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Skip Bayless skips on ESPN reunion with Stephen A. Smith for insane 7-figure salary with FOX Sports

Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, ESPN

The original ESPN “First Take” crew was nearly reunited.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Thursday FOX Sports personality Skip Bayless almost returned to ESPN to reunite with former colleague Stephen A. Smith.

Instead, Marchand reported Bayless has signed a four-year, $32 million contract with FOX Sports.

Quite a bit of money for one of the most polarizing talk show personalities in sports. Then again, Bayless has been building his brand for some time now.

Marchand reported Stephen A. was a “driving force” in ESPN’s recruitment of Bayless, which was strewn out over the course of several months.

ESPN reportedly offered Bayless something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $30 million offer. He would have hosted a daily show with Stephen A. on ESPN+, as well as general appearances on the main network.

Bayless told the Post he remains close with Stephen A., also showing gratitude for the effort of executives at ESPN and FOX Sports:

“Stephen A Smith is even more of a brother to me than my real brother,” Bayless told The Post. “I love the man, as you know, on and off the air. Since I left ‘First Take’ for ‘Undisputed’ back in June of 2016, Stephen A. and I have remained in close touch.”

Bayless expressed an appreciation for both the leadership at Fox Sports and ESPN. He also lauded his relationship with Sharpe, saying the two get along great, even though it is not the family-like bond that he and Smith have forged. Bayless declined to go too deep into the finer points of the deal.

Skip was highly sought-after. But he will remain on “UNDISPUTED” alongside Shannon Sharpe, and make a whole lot of money doing so.