Imagine a life in which you get to talk about sports for a living while getting paid millions of dollars. For some ESPN personalities, this is their reality. Most sports jobs in newspapers or local television stations pay enough to live comfortably, but national television jobs can pay even more than some of the athletes they talk about. So, who is the highest-paid ESPN personality and how much do they make?
What does the average ESPN personality make?
ESPN reporters and on-air personalities can make anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars per year to a few million. Sideline reporters such as Lisa Salters and Holly Rowe usually make less than $1 million per year, but that doesn’t mean they’re not well compensated.
According to Tiebreaker.com, Salters makes over $200,000 per year and Rowe makes $800,000. Sideline reporters don’t make as much as television jobs because they’re a seasonal position, and these reporters don’t appear on TV every day.
TV hosts seem to make about the same amount as sideline reporters. “First Take” host Molly Qerem reportedly earns $500,000 a year to be the moderator for the popular morning show. Wendi Nix, who hosts “NFL Live,” makes even more at $800,000 per year.
Sideline reporters and TV make an above-average living, but the real money is in television commentating.
Commentators make the most money at ESPN
This shouldn’t come as a shock, but the most popular faces on TV every day earn the most money at ESPN.
Mike Golic, who served as the co-host of “Mike and Mike” for 17 years, still earns $5 million per year for his spot on “Golic and Wingo.” Golic’s ex co-host, Mike Greenberg, makes even more, though. Greenberg makes $6.5 million per year as the host of “Get Up!,” and he was the highest-paid ESPN employee until last year.
The co-hosts of “Pardon the Interruption,” Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, each make a hefty $6 million per year. PTI has been one of the afternoon television staples on ESPN, so it would be unfair to pay one more than the other.
These popular names all have impressive salaries, but none of them hold the title of the highest-paid ESPN commentator.
Stephen A. Smith is the highest-paid ESPN personality
Surprised? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Stephen A. Smith is famous for his fiery takes on the popular morning show “First Take,” and those explosive tirades led to a hefty contract in 2019. In November of last year, Smith and ESPN agreed to a five-year contract worth $8 million per year.
Smith might not be the most knowledgeable ESPN personality, but he can spark debates better than anyone. He works extremely hard at his craft, and he has a way of stirring up conversations that makes him a special television figure. ESPN is lucky to have Smith, and they showed it by making him their highest-paid personality in 2019.
For comparison’s sake, Patrick Mahomes makes roughly $4 million per year. He’ll surely sign a massive extension soon, but it’s still crazy to think Smith makes double what the Super Bowl MVP makes per year.