Stephen A. Smith on The OGs Podcast Photo credit: The OGs Podcast

Stephen A. Smith is seeking a massive payday, even though he believes his detractors are out to prevent it from happening.

Smith is in the final year of his ESPN contract which is set to expire in July 2025. Negotiations are ongoing, with ESPN reportedly already offering Smith $18 million annually over five years, while the First Take host is supposedly seeking a deal worth closer to $25 million. But not everyone is rooting for it to happen.

On the latest episode of The OGs Podcast with Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, Smith spoke about NBA players and other professional athletes facilitating false narratives about him because they objected to some of his previous commentary.

“I’m gonna tell you something and I ain’t say it publicly, but I’m gonna say this now,” Smith told Haslem and Miller. “You think I haven’t noticed that the steam has elevated since everybody knows my contract is coming up? You think I’m that stupid? You think I don’t know what they’re trying to do?

“What these cats are trying to do is trying to bait me so I will do something stupid, so I will get in the way of my dollars. Now, it’s as obvious as the sky is blue on a sunny day in Miami. But here’s the real question, why would you want to do that? Why?”

“I have never worked less than 320 days a year in my career at ESPN or in this business. I show up,” Smith continued. “I’ve been No. 1 for 12 years in the morning on First Take. In terms of ratings and revenue, I’ve been a number one talent for a decade. This ain’t about ESPN, this is about the cats coming at me…I’m talking about the cynics and the critics. As hard as I work, as much as I work, along with the results I provide, if I don’t get paid, who’s getting paid?”

Smith reiterated that he wasn’t referring to ESPN or Disney, insisting his relationship with them is strong even amid their negotiations over a new contract. But he seemed confused by the motives of his cynics, which he says are “primarily emulating from our community.” Smith noted he’s worked to help HBCUs, raising more than “$87 million in scholarships.” And he claims he’s always there to help anyone in his profession, pointing to the diversity on First Take.

Smith did not call anyone out specifically regarding the supposed cynics attempting to “bait” him into doing “something stupid” to get in the way of his upcoming payday. But those accusations aside, Smith seems like he’s on a fairly clear path to making more than $20 million annually, whether that money comes from ESPN or a variety of companies.

[The OGs Podcast]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to