Cari Champion, host of the ESPN show “First Take” will become an anchor for “Sports Center” in July, according to The Wrap. She has the ESPN show with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless for two years, according to the Washington Post. Her last day was Friday, June 19, according to Examiner.com
Champion will be hosting in the mornings and participating in a series of “interactions” about sports and entertainment. Members of ABC’s Good Morning America will accompany her in this segment, according to The Wrap.
In “First Take,” she acted as the mediator for the debate-oriented show; it has grown in popularity over the years. It was the station’s top program besides sporting event broadcasts, according to Sports TV Ratings.
“I realized that it was going to be a tough gig as I had the biggest, strongest personalities in the building,” she said to The Wrap. Despite telling her desire to do something new, Champion spoke optimistically about her time on “First Take.”
“I’ve reached my ceiling. The growth for me has stopped in the middle seat. Now it’s time to stretch my wings,” said Champion, according to The Washington Post.
Champion will join the group of female anchors on “SportsCenter,” which include Sage Steele, Nicole Briscoe, and Linda Cohn.
ESPN had nothing but good things to say about Champion, according to The Wrap.
“On the hanful of previous occasions that Cari joined “SportsCenter” shows, her wit and enthusiasm lit up the set,” said Rob King, senior vice president of “SportsCenter” and news, in an interview with The Wrap. “Having her presence on a regular basis is a win not only for audiences watching “SportsCenter,” but also for all of us who work on the show.”
Champion is a Southern-California native and attended UCLA. She received her first reporting job in West Virginia. She also moved to Florida where she covered the Williams sisters. Champion has experience reporting news, sports and entertainment stories for NBC, ABC, CBS and other networks, according to a press release from ESPN.
Champion recently started a podcast called “Be Honest With Cari Champion,” which is presented by ESPNW, ESPN’s affiliate for women’s sports. Guests of her podcast included, Charles Barkley, Michael Rapaport and Lakers president Jeanie Buss.
Prior to working with ESPN, Champion worked as an anchor and a courtside reporter for the Tennis Channel. She also did features for Hollywood 411, The Insider and Starz Entertainment, according to ESPN.
Champion was the subject of an explicit rant on the social media website Twitter by comedian Artie Lange last year. ESPN banned the comedian from the network in response to the Tweets.