Stephen A. Smith wants to be ESPN’s highest-paid personality


Stephen A. Smith, the popular ESPN host known for his passionate and opinionated commentary, may be facing an uncertain future at the network. In a recent interview with OutKick’s Clay Travis, Smith hinted that his time at ESPN could be up in 18 months if the money isn’t right.

During the interview, Smith emphasized the value he brings to ESPN in terms of ratings and revenue. He mentioned other high-profile ESPN personalities like Pat McAfee, Mike Greenberg, Scott Van Pelt, Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, and Kirk Herbstreit, and expressed his desire to be recognized as ESPN’s highest-paid personality. Smith believes that his contributions warrant such compensation, and if ESPN doesn’t meet his demands, he could explore other opportunities.

Smith also pointed out that he is not just a talent but a business. He has his own production company, a YouTube channel, and a fully loaded television studio. He has built a significant presence both online and offline, and he sees himself as a force to be reckoned with in the media landscape. Smith is not willing to settle for second place or accept a lower salary when he believes he is delivering superior results.

It’s worth noting that CBS analyst Tony Romo recently signed a historic 10-year deal with CBS worth an average of $17 million per year, making it the largest sports analyst contract in TV history at the time. This serves as a benchmark for Smith and his potential negotiations with ESPN.

While Smith expressed his gratitude for his colleagues at ESPN and his satisfaction with his current situation, he left the door open for other possibilities. He acknowledged that Disney, ESPN’s parent company, has the right to run its business as it sees fit. However, he hopes that they can come to an agreement that satisfies both parties.

Currently, Smith’s contract with ESPN pays him $12 million per year, with $8 million in personal salary and a $4 million-per-year production contract. This deal set the market for ESPN personalities when it was signed in 2019. However, it has recently been surpassed by Pat McAfee’s five-year, $85 million contract, which was signed in May of this year.

The future of Stephen A. Smith at ESPN remains uncertain. While he has expressed his desire to continue working with the network, his insistence on being adequately compensated for his contributions could lead to a potential departure. Only time will tell if ESPN is willing to meet his demands and keep one of their most recognizable and influential personalities on board.

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