Dan Le Batard and Mina Kimes Dan Le Batard and Mina Kimes on the South Beach Sessions podcast

Dan Le Batard doesn’t know this version of Mina Kimes. At least he didn’t before when they worked with one another at ESPN.

Kimes joined Le Batard’s South Beach Sessions podcast and for the first time, at least, publicly, Le Batard professed just how proud he is of Kimes and how far she’s come.

ESPN offered Kimes a position after she wrote an essay on Tumblr about a bond between herself and her father and the Seattle Seahawks. As Le Batard put it, Kimes came to sports journalism—ESPN—knowing sports but knowing next to nothing about sports journalism and the history of The Worldwide Leader.

“You have gotten so strong. Like, I don’t think people listening to this have any earthly idea, the degree of difficulty of what you have done to get to where you are,” Le Batard told Kimes. “And I’d like them to know it. I’d like them to see it.”

“You were as raw as a novice could be.”

The NFL studio analyst has made quite the name for herself, cementing a place among the most sought-after talents in the sports media space. And once her contract with ESPN expires in 2023, the line starts behind Dan Le Batard and Meadowlark Media. And then behind them are Bill Simmons and The Ringer.

The Kimes that Le Batard doesn’t know is the Kimes that appears on ESPN’s NFL Live. As she grew into her role and became more comfortable being on TV, Kimes isn’t as hard on herself. That always wasn’t the case when the pair worked together on Highly Questionable. Kimes was often hard on herself. And Le Batard saw it first-hand.

“It’s really fun. It’s really easy. And even if it’s not great, it’s another day and it’s over.” Kimes said regarding her experience on NFL Live. “Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes I’m like, ‘God damn, that crushed…’ And then the next show is kind of a stinker, but it’s ******* fine. And that’s like the life I’ve wanted with being on TV.”

“I don’t know that Mina Kimes, I don’t think so,” Le Batard said. “Maybe towards the end we worked together, but I would say that Mina being that kind of comfortable with the experience is not something that was on Highly Questionable until the end.”

Kimes said she had never had true anxiety and the various physical manifestations of it until she started doing TV in 2016-17. Everything else in her life she could prepare for. This was somebody who went to Yale University. And appearing on TV was a much more daunting task than taking any test.

She later said that she didn’t loosen up on TV or really start to feel loose until the COVID-19 pandemic, jokingly saying that the “stakes did feel very low.” And that’s when they were doing Highly Questionable over Zoom.

“But this is one of the reasons that I say, uncomfortably, that I’m proud of you because you have under duress, under unpleasant circumstances, you’ve found and derived both real strength and real confidence,” Le Batard said. “And it wasn’t easy to come by. Like, it was hard. You had to earn it.”

Le Batard wanted to hit home the point that Kimes doesn’t seem different, it’s that she’s “stronger.”

And over the years, as Kimes put it, she has taken a lot of “****.” And with that, Kimes still feels like she has to prove herself every single time. Even if Le Batard and the rest of the sports media world have a mountain of evidence that she’s one of the best that the industry has to offer.

[Le Batard & Friends — South Beach Sessions]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.