Mina Kimes watches a lot of sports. A lot. She also reads about sports and thinks about sports and talks about sports and writes about sports. Her workweek is a world away from her previous life as an investigative financial journalist. “I really didn’t think I’d be doing any of this stuff,” Kimes, 34, said.
An award-winning business writer, Kimes had a seven-year career at Fortune and Bloomberg, exposing illegal activities at a medical-device giant and profiling CEOs. But it was her Tumblr post detailing her love for the Seattle Seahawks (she describes herself as a lifelong “psychotic NFL fan”) that caught ESPN’s attention.
“You only get so many opportunities in life to work in a field that you are already passionate about and love, and I felt like I couldn’t say no to that,” she said.
Since starting at the sports network in 2014 as a senior writer, Kimes has found a natural affinity for hosting and commentary, making regular appearances on the network’s TV programs and podcasts. Over the summer, she was selected to do color commentary for the Los Angeles Rams during the preseason.
“People are really excited right now to see women in new roles,” she said. “When I was young, as a crazy football addict, it wasn’t something I saw, and maybe that’s why I thought it was never something I can do.”
In October, Kimes became the host of the network’s flagship daily news podcast, “ESPN Daily.” And now she watches even more sports.
We connected in November.
9 a.m. I usually wake up much earlier — between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. most days — but I went to bed super late (for me) on Saturday, after my colleague Dan Le Batard’s wedding in Miami. I roll out of bed and drag myself to a Starbucks next to my hotel so that I can get a spinach feta wrap. I probably eat two to four of these a week, depending on whether or not I’m traveling. My spinach feta wrap usage rate is off the charts.
4 p.m. After watching the early NFL games at my hotel (I usually watch two games at once, sometimes switching at halftime), I meet up with my friend Mike Ryan, who produces Dan’s radio show, at a sports bar in Wynwood. I normally watch football by myself because I mutate into an anti-social gremlin when I’m trying to focus, but Mike knows the drill. We eat wings and lose our minds when the Cardinals fumble away the ball at the end of the game, resulting in a last-second push.
11:30 p.m. Throughout the day, I text with one of our NFL writers, Bill Barnwell, who is based in Washington, D.C., about what we should discuss on Monday’s episode of “ESPN Daily.” We record on Sunday nights so that we can chat about the games, but we decide to discuss Colin Kaepernick’s workout from earlier in the weekend instead. As soon as “Sunday Night Football” ends, Bill and I tape an hourlong conversation with devices called Comrex machines that allow us to connect to ESPN’s network. My producer Eve later cuts it into a 10-minute segment. (God bless her.)
10 a.m. I’m still in Miami, so I’m going to appear on one of our afternoon shows, “Highly Questionable.” After reading all morning, I jump on a phone call with our producers to bounce my takes off them.
11:30 a.m. I swing by the set of “The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz,” which is a televised radio show, to do a few segments. I joined ESPN as a writer; I’ve only been doing commentary for about three years, and Dan (along with Stu) has played a big role in influencing not only how I talk about sports, but what I believe sports commentary can and should be. It’s the morning after a massive weekend in football, so naturally we do an extended riff where we all play different roles in a fictional medieval court. That’s not a joke. That’s a thing that happened. My character is a witch.
1:15 p.m. Dan and I sit for a taping in the “Highly Questionable” studio, which is inside the Clevelander South Beach hotel. One of my frequent collaborators and close friends, Domonique Foxworth, joins us from D.C.
8 p.m. After cobbling together a sad little dinner in the Delta lounge, I board a plane back to Los Angeles. While keeping an eye on the Monday night game (it’s always a pleasant surprise when satellite TV works), I prepare for my football podcast, which I’ll record tomorrow, by gathering statistics and watching tape from some of the games I missed on Sunday. The Chargers are playing, so I make sure to shut down my laptop when it’s the end of the fourth quarter, knowing that Philip Rivers will inevitably try to mount a frantic comeback.
7:30 a.m. While walking my dog, Lenny, I join a production call for today’s podcast. We usually plan stories a few days in advance, but frequently scrap them in response to the sports news. I like taking calls while I’m walking Lenny, but it’s always awkward, trying to juggle a phone while picking up after your dog.
10 a.m. I write and record the final block of our show, which is a monologue. Today’s segment is a brief meditation on the Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.
1 p.m. After lunch, I tape an interview with one of our top MLB writers, Jeff Passan, who is in Arlington, Texas, covering the owners’ meetings and the ongoing sign-stealing scandal.
2 p.m. As soon as I’m done talking to Jeff, I switch lines and record my football podcast, “The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny,” with Aaron Schatz of “Football Outsiders.” When I started the show, I briefly worried that people might not subscribe to a podcast hosted solo by a woman, so I considered taking on a human male co-host. Instead, I gave the job to my dog. He gets to ask one question per episode.
8 p.m. During the football season, Tuesdays are big catch-up nights for me. My husband and I order Thai food and watch “Silicon Valley.”
9 a.m. We have a long call for all of the folks who work on “ESPN Daily” to pitch ideas for upcoming episodes.
12:30 p.m. I eat an Amy’s frozen meal (if the top third of my food pyramid consists of spinach feta wraps, the bottom is all Amy’s meals), then tape an interview with another former magazine writer, Dave Fleming, to talk about a super-fun story he wrote about quarterback grips. Halfway through the interview, Lenny jumps onto my lap and licks my face; I pray that the mic doesn’t pick up the sound.
2 p.m. Another taping, this time to talk about Myles Garrett, the Browns defensive end who was recently suspended for striking another player with his helmet. Our guest is Ryan Smith, who spent time with Garrett this summer. I’ve found that one of the more challenging aspects of making a daily show is finding ways to advance a story, rather than just recapping (or debating) the news, so I was thrilled when our producers suggested Ryan as a guest.
3:30 p.m. I take a break from working and go for a run on the treadmill in my basement. I always run at this hour to avoid my dog, because it’s when he starts agitating for dinner. If it’s not obvious by now, I am a creature of habit, and I always listen to the same songs when I run, starting with “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” by Busta Rhymes.
6 p.m. I watch the Democratic debate and multitask by answering emails at the same time. Probably poorly.
6:30 a.m. Wake up, make coffee and read in my office. I’ve only been living in Los Angeles for three years, but I’ve already become a huge baby about the cold. The temperature in my house is 64 degrees, so I drape a blanket over my body and drag it around like Linus. I am also wearing a sweatshirt.
9:30 a.m. I am taping “Highly Questionable” from Los Angeles, via a remote camera, so I show up at our studio near the Staples Center to get camera ready. Our hair and makeup artists go to work. You know that scene in “Game of Thrones” where Melisandre takes off her necklace and it’s horrifying? It’s like that, but in reverse.
1 p.m. After “H.Q.” wraps, I head into our radio studio to tape an interview for the final block of tomorrow’s episode of “ESPN Daily.” The last segment is usually just me talking, but today I’m chatting with a Canadian football fan in Winnipeg who swore back in 2001 that he wouldn’t wear pants until his favorite team, the Blue Bombers, won the championship. I ask him if it’s just an excuse to wear shorts all the time, and he insists it is not.
4:30 p.m. I leave the office early so that I can get home and watch “Thursday Night Football.” While I’m stuck in traffic, I listen to “The Lowe Post” (always on 1.5 speed). I mostly listen to basketball podcasts during football season.
6:30 p.m. My husband is at a show (he’s a music producer), so I’m home alone with Lenny, watching the Texans play the Colts. Just before halftime, the Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins scores a touchdown. When the broadcast shows him handing the football to his mother, who is blind, my phone lights up — I wrote a story about their relationship about a month ago and attended one of his games with her. She’s a really special person.
7:30 a.m. Dial in to a production call for “Around the Horn.” The producers circulate a document with various topics, ideas and notes, then the panelists share their thoughts. Since it’s a Friday, it’s going to be an NFL-heavy show — my favorite kind.
10:30 a.m. I sit down in our Los Angeles studio — essentially a walk-in closet with a green screen and a bunch of bright lights — to tape the show. I’ve been a regular for two years, but because all of the “Around the Horn” panelists live in different cities, there are still some people that I haven’t met. And yet, at the risk of sounding like a huge dork, I feel like they’re all my pals.
12:30 p.m. Lunch at Katsuya. Unsurprisingly, I overdressed for the weather this morning, so I’m wearing a comically large purple scarf. It occurs to me that I look like that one Lenny Kravitz meme.
2 p.m. Tape a segment with Bill for “ESPN Daily” on how the Rams defense might try to stop the Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
6 p.m. After spending a few hours catching up on reading, I drive home. Before dinner, I do The New York Times crossword. All week, I look forward to when the Saturday puzzle drops. I’d say Friday nights were a little wilder before I entered my early 30s, but I’d be lying.