Bring the Noise: Stephen A. Smith Becomes Highest-Paid On Air Talent in ESPN History

Illustration for article titled Bring the Noise: Stephen A. Smith Becomes Highest-Paid On Air Talent in ESPN History
Photo: Cindy Ord (Getty Images)

Stephen A. Smith lives a charmed life.

Not only does he get to talk about sports for a living, but he does so at decibels only achieved by infuriated neighbors or rabid Drake fans. And as if you weren’t envious enough already, the popular sports personality just secured the bag on a new deal that will make him the highest-paid talent in the history of ESPN.

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According to the New York Post, Screamin’ A has reached an agreement with ESPN on a five-year extension that will reel in $8 million per year—that’s like $4.95 per yell—and will top the $6.5 million that “Get Up!” host Mike Greenburg takes home annually.

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Word on the street was that the 51-year-old was seeking a double-digit salary, but that’s still a nice chunk of change that he was able to negotiate. As a part of his new deal, ESPN will expand his presence on the network. He’s already begun hosting SportsCenter on Wednesdays as the lead-in to scheduled NBA games, and outside of his contributions to the popular daily morning show, First Take, the network has an interest in finding him a home on their direct-to-consumer subscription service, ESPN+.

He’ll also be leaving ESPN Radio next year as a part of his new deal.

Once the news hit the internet, some of his colleagues and sparring partners took to Twitter to congratulate the Winston-Salem State University alum.

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Smith took a victory lap to share his own thoughts on the deal as well:

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“For the Jay-Zs, LeBrons, Shaqs, and others I don’t consider them the American Dream. I consider me the American Dream,” he tweeted. “You got a one in a billion shot to be them, but you can be me. You can go to school, you can work hard, you can make it and be Stephen A.”

Word.

Respect due to Smith on the new deal. I only ask that he buy us all earplugs to celebrate.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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DISCUSSION

What he and his partner in hot takeism Skip Bayless have done to sports television is a tragedy. I’d rather see a thoughtful, truly articulate black man like Shannon Sharpe get his just due. Give me the measured intelligence of Bomani Jones any day over Screamin A. So ESPN couldn’t find air time for two intelligent black voices like Jemele Hill & Michael Smith but found all the cash and air time for the walking minstrel show? Yeah I said it.