ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith makes millions of dollars yelling “LA-BRAWN James!” into a television camera and acting morally offended at literally anything and everything his co-host says. Smith has perfected his tailored version of
analysis performance art and it has made him one of the faces of the Worldwide Leader.
In a recent profile by Vinson Cunningham of The New Yorker, Smith revealed that some of the greatest business advice he’s ever received came from Donald Trump, who appeared on Smith’s Quite Frankly show (which was cancelled in 2007).
“I need you to brace yourself,” he said. “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 “Quite Frankly,” which aired from 2005 to 2007. “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.’ ” (A variation of this maxim is often attributed to J. Paul Getty, whose company, coincidentally, provided the early backing for ESPN.) “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.
“I’m incredibly disappointed in him behaviorally,” he quickly added. “But that’s it. I don’t get into the politics.”
Smith followed Trump’s advice in 2016 when he fired his agent and joined powerhouse talent agency CAA in Los Angeles to chase the $25 million FS1 handed to Skip Bayless.