Most of the time, when an ESPN personality speaks about President Trump, it’s not a feel-good story. However, every once in a while, a big name from the “four-letter network” breaks the mold and shares a personal insight that is not only not hostile, but even complimentary of the president.
Such a moment recently occurred with Stephen A. Smith.
Smith, the most highly-paid and arguably most important personality at ESPN, recently spoke about the important career advice that Trump gave him on an episode of the YES Network program CenterStage. In it, Smith details how Trump encouraged Smith to maximize his value to ESPN by raising his contract demands and thus making the network more committed to his success.
According to the Big Lead, here’s how Smith recalled the advice Trump gave him:
‘We’re in the green room (of the former ESPN2 showQuiteFrankly), we were talking. And he said, ‘Stephen A…you’re doing good, you’re doing good…but there’s more things for you to accomplish.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And he said, ‘Take my advice…when you go to a bank and you borrow $3 million and you can’t pay it back, you got a problem…but when you go to a bank and you borrow $300 million and you can’t pay it back, we’ve got a problem…the moral of the story is, the more someone invests in you, the more they must work to ensure your success.’ And when he said that to me, I held onto that for the rest of my career, because so many times, I was big about well you know what, this is what I do. And as long as I’m in the public eye, I’m a bit ubiquitous, I’m gonna be relevant. But guess what? If you come cheap, you’re also expendable. But when you cost more, they have to work more diligently to ensure your success.’
That advice clearly registered with Smith, who recently inked a deal worth nearly $10 million a year. Smith is not only one of the most well-known personalities at ESPN, but the departure of Smith’s longtime co-host Skip Bayless has made him even more valuable as the centerpiece of the popular morning show First Take.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn