An ESPN personality for nearly a decade, Mina Kimes’ contract is set to expire this year, and she’ll have no shortage of suitors.
“I feel like Tom Hanks in ‘Big,’” Kimes told The Washington Post. “Like a high person who is like, ‘F—, does everyone know I’m high?’ That’s how I feel on TV sometimes: ‘How am I here? Did they check ID’s?’”
A successful NFL studio analyst who never played, coached or worked as a team executive is a rarity. But in a white male-dominated sports media industry littered with former professional football players as analysts, a petite Asian-American woman analyzing the NFL is something few people could have recently foreseen. And yet Kimes is doing it, and she’s doing it incredibly well on what might be ESPN’s best studio show, NFL Live.
Despite still needing to pinch herself during the occasional “how am I here?” moment, Kimes will have opportunities to test the waters away from ESPN if she chooses, with Bill Simmons and The Ringer already standing toward the front of that line.
While The Ringer doesn’t boast ESPN’s NFL reach, maybe offering the opportunity to transcend sports would be appealing for someone as versatile as Kimes, a Yale graduate and former investigative business reporter who can break down football with the best of them. In addition to hosting NFL Live, Kimes has her podcast, she’s called games, and still contributes as a reporter, helping to break a bombshell New York Mets report featuring sexual harassment allegations two years ago.
But ESPN and Simmons won’t be alone in vying for Kimes’ talents. According to The Post’s profile, Kimes’ agent, Michael Klein, said several networks reached out to schedule meetings this week at the Super Bowl to discuss her future. The Post posed the possibility that Kimes could have her podcast with one company, while joining another for NFL studio work.
Kimes joined ESPN in 2014 and signed her last multi-year deal in 2018. Then considered a rising star at the network, Kimes is now an indisputable star at the Worldwide Leader, even if she was an improbable one.
“Listeners and viewers have more in common with me than anyone else on set,” she told The Post.