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Following Monday’s news that Kenny Mayne is ending his celebrated 27-year tenure at ESPN, the on-air personality said he left the company after the two could not agree on a new contract. In an interview published Wednesday, Mayne said he was asked to take a “significant” pay cut to do what he described as the same job.
“It was a significant pay cut. It was a big pay cut to do essentially the same job,” Mayne told The Athletic. “It was a 14% reduction in time worked and a 61% reduction in money earned. I thought the variance was too much.” ESPN declined to comment on the figures.
“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,” Mayne continued. “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.”
Mayne joined ESPN in 1994 and was one of the main “SportsCenter” anchors, before moving on to more esoteric and offbeat features. He had returned to sporadically anchoring the 11 p.m. ET version of “SportsCenter” in recent years.
ESPN has been in cost-cutting mode on the editorial side since late last year. In November, ESPN boss Jimmy Pitaro revealed to staff that the company was laying off 300 employees and revoking 200 open positions. That was followed by the shuttering of the eSports division.
Mayne’s departure follows that of another longtime anchor, Trey Wingo, who departed the company last year. That exit came after the departures of top documentary executives Connor Schell and Libby Geist, though neither of those were related to the job cuts.
“I’m not bitter or in some big battle with ESPN,” Mayne added in the Wednesday interview. “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.”
Read the full interview with The Athletic here.
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