sports podcasts.
4. Who is your favorite current NBA player?
AH: Giannis Antetokoumnpo! I think he has the potential to go down in history next to MJ, Kobe, Kareem, and some of the all-time greats. He has both the fight and versatility as a player that makes the NBA what it is. He is such a joy to watch.
5. You don't cover politics at FOX, but have you ever encountered people in your job who reacted favorably or unfavorably toward you for political reasons when they heard you worked for FOX?
AH: I think anytime you work at a news organization you get reactions from people who don’t watch the coverage 24/7. What I can say, is one of my favorite things about working at FOX is the people. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most genuine, hardworking talent, producers, and executives I’ve ever met. Everyone here does extensive research, is extremely educated on topics and is 100 percent willing to listen to someone else’s opinion. They are respectful of all viewpoints and give all voices a chance to give theirs.
6. You're a self-professed "adrenaline junkie" which we get to see in your series PARK'D. How did you become one?
AH: I used to be a huge scaredy cat! I grew up as an athlete, so I’ve been programmed to never back down from a challenge. One day, I was asked to go skydiving, I said yes, and there was no going back. I also was raised in an active family so we were always doing activities! Since then, I’ve been skydiving twice (I’m going again in Season 3 of PARK’d,) bungee jumping, gliding, rock climbing, you name it!
7. Do you still root for the Jazz? If not, do you have a favorite NBA team?
AH: I love the Jazz! I’ll always have a special place in my heart for that team. I was born in Utah when my dad played for them, so I have fond memories of running around with Lindsay Stockton with a churro in our hands watching our dads play. We would even help rub the scuff marks off the court and pick up the streamers after the games. For that reason, the cleaning crew loved us! Haha.
I’m a little biased towards 90s basketball, but the current team is still fun to watch. Donovan Mitchell runs a great offense and who doesn’t love to watch Rudy Gobert and his defensive magic? Based on his numbers, I’m sure Bojan Bogdanovic’s jump shots especially love Gobert’s screens!
8. We saw you recently took up playing the banjo. How is that going and what made you decide on that instrument?
AH: The banjo is coming along. My neighbors probably don’t like me much, but hey, a girl’s gotta practice somehow! I started to learn the guitar awhile back and have wanted a banjo since I was in high school, so my first “splurge” after I started working took me to Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, IL (where I was living at the time) and I fell in love with the instrument. It’s a little trickier than I thought, but YouTube has been a huge help!
9. What was the experience of covering the Red River Showdown like for you?
AH: The energy at the Cotton Bowl was unmatched. With a stadium split at the 50-yard-line, half OU fans and half Texas fans, the incessant chanting created for a prime college football experience. The State Fair of Texas is on the same property as the Cotton Bowl, so both fair goers and fans can enjoy the experience!
10. Who is one person--could be a FOX colleague or someone outside of that--that you would love to interview on Ride to Work?
AH: If I could go back in time before John Wooden passed, I would be honored to drive him to practice. I keep his book in my office and read a bit of it every day, so I would love to know more of his wisdom and hopefully learn something from him that he hadn’t shared before.
11. One must go: french fries, tater tots, waffle fries, curly fries.
AH: Curly fries...They’re always over-seasoned.
12. What is your favorite Halloween costume you've ever worn?
AH: I don’t want to brag, but I’m a pro at Halloween. My mom is extremely crafty and would make our costumes growing up. Have you seen Karate Kid? At the end, he goes to a dance and dresses as a shower. Yep, I was the nerd who copied that costume and honestly it was my favorite.
13. Which city would you most like to profile on American Arenas? Which foreign city would you most like to travel to and host a show on?
AH: I would love to do New Orleans. Not only is it such a historic city (I love Jazz music,) but the influence sports had on its morale during Hurricane Katrina is incomparable. The city rallied behind its sports teams and the Superdome provided shelter to people who lost their homes in the wake of the tragic hurricane. To me, it’s the perfect example of the binding power of sports.
14. You've spoken about your dislike of people being on their cell phones so much. What advice do you have or tips do you use to avoid doing this yourself? P.S. I may or may not be asking this question because I struggle with this myself!
AH: It’s nice to meet someone else who shares the same sentiment! I challenge myself to never pull out my phone on an elevator. It can feel awkward especially when there’s no music, but if you make eye contact with the other person, they will usually give you a little nod or start a conversation. That is way more productive to my day than pretending to text someone back or send an email.
15. What reality TV show would you choose to be on and why?
AH: I’ve always wanted to do the Amazing Race. I am extremely close to my family, so I would love for them to be my teammates. I think about all of the places we would see, activities we would be able to do, and the food we would eat. I’m really drawn to human nature and I’d find it interesting to observe the different personalities of each person come out with the various challenges.
16. What does USC football need to do to get back on track and be elite again?
AH: Do Ronnie Lott, Matt Leinart or Reggie Bush have any more years of eligibility?
I think we really need to focus on our 2020 recruiting class and figure out a way to shake off some of the negativity surrounding the school because of the recent scandals. USC is an incredible place to be and it’s important for people to see that!
17. Netflix or Hulu?
AH: That’s really tough. Both have an impressive catalog of original programming, but I lean more towards Netflix because of its wide variety of options. However, I will say Catch-22 is excellent on Hulu!
18. Who has been a major influence for you in this field? What reporters/personalities have you used for inspiration?
AH: Some of my role models are Sam Ponder and Robin Roberts. Both have exceeded in their careers while remaining humble and maintaining their values. I grew up watching both and as I got older, I followed Sam Ponder closely because of her ability to be natural and showcase a wealth of knowledge. She’s the type of person who makes you feel like you’re friends even when you haven’t met. That’s a skill I really want to hone in on, so she has been the perfect role model.
19. What is your go-to coffee order?
AH: Coffee with half and half. I’m a simple girl!
20. What TV or movie character did you have the biggest crush on growing up?
AH: Troy Bolton. A man that can sing and play basketball? Game over. Of course, Tim Riggins and Austin Ames are on that list as well.
21. What is one fact about you that most people wouldn't know but it would blow their minds to find out?
AH: Probably the fact that I have never tried a PB&J sandwich and I love goats. I forgot to mention that I’m an alien.
You can read more of our interviews with sports media stars here.