Why Cari Champion Really Left ESPN


In 2020, Cari Champion announced that she was leaving her post on ESPN. “After consulting with mentors, family and friends, I have come to the decision that it’s time to leave ESPN,” Champion tweeted (via Sports Illustrated). “ESPN will always be a part of my legacy and I am proud to have been a part of theirs.”

Years later, the journalists opened up about her time at the sports network, particularly as the debate moderator on “First Take.” During an appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Champion recalled feeling unappreciated by ESPN. The television personality recalled first auditioning for the show, and said she immediately felt handicapped as she believed the network wanted to hire “a blonde” for the role. 

And while Champion even nabbed the position, she recalled feeling stifled during her time with the show. “They let me know I didn’t matter,” Champion said. “Intentionally, unintentionally. It was obvious. ‘You don’t matter Just be happy that you’re here. Ask questions. Don’t talk. Be happy that you’re here.'”

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