Stephen A. Smith Wants to Get Paid

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Stephen A. Smith continued to be the king of all media by sitting down with OutKick's Clay Travis. The topic of compensation came up as ESPN's most prominent voice is approaching the end of his current contract. It will come as no surprise to anyone that Smith had no hesitation in saying that he wants to be the network's highest-paid talent.

“Yes. I'm not stuttering," Smith said in an interview that will go live later today. "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 in 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 as Mike Greenberg, 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 for one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like, this is not I'm number one and this says I'm number one.”

He's not wrong. No one has more of an impact and no one is more ubiquitous than Smith, who continues to reinvent himself. Part of that is his new show, which honestly might be the most entertaining thing in sports as well as a signal of what type of direction his career could take outside of Bristol/NYC.

“I've got my own YouTube channel," Smith said. "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 for anybody for it. 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.”

Yup. This all makes sense. It would be shocking if Smith got a new deal and it wasn't the most lucrative for anyone on air at ESPN. It'd be shocking if things didn't work out as well as employee and employer are both getting what they want out of the relationship.