ESPN has not hidden from Stephen A. Smith his dissatisfaction with his pay. When Pat McAfee joined the Worldwide Leader in Sports, he was the highest paid employee at the organization, earning $17 million a year, a substantial increase from the $12 million a year contract Smith signed in 2019.
Regaining his position as ESPN’s highest-paid player is a goal for Stephen A. Smith, whose reputed $12 million annual compensation was eclipsed by big additions like Pat McAfee.
When Smith was asked whether it meant to him to be the highest-paid personality at the firm by presenter Clay Travis on OutKick The Show recently, he didn’t hold back in sharing his opinions.
In addition, he expressed his indelible memory of the company’s 2009 dismissal and his promise to quit if his requests were not fulfilled.
BREAKING: Stephen A. Smith is not planning to stay at ESPN when his contract in 18 months is over, because they let him go in 2009.
— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) December 6, 2023
“Yes. I’m not stuttering,” “Hell, yes, that’s absolutely true. I’ve mastered my own business in the world of sports television.”
‘Clay Travis, I’ve been number one for 12 years. April 1st will mark 12 consecutive years I’ve been number one. Not only have I been number one every year, I’ve been number one every week and every month of every year for the last 12 years. You don’t get to say that about too many people.
‘I look at whether it’s Pat McAfee, it’s Mike Greenberg, it’s Scott Van Pelt, it’s Troy Aikman, it’s Joe Buck, it’s Kirk Herbstreit. The list goes on and on. I’m so honored to have the colleagues that I have, that I work with at ESPN every day.
‘And at the end of the day, it would be nice one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like: “I’m number one and this says I’m number one.”’
Smith also brought up Tony Romo’s contract with CBS, wherein he agreed to pay $17.5 million annually for ten years starting in 2020. At the time, it was the biggest sports analyst contract in TV history. He said
‘I’ve got my own YouTube channel. I’ve got my own show – it’s not even just a podcast, it’s a show with a fully loaded television studio. That’s what I built for myself, that could go linear or digital. The list goes on and on.
‘I’m doing all of these things. I’m not doing all of that to be in second place. I’m not doing all of that to look up at somebody else to see that they’re making more than me when I’m producing superior ratings and revenue. No, I’m not doing that. And I’m not apologizing to anybody for it.
‘I’ve been treated incredibly well by ESPN, I expect to continue to be treated well by ESPN. Again, I’ve got great relationships and what have you, but this is a business and Disney has a right to run its business the way it sees fit, ESPN does as well.
‘But if they do, so do I. I hope that we’re able to work it out. I’m confident that we will, because I’m incredibly happy there. We’ll see.’
Stephen A. Smith is in the business of making money, just like ESPN. In addition to his $8 million annual income, Smith also receives a $4 million annual production deal.