Samantha Ponder is ESPN’s sideline reporter and studio co-host, hosting ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. Previously, she was a contributor to college football and basketball games. 

On December 11, 1985, she was born in Phoenix, Arizona, to Jerry Steele and Cindi Steele. Her father was a basketball player. Perhaps, her passion for sports journalism evolved from her father’s career. 

Samantha Ponder started at Longhorn Network.

She attended Central High School in Phoenix and then went to The King’s College in New York City. While in NYC, she applied for a job as a hostess at ESPN Zone, where she met a college football researcher and manager with ABC Sports Radio, Ben Keeperman, who helped her land an internship at the network. 

Samantha Ponder as a sideline reporter for ESPN

Later, she got the job of researcher-assistant on ABC TV on the college football studio show.  She transferred to the Liberty University after the university’s senior sports producer Bruce Carey offered her a job as a sideline reporter for the Liberty Flames sports television network. 

After graduating from Liberty in 2009, she worked for Fox Sports Net and Fox College Sports as a sideline reporter for Pac-10 and Big 12 college football and basketball games. ESPN’s Longhorn Network hired Sam as a sideline reporter on July 7, 2011. Moreover, Ponder, Lowell Galindo and Kevin Dunn were the first three talents hired by the newly created network.

Ponder moves to ESPN

Samantha Ponder later became the network’s sideline reporter on Thursday Night College Football and co-host of College Football GameDay.

Samantha Ponder said that she decided to leave sideline reporting to spend more time with her husband and daughter Scout in a lengthy caption of an Instagram post

Ponder later relocated to Austin, Texas. In August 2015, she announced that she wouldn’t be working as a sideline reporter for ESPN to spend more time with her family. She worked on College Gameday as a sideline reporter, among other positions, before transitioning in 2017 into her current work as the host of Sunday NFL Countdown

Feud with Barstool Sports

In October 2017, ESPN canceled Barstool Van Talk after a single episode. The Sunday NFL Countdown host was claimed to be the catalyst behind the demise of the talk show. She brought an explicit David Portnoy (Barstool founder) 2014 blog post and rant mentioning her through a cold welcome to her new colleague, Dan “Big Cat” Katz, on Twitter. Then-president of ESPN, John Skipper, decided to pull the plug on the ESPN-Barstool partnership.

Samantha Ponder brought the explicit Barstool blog of 2014 while posting a welcomed message for Dan "Big Cat" Katz to ESPN

Later, Pontroy called Ponder cancer spreading and infecting the network. Then, she defended herself through a series of Instagram stories stating that she didn’t want Van Talk to be canceled. And that she had been willing to appear on the show to discuss her issues. 

Portnoy responded with a lengthy post titled In The Face Of Plunging Ratings And Unheard of Unpopularity Sam Ponder Has Resorted To Flat Out Lying About Barstool Sports To Save Her Job At ESPN.

Married life of Samantha Ponder

Shortly after Samantha Ponder started dating then Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, she married him on December 17, 2012, in Hudson, Wisconsin. Furthermore, Ponder started appearing on ESPN/ABC broadcasts by her married name on January 1, 2013, broadcast of CapitalOne Bowl

Samantha Ponder and Christian Ponder with their children, two daughters and a son

The couple welcomed their first daughter, Bowden Sainte-Claire “Scout,” in July 2014. She gave birth to a boy, True, in June 2017 and a girl, Price, in July 2018. She remains devoted to her kids and frequently shares cute family pictures on social media.