As a journalist with over 20 years in the game, it would be remiss of Jemele Hill to hold out on shedding light on her career path.
In a recent interview with Troy Millings and Rashad Bilal for REVOLT TV’s “Assets Over Liabilities,” The Atlantic writer spoke out on the reasoning behind her making less money than her former “His & Hers” co-host on ESPN, Michael Smith.
The "Why" Behind It All
Hill shared with Bilal and Millings that the significant difference in her and Smith’s salaries wasn’t connected to their resumes or experience. She believes getting the short end of the stick was on her own behalf for not standing firm on what she actually wanted out of her role at the time.
“I was making $200,000 less than him even though we were doing the same job,” she told “Assets Over Liabilities,” according to BET. “It’s not so much about what you’re worth, it’s about what you will negotiate. I started at ESPN at such a low salary to begin with. One of those, ‘We’ll see how it works kind of contracts. A 2-and-2 contract: two-year deal with a two-year option, one of the worst contracts I ever signed.”
She continued: “My first year was $120,000, but that’s as an independent contractor, so that means I had to pay my own taxes and no health insurance. The lesson that I learned, you can’t sell out for a name.”
Jemele Hill On Improving Her Financial Literacy
Although Hill officially cut ties with ESPN in 2018 in the midst of controversy, she still credits it as a learning experience for her growth in the industry — especially in terms of her finances.
“It wasn’t until I got to ESPN that I really got serious about the business side of journalism because I got to see what people made. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s possible?!’ ESPN forced me to really grow up because it’s a different game being played at that level than it is at the previous places I had been,” she said. “This is the first time I had an agent and the first time I really had to learn how to manage my money.”