Mina Kimes on her "The Mina Kimes Show with Lenny" podcast. Mina Kimes on her “The Mina Kimes Show with Lenny” podcast. (Mina Kimes on YouTube.)

Mina Kimes was among the biggest sports media free agents of 2023 before reupping with ESPN last fall. Now, the popular NFL analyst is acknowledging just how close she got to departing the worldwide leader.

In a Q&A with Pete Croatto for Poynter published Wednesday, Kimes revealed she was “seriously considering” leaving ESPN for a “really cool” opportunity based in Los Angeles, where she lives.

Kimes clearly thought long and hard about leaving the company that launched her foray into sports journalism nearly a decade ago, but her coveted role as a panelist on NFL Live and her ties to ESPN’s NFL crew were too hard to pass up.

“It was just impossible to imagine myself at the end of the day not working with them,” Kimes told Poynter. “I truly look forward to it, and that’s really, really hard to leave.”

Last year, as Kimes contemplated her future, Spotify’s head of innovation and monetization and The Ringer managing director Bill Simmons openly pursued her.

“She’s been my number one draft pick for a while,” Simmons told the Washington Post.

Given that The Ringer is based in Los Angeles at Spotify’s downtown offices, simple logic would indicate this is the opportunity Kimes is referencing to Poynter.

In the end, Kimes returned to ESPN while adding a collaboration with Omaha Productions to her resume. This collaboration was highlighted by her own YouTube channel, which featured NFL analysis and a Love Is Blind recap show.

“ESPN has invested pretty heavily in YouTube,” Kimes told Awful Announcing last year. “And our staff, which is led by Jeremy Fitch, they do a really good job of seeing where things are going and how more of my listeners were actually consuming podcast content there and going there for all their viewing needs.”

“And so when I was thinking ‘Okay, what could be next for the show, what could be next for me personally at ESPN?’, when I re-signed, that was something that just popped into my head as a way to continue growing and making things and also just kind of follow viewers and listeners where they are.”

Kimes told Poynter she sees herself eventually returning to business analysis (she previously was a reporter at Bloomberg) or expanding into pop culture chatter. For now, she will continue to be a featured face of the country’s biggest sport on the country’s biggest network.


About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.