Craig Carton said he nearly committed suicide in 2017 a month before he was arrested on four counts of fraud by the FBI.
In next month’s HBO documentary, “Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth,” Carton said that, while on vacation with his wife in Whistler, British Columbia, he was riding on a ski lift chair by himself.
“I now have a desire to jump off the lift chair and down to the mountain,” Carton said. “I lifted the bar up and I’m now inching closer to the edge of the seat. I got very upset and started crying.
“I had this out-loud conversation with myself, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You are better than this. You are not jumping.’
“As I’m telling myself not to do it, I’m inching closer and closer to the edge of the seat because I’m going, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m jumping off this chair lift, it is just a matter of when.”
Carton called his former New Jersey producer, Charod Williams.
“He was truly in a desperate situation,” Williams said.
Williams talked to him, telling him he loved him and slowly calmed Carton down.
“And the crazy part about it, was just as he was getting off the ski lift, he said, ‘Go F yourself, I’ll talk to you about this later.’”
Then he hung up.
The documentary, produced by Martin Dunn and Marie McGovern, presents the complicated life of Carton, both internally and externally. Carton was released from prison this summer after serving a bit more than a year of his 3 ¹/₂-year sentence.
He had been convicted for misappropriation of funds to cover debts from gambling. In the documentary, he said he borrowed $30 million to bet mostly on blackjack.
The film, partly narrated by Carton, also goes into the sexual abuse he says he experienced in 1980 as an 11-year-old, his relationship with WFAN partner Boomer Esiason and his future.
Here are some of the main parts:
Childhood Trauma: It is a small section of the documentary, but probably the most poignant. Carton goes into more detail about when he said he was sexually molested as an 11-year-old at a summer camp in 1980. He detailed an omitted chapter from his book, “Loudmouth: Tales (and Fantasies) of Sports, Sex, and Salvation from Behind the Microphone,” that he said his publisher, Simon & Schuster, thought didn’t fit in the otherwise wise-cracking stories.
“I woke up and it was happening and it was surreal,” Carton said during the documentary. “There he was in my bed, on top of me, doing things I knew were so hurtful to me to my core, things that would forever change me in the course of my life, things that should never be done to any human being.”
Carton said his assailant was 6-foot-4 and weighed at least 230 pounds and instructed him to keep quiet. Carton said he was repeatedly molested, but never spoke about it until recently.
The Comeback: The documentary ends with these words that potentially could be updated by the actual air date:
“Craig has negotiated a radio comeback. He vows to be as outrageous as ever on air.”
The Post has previously reported that WFAN is figuring out if it will make an offer to Carton to do an afternoon-drive show. Though WFAN is not in a rush to make a deal, the expectation is still that it will make the time slot available to Carton if he wants it. If not, Carton already has a firm offer to work mornings at Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fanatic, sources have told The Post.
The Gambling Problem: In the documentary, Carton said he lived two lives. One on the air and with his family and one as a gambler who was addicted to blackjack.
He said his initial success at the tables led to investors giving him money to try to win more.
“There were times when I met a buddy on a street corner in New York City and he would hand me a knapsack and inside that knapsack was a million dollars,” Carton said.
Carton claimed he once won $325,000 in nine minutes.
“Blackjack became a drug for me,” Carton said.
One time, according to Carton, he received $500,000 from an investor with the understanding that he would return 10 percent and keep everything over that number. He turned it into $1.5 million. He kept going.
“I walked out with nothing,” Carton said.
His Relationship with Boomer: The documentary goes into how Carton’s morning show partner, Esiason, initially didn’t want to team with him. The two grew close over their 10-year on-air marriage. In the wake of Carton’s arrest, there was a coldness. Esiason said he was a foxhole guy, but not if you bring a “grenade” into the foxhole.
“He ruined what we all had,” Esiason said.
The two have made up and now are on good footing.
No reunion, however, will be happening. Esiason and his new partner, Gregg Giannotti, have had success. If Carton returns to WFAN, it will be during afternoons, according to sources.
Carton said he was making $2 million a year at the height of his morning-show success.
In the documentary, he goes a little into life in prison and what he values being out.
“I took for granted my freedom,” Carton said.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
This Post first appeared on “New York Post”