Stephen A. Smith is the face of ESPN, for better or worse, and he might have Donald Trump to thank.
Smith recently revealed during an interview for an article published in the June 25 issue of The New Yorker that Trump once gave him very important career advice that helped shape his ideas about the business of himself.
“I need you to brace yourself,” Smith told The New Yorker. “What I’m about to tell you is gonna blow you away. And I promise you, it will be in your article. Book it: what I’m about to tell you right now. And I wasn’t going to tell you unless you asked. The defining moment in terms of this epiphany, where it elevated to another level, was courtesy of a man now known as the President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump.”
Trump was a guest on Smith’s show, “Quite Frankly,” that aired from 2005 to 2007. Smith obviously wasn’t the household name he is today, but Trump — then a successful businessman — apparently offered a maxim that struck a chord in the polarizing sports pundit.
“And, at one point — I don’t think this was an on-air segment — he said, ‘Stephen, when you go to a bank and you borrow three million dollars, and you can’t pay it back, you’ve got a problem. But when you go to a bank and you borrow three hundred million dollars, and you can’t pay it back, we’ve got a problem,’ ” Smith told The New Yorker, detailing his conversation with Trump. “He said, ‘The moral of the story is, The more they invest in you the more they must insure your success. If you come cheap, you’re expendable. But, if you’re expensive, you’re valued. Don’t ever forget that.’ That’s what he told me. I never forgot it. Little did I know he would become the President.”
The show, “Quite Frankly,” ultimately was cancelled, and Smith even left ESPN for a short time after the company declined to renew his contract in 2009. Now, he’s one of the most recognizable figures in sports media and a staple in ESPN programming, namely its morning debate show, “First Take.”
Of course, not everyone likes Smith. Many folks, in fact, disagree with his boisterous opinions and criticize him for making bold statements he may or may not actually believe. But there’s no denying the success he’s had over the years, and it’s required plenty of hard work… and evidently a quick pep talk from Trump.
“I’m incredibly disappointed in him behaviorally,” Smith added of Trump, per The New Yorker. “But that’s it. I don’t get into the politics.”
So, there you go. This will only make Smith even more polarizing, in all likelihood.
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images