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Sports broadcaster Michele Tafoya joins Qualls gubernatorial campaign

Tafoya will act as co-chair of Republican candidate Kendall Qualls' campaign for governor of Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired on Jan. 11, 2022.

Former NBC Sports sideline reporter Michele Tafoya walked off the field at Super Bowl LVI Sunday night and into the world of politics Monday, announcing she will act as co-chair for a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate's campaign.

In a statement, Republican candidate for governor Kendall Qualls said in part about Tafoya's involvement with his campaign, "Together, we’re going to win."

"I’m confident with her reach we’ll be able to connect with people across the state to ensure that all Minnesotans feel as if their needs are being heard," the statement read.

Tafoya endorsed Qualls on WCCO Radio, and in a statement said she was "honored" to support him: "I’m honored that my next phase involves supporting Kendall in his run for Governor of Minnesota."

Qualls is one of several Republicans who have entered the race to replace Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, including Republican Senator Paul Galzelka and former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Early last month, Tafoya told reporters she was leaving NBC Sports after the Super Bowl to pursue other areas of interest, both "personally and professionally."

"I couldn’t ignore that little voice anymore after what we have all endured over the last few years," she said.

Tafoya has called Minnesota home since 1994, when she took a job with local sports talk radio station KFAN-AM, where she was a host and sideline reporter for the Minnesota Vikings. She also worked Minnesota Timberwolves games and was a play-by-play commentator for Big Ten women's basketball and volleyball. 

In 1995, Tafoya made her way to WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, where she worked as sports reporter and anchor. She continued to live in Minnesota with her husband and children even after she took on a prominent sidelines presence with NBC Sports and Sunday Night Football in 2011.

She's won four Emmy Awards for sports reporting and as of Sunday's Super Bowl, has covered 327 games - the most national primetime TV games, both regular and preseason - by an NFL sideline reporter.

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