Jemele Hill Says ESPN Paid Her Significantly Less Than ‘His & Hers’ Co-Host: “I was making $200,000 less than him even though we were doing the same job”
Jemele Hill is getting candid about her start in the world of sports journalism and the many lessons she learned along the way!
During a recent interview with REVOLT, Jemele Hill, 46, opened up about her successful career in journalism. She reflected on her humble beginnings from graduating college and starting out as an intern, to eventually landing a job at ESPN. In the interview, she highlights the reality check she received when signing on with ESPN. Prior to landing her big gig at the cable sports giant, Jemele Hill never thought she could make big bucks from journalism.
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“Journalism is very much a ‘working class’ profession, especially on a local level…I thought I would be winning the game if I made $50,000. ‘If I made 50 grand, I’m out here ballin!'”
She says her entire perspective shifted when she landed a job at ESPN. Jemele said,
“It wasn’t until I got to ESPN that I really got serious about the business side of journalism because I got to see what people made. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s possible?!’ ESPN forced me to really grow up because it’s a different game being played at that level than it is at the previous places I had been. This is the first time I had an agent and the first time I really had to learn how to manage my money.”
Jemele goes on to reveal that when she first started out at ESPN on her former show, “His & Hers,” her co-star Michael Smith was making a lot more money than her. She states,
“I was making $200,000 less than him even though we were doing the same job.”
Jemele Hill says she quickly learned the importance of negotiating. She explained,
“It’s not so much about what you’re worth, it’s about what you will negotiate. I started at ESPN at such a low salary to begin with. One of those, ‘We’ll see how it works kind of contracts. A 2-and-2 contract: two-year deal with a two-year option, one of the worst contracts I ever signed.”
“My first year was $120,000, but that’s as an independent contractor, so that means I had to pay my own taxes and no health insurance. The lesson that I learned, you can’t sell out for a name.”
Jemele Hill went on to explain her reasons for walking away from her daily spot on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
“The thing about ‘SportsCenter,’ [it] was never my dream job, so it was easy to walk away. That’s because I was unhappy. I didn’t like the job. I didn’t like some of the things they were doing to our show, I didn’t like the leadership that was in charge of our show so I was like, ‘Let me find something else within the company to do.'”
Since leaving ESPN, the outspoken journalist has launched her own production company as well as her own podcast “Jemele Hill is Unbothered.” According to reports, Jemele Hill has plans on releasing a book later this year titled, “Uphill: A Memoir.”
See full interview below:
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