Tony Kornheiser’s Comments About Hannah Storm’s Tight SportsCenter Skirt May Have Helped Her ESPN Contract Negotiations

  • Dan Fogarty

Remember that much talked-about ESPN book? The one where we learned about how crazy Keith Olbermann was during his SportsCenter days, about how Bill Simmons refused to play nice with Bristol higher-ups, and about how a former anchor once peed (into a bottle!) in the corner of a crowded nightclub?

Well, this week, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales are releasing the paperback edition of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, complete with 50 pages of new material. Some of that new material covers the famous Hannah Storm dress kerfuffle, which was all started by a certain cranky, bald-headed PTI host.

In February of 2010, Tony Kornheiser got into trouble when he made comments about Storm on his DC-based radio show. Kornheiser described Storm’s outfit during a then-recent airing of SportsCenter as “horrifying,” and suggested her skirt (a “Catholic school plaid skirt”) was “way too short for somebody her age.” Storm is 49 (she was 47 at the time of this whole controversy).

FYI: this was the outfit in question.

Kornheiser was suspended from PTI for two weeks for his comments, and he later apologized to Storm. She, meanwhile, was apparently the victim of some nasty emails and voice messages, and her outfits were a popular source of gossip for her Bristol colleagues. But, although that kind of thing is obviously not fun to deal with, Kornheiser’s crotchety old man comments may have helped her during her contract negotiations with ESPN.’s Richard Deitsch got a hold of some of the new material from the paperback. Here’s an excerpt:

“Kornheiser’s comments would leave behind an ironic legacy. His suspension by no means put an end to coworkers’ fascination with Hannah Storm’s outfits — the gossiping and backbiting never even slowed down — but in a way, Storm had cause to be extremely grateful to her cranky nemesis. Before Kornheiser volunteered his crude form of fashion commentary that day, Storm was in negotiations to renew her ESPN contract at a yearly figure stuck in the mid seven hundred thousands. But her “ordeal,” and the ensuing attention it brought her, very likely contributed to the fact that once the new contract was signed and sealed, the happy number for her was $1.2 million. As one executive said, “Kornheiser opened up his mouth and got clipped for two weeks’ salary, but Hannah walked away with a dividend of close to half a million dollars.”