While Stephen A. Smith has been regularly bashed by many for his regular brand of hot takery, he’s certainly well thought of inside ESPN. There’s a good argument he’s now the face of the company, especially from 2016 on, and beyond First Take (one of ESPN’s most-emphasized studio properties at this point), he’s regularly featured on SportsCenter and specials, even when it hasn’t worked out well. And it turns out that even many of those new to ESPN like Smith, for some reason.
ESPN PR intern Paul Herlihey created an infographic Monday with information on and survey responses from the network’s 2018 summer interns, and of the 39 (of 55) interns who responded to the survey, 34 percent (presumably 13 with rounding) picked Smith as their “favorite ESPN talent,” more than any other selection:
There’s a lot of other interesting material in there, from Jon “Stugotz” Weiner getting a vote and Dan Le Batard not getting one (maybe the intern really liked Stugotz’s Eli Manning take?) to Teddy Atlas (pulled off live fights in December, reportedly over critical comments) and Jemele Hill (who prominently left SC6 in January for a role at The Undefeated) getting votes. And beyond the favorite talent section, it’s interesting to see the favorite teams mentioned here (which can be mostly summarized as “Recent winners, New York teams, and Atlanta teams) and the vote for the G.O.A.T. (Jeter, really? And Kobe got a vote? Perhaps he counts as an ESPN intern with his Detail show, as it’s hard to see anyone other than Kobe himself choosing him over Jordan and LeBron).
But the amount of love for Smith is perhaps the most significant thing here, and it’s interesting that there’s so much support for him from what’s presumably a relatively young demographic. He’s certainly turned himself into a big ESPN personality, and has managed to get paid very, very well for shouting about sports. So maybe that is a career goal for some. And maybe his recent “I go to work every day with two missions. Two! No. 1: how can I make my bosses more money? And No. 2: how can I get some of it?” quote is inspiring to some. At any rate, it seems the Stephen A. love in Bristol extends to the ranks of the interns.