A few years ago when ESPN was handing out pink slips like struggle rappers do their mixtapes people were eagerly waiting word that the much revered but also reviled Stephen A. Smith was one of the many ESPN personalities making their way to the unemployment line. It didn’t happen. Now a few years later ESPN is about to double down on their most famous/polarizing on-air sports analyst.
According to the New York Post ESPN is negotiating a new deal with the First Take co-host and word is that salary will be somewhere in the ballpark of $10 million per year.
The Post spoke with multiple executives and agents to figure out the number that Smith could garner, and the consensus was in the $8 million-to-$10 million range. By comparison, Mike Greenberg is paid $6.5 million to host “Get Up!,” which is the network’s highest publicly known salary. PTI’s Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser are believed to be in Greenberg’s neighborhood.
“SportsCenter”’s Scott Van Pelt, with his rising late-night ratings, is also considered in the nearly indispensable category in Bristol.
Since Smith still has two years remaining on his current contract — which is paying him, according to sources, in the $5 million per range — the two sides have not yet begun serious talks. But ESPN considers Smith among its most valuable on-air performers, and many think he is on top of the mountain.
No disrespect but are the ratings still that good? Just askin.’ Still, much props on the well deserved pay raise to the Queens native and we hope he’s prepared for the kind of hate that will follow when word spreads that he’s ESPN’s highest paid on-air personality.