ESPN revolutionized sports when the network first went on the air in 1979. A channel dedicated just to sports? For most of us, it’s hard to imagine television and sports any other way, but it used to not be that way.
With the advent of 24/7 sports coverage came the rise of the sports personality. Their roles are different than regular news broadcaster because the topics aren’t as serious. Love them or hate them, they are the people we go to for sports news, analysis, and commentary.
We’ve made a list of some of the most famous sports personalities and how much money they make. Some of them seem overpaid, while some of them seem underpaid.
Check out this list and see what you think!
1. Linda Cohn
Linda Cohn is now one of ESPN’s longest-serving personalities, having been with the network since 1992. She is known for her distinct accent and sense of humor and came on board at SportsCenter in an era that valued a funny anchor.
Over the years, Linda Cohn has racked up a size-able amount of cash. No one knows exactly how much money she’s made in her 25-plus years in Bristol, but she has an estimated net worth of between $8 and $10 million and a rumored $3 million a year salary. No one’s denying she’s worth it though.
2. Scott Van Pelt
Scott Van Pelt is one of ESPN’s most recognizable anchors, and not just for his trademark bald head and glasses. He’s been an important employee at the network since 2001. Van Pelt has hosted SportsCenter, major sporting events and a radio show during his time at ESPN, but was called upon to do the impossible in 2015, when he was asked to solo-anchor the midnight edition of SportsCenter.
It’s no wonder Van Pelt has a contract worth a reported $4 million a year. Not only that, but the guy has a net worth of $16 million!
3. Clay Travis
Clay Travis is one of the most polarizing names on this list. You either love him or hate him, and that’s the way he likes it. Travis got his start writing a blog about his “pudding strike” against DirectTV, and now he hosts a daily radio show on Fox Sports Radio as well as a sports gambling show on Fox Sports.
No one knows how much Travis makes, but his move to Fox Sports was a big enough deal to lead some to speculate it was in the multi-million dollar a year range. Travis’ net worth is estimated to be around $3 million.
4. Chris Fowler
Chris Fowler got his big break as the original anchor for College GameDay back in 1990. He continued this role until 2014 when he took over as the lead play-by-play announcer on ABC’s Saturday Night College Football. As part of his new contract he now also gets to anchor ESPN’s coverage for other events such as tennis and soccer.
Let’s talk about that new contract. According to sources, the deal now keeps him with ESPN through 2023 and helps to up his net worth to a whopping $4 million.
5. Stephen A. Smith
This is a list of people you love or hate, and no other person on this list has more people hating him than Stephen A. Smith. Yes, part of his fame is because he’s louder than everyone else, but also because he is known to make the hottest of takes and go on emotional rants about his teams.
Stephen A. has yelled all the way to the bank, earning a reported $3.1 million a year. And get this: he’s on the hunt for even more money after changing agents recently.
6. Max Kellerman
Max Kellerman was tasked with the impossible: replace Skip Bayless on the show “First Take” and be the verbal sparring partner for Stephen A. Smith. That’s not a job for just anyone, and Kellerman has been rewarded handsomely for it.
Combine that work with his role as ESPN’s chief boxing pundit and you rack up a net worth of around $8 million. Not a bad deal for a guy who sits around and talks about sports all day.
7. Mike Greenberg
Was Greenberg the first “Mike” or the second in the show “Mike and Mike?” It hardly matters because now the show is dead and this Mike has a fat new deal. His deal to be one of the lead anchors for ESPN’s new morning show Get Up reportedly pays him $6.5 million a year.
So he and his former partner hated each other; so what? It’s worked out for Greenberg handsomely and now he’s one of ESPN’s most expensive personalities.
8. Mike Golic
The other “Mike” on our list, Mike Golic has found a role again with the company after his break up with Mike Greenberg. Now the Mike half of the ESPN Radio show “Wingo and Golic”, Golic is worth a reported $15 million.
Now we don’t know much money this new gig pays him, but remember he is a former professional athlete, not all of his net worth comes from his salary at ESPN.
9. John Gruden
Yes, we know Jon Gruden is out of the booth and back on the sidelines, but we wanted to remind you all of how much money he was making at ESPN. Before he left the worldwide leader, Gruden was the highest-paid on-air personality at the network making a reported, $6.5 million a year.
That seems like enough for a guy to live off of. However, compare that to the $10 million a year the Oakland Raiders are paying him to be their head coach and you get why he’d put the headset back on.
10. Kirk Herbstreit
Herbie has it all figured out. He works a few days a week for a few months of the year. If you’re going to work in sports, it might as well be in the sport with the shortest season.
Get paid $2 million a year to talk about college football for 4 months? It sounds like a pretty great gig. Combine this salary with the amount of time Kirk Herbstreit has spent with ESPN and you’ve got a net worth of $4 million for the former Buckeye quarterback.
11. Dan Patrick
Dan Patrick is another former ESPN man on our list who has left the network and gone on to be the flagship personality for another network. Patrick, whose full name is Daniel Patrick Pugh, is the host of The Dan Patrick Show a daily radio show simulcast on NBC Sports Network.
This gig earns him around $5 million a year and when you combine that with his other endorsement deals and projects gives him a net worth of around $25 million. That’s one of the highest net-worth on this list!
12. Suzy Kolber
Suzy Kolber isn’t the most famous name at ESPN, but she is one of their wealthiest. Kolber has an annual salary of around $3 million and a net worth of a colossal $18 million. Suzy was one of the original anchors of ESPN when it launched in 1993, worked at Fox Sports for a little while and then came back to ESPN in 1999.
Today, she is synonymous with football on ESPN, anchoring their Monday night countdown program and working on the sidelines during games.
13. Lee Corso
No one quite knows what the old ball coach makes per year, but Lee Corso has been working for ESPN since 1987 so it’s fair to assume he’s making a good bit of money. It’s estimated that Lee Corso’s net worth is $12 million. Not bad for a guy who has become famous for putting on mascot heads.
Every year people expect Corso to retire from television, and every year he still keeps showing up on College GameDay. He’s an institution to ESPN and the program. And hey, he’s much better than Mark May.
14. Al Michaels
Al Michaels could be the most recognizable sports broadcaster in history. He’s been working in the industry since 1976 and has made some of the most memorable calls in sports history. Who could forget his play-by-play during the Miracle on Ice hockey game in the 1980 Olympics, or the earthquake interrupting Game 3 of the 1989 World Series?
Now with NBC hosting Sunday Night Football, Michaels earns approximately $5 million a year and has a net worth of around $20 million.
15. Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann has an on-again, off-again relationship with ESPN. At times, he’s one of their greatest personalities. At other times he’s warring with the bosses and getting himself fired. Whatever you think of him, and people think many things about Keith Olbermann, there’s no denying his talent for television.
All that talent has paid him handsomely as well. During his last stint with ESPN, Olbermann was making around $2 million a year. Combine that salary with his other ventures and he’s worth an estimated $35 million. Not bad for a guy that is always getting fired.
16. Jim Nantz
Jim Nantz is one of our country’s finest broadcasters, and he gets paid like it too. For his work on the NFL and various golf events such as The Masters, Nantz makes $7 million a year. All that work has earned Nantz an estimated net worth of $15 million.
Nantz lives on the golf course at Pebble Beach in California and has a replica of the 7th hole at Pebble in his backyard. If you get a hole in one at Nantz’s house, he has a plaque made for you in honor of the event. Pretty cool.
17. Jamele Hill
No, Jamele Hill doesn’t work for ESPN anymore, but she does still work in the industry. While she is a polarizing figure for so many viewers, she was essential to ESPN’s programming for a few years, including briefly taking on the 6 o’clock SportsCenter with Michael Smith.
That show didn’t work out for very long, and Hill wasn’t at the network for much longer after that, but it cost her millions. Before leaving she had signed a 4-year contract worth $10 million. Surely she’s taken a pay decrease to join The Atlantic. But, money doesn’t buy happiness.
18. Joe Buck
Joe Buck bothers people, but there’s no denying he’s one of the greatest voices of American sports we’ve ever had. He’s been the play-by-play announcer for nearly every World Series since 1996. He also serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for Fox’s NFL coverage.
Like him or not, he’s calling the biggest games. For that privilege, he makes $6 million per year and has a net worth of about $15 million. Not bad, not bad at all.
19. Tony Romo
Tony Romo was new to the NFL booth in 2018, but he quickly showed he’s one of the best in the business. His ability to read the game and communicate that knowledge to viewers is nearly unparalleled in the NFL. He gained acclaim in his first season when he accurately predicted what was going happen over and over in the AFC Championship game.
All that ability and talent has earned Tony Romo $4 million a year, and the quarterback turned broadcaster has a net worth of $70 million.
20. Skip Bayless
When Skip Bayless made the jump from ESPN to Fox Sports in 2016 he got a big payday. Reportedly, he received a $25 million contract for 4 years. The best part of the deal is he received a $4 million signing bonus just for leaving ESPN!
Instead of sitting across the table from Stephen A. Smith, Bayless now sits across from Shannon Sharpe. But the shtick is still the same. Skip says ridiculous things and Shannon says ridiculous things just in a louder voice. Same show, different network.
21. Gus Johnson
Gus Johnson made himself a household name for his spectacular calls during NCAA tournaments. No one makes you feel the excitement of a buzzer-beater more than Johnson. The quality he brings to each call has led him to more opportunities outside of basketball and he now covers college football and sometimes soccer.
Despite his prowess, it’s estimated he only makes $100,000 a year and has an estimated worth of $.5 million. Is that surprising to anyone else?
22. Colin Cowherd
Colin Cowherd made his name at ESPN Radio in the early 2000’s. Later he made the jump to television with the show SportsNation. It was on these airwaves he made his reputation as the king of hot takes.
In 2015 he took that reputation to Fox Sports where he hosts his radio show and a television show. Fox Sports is currently paying him close to $6 million a year for his services. He has a net worth of $14 million.
23. Michael Wilbon
Michael Wilbon is a great example of how a traditional journalist can hit it big. When he and fellow Washington Post writer Tony Kornheiser began hosting the show Pardon The Interruption in 2001, they changed how news-based television is presented.
Wilbon has profited from this greatly. He’s parlayed his success on PTI into being one of ESPN’s lead NBA commentators. In 2019, Wilbon received a raise, taking his annual salary to $6 million a year. Not bad for a newspaper writer.
24. Tony Kornheiser
“Mr. Tony,” as he is known by his faithful radio show/podcast listeners, is half the dynamic duo of Kornheiser and Wilbon that made Pardon The Interruption the best sports show on television.
Together the pair have won multiple Sports Emmy’s and are two of ESPN’s most highly paid personalities. On his side of the desk, Tony Kornheiser is bringing home an annual $6 million and has a net worth of roughly $16 million. Couldn’t keep Chatter afloat though.
25. Ernie Johnson
Just wait until we tell you how much money Ernie Johnson makes. You are going to be shocked by how little it is. Ernie Johnson makes just $300 thousand a year. While that may seem like a ton of money to you and me, compare his salary to the others on this list.
EJ, as he’s affectionately known presides of TNT’s NBA show Inside the NBA, which has won nine Emmy awards. Johnson himself has won 3 Emmy awards, and yet he makes just $300 thousand a year. The bow-tied Johnson is criminally underpaid.
26. Cris Collinsworth
Doesn’t Cris Collinsworth just seem so happy to be there every Sunday night? He gets a lot of flack from viewers but he always seems so happy just to be included that it makes you like him.
And hey, what’s he got to be upset about. He gets to talk about football and makes a reported, $4 million a year to do it. You’d be smiling too if your bank account looked like his. The former NFL wide receiver is worth around $14 million.
27. Bob Costas
Here’s another man that seems underpaid. For as much work as Bob Costas does for NBC, you’d think he’d make more than $7 million. Among other things, Costas is the host of their Sunday night coverage and the host of their Olympic coverage. These are the biggest events on NBC’s sports calendar, and who are we watching? Bob Costas.
His favorite sport though? Baseball. Bob Costas would give it all up just to call a baseball game. America’s pastime for America’s announcer.
28. Erin Andrews
Erin Andrews is one of America’s most famous sideline reporters. She’s been roaming the sidelines as the main reporter for various networks now for almost ten years. Erin Andrews has an annual salary of $2 million and a net worth of more than $20 million, thanks to many endorsement deals she has earned.
Andrews is married to former NHL player and Stanley Cup winner, Jarret Stoll, so the Andrews/Stoll family is doing just fine financially.
29. Jim Rome
Rome is king. Jim Rome makes so much money people can’t agree on how much money he makes. Some say it’s $15 million a year, others say it’s $30 million a year. All we know is that Rome stands alone at the top of the charts. That is an outrageous sum of money, but hey he’s earned it.
Remember this is the guy who looked into the face of an NFL player and repeatedly called him a woman’s name. Rome isn’t scared of anything, and he’s been rewarded for that.
30. Michelle Beadle
Michelle Beadle is one of ESPN’s most valuable talents. She’s worth so much to the network that after she left, they traded NBC Ryder Cup coverage and Olympic highlights just to get her back.
Today, Beadle makes $5 million a year and hosts NBA Countdown, among other appearances she makes for the network. For a brief time, she hosted the ESPN2 morning show, Get Up.