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Kenny Mayne has revealed further details about his “salary cap casualty” departure from ESPN.
The longtime “SportsCenter” host says that he declined a contract offer that included “a big pay cut to do essentially the same job.” The 27-year ESPN veteran’s final appearance on the network is scheduled for May 24.
“They made an offer and I wasn’t exactly flattered and decided to reject it,” Mayne told The Athletic. “It was a significant pay cut…It was a 14 percent reduction in time worked and a 61 percent reduction in money earned. I thought the variance was too much.
“I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. It’s my choice to stay or not stay. It was still a good amount of money in the real world. I’m not trying to frame this as woe for me. Nothing like that. I just think I can do better elsewhere. So I told them that I feel like you’ve got a certain over-under on my worth and I’m going to go play the over. They did not seem to care that I made that choice.”
The 61-year-old Mayne added that ESPN executives “understood” his decision, but they didn’t attempt to negotiate a new deal with him.
“It wasn’t like, ‘What would you take?’ It was ‘Here’s your offer,’” Mayne said. “I was surprised it went the way it went, but I’m OK with it. I think they might have done me a favor, actually. There are other things out there that might make me happier and might even be more lucrative.
“I’m not trying to rationalize the whole thing or trying to make myself, my wife or my kids feel better. It’s like what I said on Dan [Le Batard’s] show. It felt like a liberation week. My daughter said to me, ‘Dad, you have been talking about this since I was like 9.’ She’ll be 22 soon.”
Mayne added that one of the messages he received since the announcement, from former ESPN anchor and mentor Charley Steiner, particularly resonated.
“He told me this fun little story about his father teaching him a lesson about what is success — when you feel comfortable with what you’re doing and it has nothing to do with possessions or how much something is. It’s just the ability to say no to something and go follow your heart to something else,” Mayne said. “None of this is said with any malice. I wish them well. Most of my friends are there. I’m not bitter or in some big battle with ESPN. It didn’t work out for me.
“They made a choice. They put a number on my worth to them. I’ve been pitching many other things and to do more things for them, and they weren’t interested in those things. So it was just kind of time… Their deal wasn’t good enough for me to have to take it. It was bad enough to not take it.”
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