If you’re a fan of sports, chances are you’re a follower of sports-caster Kenny Mayne. The former ESPN “Sports Center” (and KOMO) anchor is known for his dry sense of humor and his many years delivering the day’s highlights. For those who follow Mayne on Twitter (he boasts well over 350,000 followers), his appreciation for good news or acts of bravery or human courage are often at the ‘fore. For example, Mayne founded Run Freely, which has helped raise money for veterans in need of prosthetic limbs.
Today, though, Mayne is set for a new life adventure. He left ESPN earlier this year after 27 years with the company, and what lies ahead for the former college quarterback-turned-sports (and “Wilder World of Sports”) anchor is still unknown — well, there is this Olympics show he’ll be hosting this summer. We caught up with Mayne, who is originally from Kent, to ask him about his plans, appreciation for golf, travel tips and much more.
What have you been doing since your ESPN retirement? Are you taking time to relax? What did you do today, perhaps?
Today, I played golf. It was a charity event to honor a former ESPN person who passed away in a car accident. And this friend of mine throws it every year — it’s pretty cool. We actually raised some money for a scholarship fund and saw a bunch of old friends. Now I’m with my wife and youngest daughter, eating pasta because our propane tank ran out and we can’t cook anything. But we’re going to get propane, so that’s our goal for tomorrow.
Was the golf event in Washington where you’re from?
No, I’m in Connecticut. I was just in Washington for a couple of weeks. But headquarters will be Connecticut because our youngest is only coming into 10th grade, so whatever I end up doing for work will be by airplane or remote.
What traveling are you doing these days?
We’re going to St Barts in a week for vacation, and we’re going to take every mode of transportation there is. We’re driving, staying at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport and then we’re flying on big planes and little planes.
Have you been there before?
Yes, when I got married in 2017, [my wife], Gretchen and I went there for our honeymoon, and we’ve been back once. This will be my third time, actually. I think it’s my favorite place on earth. It’s beautiful with nice beaches, good food and nice people.
What kind of food do you get there?
Everything! Obviously, seafood. But there is a great pizza place we like that’s kind of low-key. I think we’re 100% — I don’t think we’ve ever had anything we didn’t like.
Do you have favorite places to visit for recreation, food and sports?
I like going to the Peninsula in Washington – take the ferry across from Seattle to Bainbridge. I’ve got a good friend who belongs to a golf club over there, right there off the ferry. And I love just driving around, seeing whatever you see. Because I don’t know that part of the state as well. Obviously, I’m from the other side. But I love going all the way out to Port Townsend. Keep going all the way to the Olympic National Forest. I mean, I always tell people that Seattle – I’ve been everywhere just about – and when it’s nice, or even when it’s not nice, but particularly when it’s nice, it’s the prettiest place in America. Last week, I just went up to Whatcom and played a golf course by Lake Whatcom.
I guess I didn’t know golf was so integral to your lifestyle these days – are there courses you particularly love?
I don’t know if it’s that important – it’s just something to do. It’s so boring in Connecticut that I have to find something to do. My wife entertains me, but she needs her space from me. I can only watch her do Pilates for so long! But, yeah, I got to play Chambers [Bay]. I love Gamble Sands, which is close to the border. I mean, there are just so many!
May I ask, what went into your decision to leave ESPN, and what will you be doing in place of that work?
Probably a variety of things. I haven’t decided; I’ve only been gone for under three weeks – or three weeks on the nose, actually. I made a couple of commercials already. I made a miniature golf series, which I’m proud of, and I saw people were interested in that, strangely enough. But no, I’m just going to do this and that. I’m talking to other people about something slightly more permanent, but it’s too early to say what that will be. I might make a movie – who knows? I just have a whole bunch of things in the air – I might do this, I might do that. But right now, there’s no requirement that I decide today. So, we’re going to go on vacation and have some talks, figure out what makes the most sense. I’ve had a whole bunch of conversations with a whole bunch of people, and there will be more of them this week, and we’ll see who says what and how it hits me.
What advice would you give people who want to get into sports or sports-casting?
Well, the good news is there’s so many more ways to do it. You can open an Instagram or Twitter or go to YouTube. You can do many more things to get your name out there and improve your product. When, in my day, you had to get hired by one of a handful of stations. There were no other avenues, right? So, I think the opportunity is there. But I always tell people, “Be doing something.” Whatever that thing is, go cover junior high football and tape it with your iPhone and make commentary and put it on YouTube. That’s your first one. Then move up to high school from there, or the local college. Just keep doing something, and, obviously, your second day will be better than your first. So, be active.
Do you ever have work dreams? I used to be a waiter, and I’d have nightmares about too full tables or tickets not printing. Do you have similar ones related to sports?
Yeah, I think we all have those. I didn’t have them very often. But I think the occasional, “You’re on the air in one minute,” and you’re not even working that day, and you have nothing prepared did happen. But the good news is that I’ve done it so many times. I probably could have pulled that show off! But I’d rather not. I’d rather be prepared. But, yeah, I think we all have those little anxiety dreams where, like, you’re not prepared. My dreams have been better since May 31. I don’t know what they’re about, but they haven’t been that!
Any travel tips?
When you’re going somewhere nice, try to bring swim trunks and shorts. You know, have something to wear off the airplane in the event your luggage gets lost. Gretchen and I went to Greece years ago, and they lost our luggage for, like, three days. We were only staying for a week, and we didn’t have our luggage for three days. So, it’s wise to have a backup. Be prepared. I also like to be early; don’t be rushed. I’m kind of boring – I travel a bit how I drive a boat. I like to be cautious and under control.
What do you love most about what you do?
Since I don’t know what I do, I love the surprise factor of what I’m about to do. No, I don’t know, I mean, I’ll be doing something borderline related to what I have been doing, so just the variety of it – I like not being in one thing. Each night’s kind of new. Or each experience might be new. Right now, my wife says I’m on the “Kenny Mayne Ego Tour,” and I’ve been enjoying it!