After spending nearly three decades at ESPN, Kenny Mayne is hitting free agency.
The longtime “SportsCenter” anchor tweeted on Monday that he will be leaving the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” Mayne, who joined the network in 1994, will make his final ESPN appearance on May 24, and his current contract will officially end on May 31.
I am leaving ESPN.
Salary cap casualty.
Thanks for the opportunity Vince Doria & Al Jaffe & for taking my solicitations
I will miss the people.
I will miss the vending machine set up over by the old Van Pelt joint.
We had everything.
— Kenny Mayne (@Kenny_Mayne) May 10, 2021
Mayne’s announcement brought on an outpouring of support and admiration for his run at ESPN. It also led some fans to ask one big question: Why would the company let one of its most respected and well-known personalities walk away?
In an interview with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, Mayne explained that he “wasn’t exactly flattered” by ESPN’s most recent offer, so he rejected it. The conversation ended right there.
“It was a significant pay cut. It was a big pay cut to do essentially the same job,” Mayne said. “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.”
While that may sound harsh, Mayne doesn’t plan to take shots at the company on his way out the door.
“I wish them well. Most of my friends are there. I’m not bitter or in some big battle with ESPN,” Mayne said. “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. …
“I’m not sad. I’m happy. And again I mean this: I don’t have some big vendetta against ESPN. It’s not, ‘Those bastards!’ Nothing like that. It’s all good. They gave me 27 years. I gave them 27 years. It doesn’t seem like they wanted me to stay very much. It almost seems like they offered me something that I would turn down, and I did.”
As for what comes next, Mayne told Deitsch that it’s simply too early to know where he will land, but he will likely stay involved with sports coverage and possibly do some commercial work.