Stephen A. Smith on the money mistake he made that got him fired from ESPN

Abu Mubarik April 26, 2024
Stephen A. Smith hosts First Take. Photo via YouTube/ESPN

Stephen A. Smith is an ESPN analyst. People widely regard him as the face of the channel because of his sharp and insightful analysis. He hosts “First Take,” but prior to that, he hosted “The Stephen A. Smith Show” on ESPN Radio from 2005 to 2008.

In 2011, he started hosting a weekday local show on ESPN Radio 98.7FM in New York, NY, and a local show on ESPN LA 710AM in Los Angeles, CA. Despite his success at ESPN, his journey at the prestigious media institution was not without challenges, according to AfroTech.

He remembered losing his job at ESPN in 2009 due to a contract that didn’t match his expectations. Speaking on the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, he shared that he felt he deserved more than what the channel was offering him.

“I thought that I deserved more than they offered,” Smith shared on “Earn Your Leisure.“ I was appalled at the offer they made me. I did not like it. I did not appreciate it. I felt disrespected. And I said, ‘No.’”

He noted that he believed he deserved more than what was being offered him because of the accolades and praise he was getting from viewers, listeners, and ordinary people who came his way. Indeed, he was a national sensation.

But now, when he thinks about what happened, he realizes he made a mistake and that he wasn’t in his prime just yet.

“All I had was radio, which was expendable, and SportsCenter appearances,” he said, according to AfroTech. “You didn’t have a definitive place where you knew you were going to catch me. So what did they do under the old regime? They signed me to a contract in 2008. They gave me $600,000 less than what I had turned down, and less than what their initial offer was. Then, on top of it all, they kept me out of the air. All of a sudden, y’all didn’t see me. You didn’t hear me.”

With no new contract in 2009 and being stripped of any leverage, SportsCenter no longer welcomed him. He had been without a job for nearly a year and was now living off his savings.

At the time, he was also a new father. His precarious condition made him reflect on the ins and outs of the business instead of paying attention to his popularity. When ESPN gave him a second chance, he was able to come in with the dollar value his ratings brought in to back up his renegotiations.

Today, he reportedly earns around $12 million, including an $8 million yearly salary and a $4 million per-year production contract. He inked a deal with ESPN in 2019, making him the highest-paid ESPN personality with a corresponding net worth of $20 million, according to figures.

Smith has revealed his plans for the rest of his career, even though his present contract is up in June 2025. “I want to position myself to remain the best. I aim to achieve maximum profitability. I aim to not only generate revenue, but also share it with others.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 26, 2024


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