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March 2022

This 13-month project explores the U.S. Women's National Team's fight for equal pay through the lens of Jessica McDonald, one of the few Black mothers in professional soccer. The project includes a 10-part audio podcast in partnership with iHeartRadio, a five-part written series, a four-part video documentary and an animated graphic novel.

Payback: Fight Like a Mother: Image

Animated Graphic Novel

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Jessica McDonald and son are world champions of soccer and women’s rights

Payback: Fight Like a Mother: Work

Podcast Series

Episodes published weekly

In 2019, U.S. women’s national soccer team striker Jessica McDonald capped a World Cup journey few could have imagined. A teen runaway who became a single mom, McDonald tells The Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer for the first time how she rose from a broken home in Phoenix to the pinnacle of sports in Lyon, France — and how today, she’s using her voice to battle systemic inequalities in soccer, including as part of the U.S. women’s national team’s recent settlement in their landmark fight for equal pay.

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Written Series


Part 1

A 'scared little girl'

Part 2

Troubled childhood

Part 3

No one can steal her joy

Part 4

Her 'miracle' child


Part 5

Championing moms in sport for fair pay

Payback: Fight Like a Mother: Work


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Introducing: Payback, the Jessica McDonald Story

Payback Pt. 1: Jessica McDonald’s troubled childhood home pushed her to go where her mother wouldn’t

Payback Part 2: UNC's Anson Dorrance on Jessica McDonald: 'An amazing player and human being'

Payback Part 3: 'That sacrifice was so worth it'

Payback: Fight Like a Mother: Video Player
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