Stephen A. Smith Will Become ESPN’s Highest Paid Sports Personality

Stephen A. Smith is on track to become the highest paid on-air talent in ESPN history.

Smith has a current contract worth $5 million per year. The “First Take” personality and syndicated talk show host is estimated to receive a raise “in the $8 million-to-$10 million range,” according to a report published by The New York Post.

Smith is set to out earn Mike Greenberg, who is currently the highest paid personality on The Walt Disney-owned network at $6.5 million, annually. (The Walt Disney Company is No. 26 on the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 list.)

What makes this even more interesting is Smith is Black. People may love him or hate him but Smith definitely makes for good TV when it comes to the all-sports network.

Stephen A. Smith gained notoriety through ESPN’s popular sports show ​”First Take.” His exaggerated antics, outlandish hot takes, and spot-on commentary were magnets for the show’s audience. Even when his former co-host, Skip Bayless, left the show; Smith’s savoir faire kept the ratings sky high. And it’s not due to his expertise in sports. Stephen A. Smith is an entertainer.

And, giving credit where it’s due, he isn’t a fly-by-night newbie who came out of nowhere. Smith started at ESPN in 2005, working as a weekday radio host while writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He worked hard to climb the ranks to become one of ESPN’s top personalities. He has almost 4 million followers on Twitter and 1.5 million on Instagram. That’s no easy task.

The network also recognizes that Smith goes above and beyond the call of duty when asked to contribute.

Smith’s current contract is set to expire in 2021. Although the network has been downsizing its staff since 2017, it views Smith as indispensable and plans to keep him on the roster and rightfully so.