Samantha Ponder
Samantha Steele at Iowa State.jpg
Ponder reporting for Fox College Sports at Jack Trice Stadium in October 2010
Samantha Sainte-Claire Steele

(1985-12-11) December 11, 1985 (age 37)
Alma materThe King’s College
Liberty University
OccupationESPN Sunday NFL Countdown host
Years active2006–present
(m. 2012)

Samantha Ponder (née Steele;[1] born December 11, 1985) is an American sportscaster who is the host of Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN.[2] Prior to hosting Sunday NFL Countdown, Ponder worked as a reporter/host for ESPN college football and as a basketball sideline reporter.[3] Ponder replaced Erin Andrews on College GameDay Saturdays at 10 AM ET on ESPN, as well as co-host of the Saturday 9 AM ET edition on ESPNU.[4] In addition to her duties on College Gameday, Ponder had been the regular sideline reporter for ESPN's Thursday Night College Football with Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack from August 2012 until 2014.[5] Ponder also appeared on the ESPN-owned Texas-oriented regional network Longhorn Network.


Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Ponder attended Central High School in Phoenix. Ponder first attended The King's College in New York City[6] after high school. While in New York City, she applied for a hostess job at ESPN Zone where she met Ben Keeperman, a college football researcher and manager with ABC Sports Radio and that led to an internship at the network which in turn led to a researcher-assistant job with ABC-TV on the college football studio show.[7] She transferred to Liberty University after Liberty's Sr. Sports Producer Bruce Carey offered her a job as sideline reporter for the Liberty Flames sports television network.[8] After graduating in 2009, she worked for Fox Sports Net and Fox College Sports as a sideline reporter for Pac-10 and Big 12 college basketball and football games. On July 7, 2011, ESPN's Longhorn Network announced that it had hired Ponder as a sideline reporter.[9] Ponder, along with Kevin Dunn and Lowell Galindo, were the newly created network's first three talent hires.[8] After accepting her position with the Longhorn Network, Ponder relocated to Austin, Texas.[8]

Personal life

Ponder is a Christian.[10] After a brief courtship, she married then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder on December 17, 2012, in Hudson, Wisconsin.[11] She started appearing on ESPN/ABC broadcasts by her married name, starting with the January 1, 2013 broadcast of the CapitalOne Bowl.[12] In July 2014, the couple had their first daughter, Bowden Sainte-Claire "Scout". They also have a son, Robinson True, born in June 2017, and a daughter, Price Anne-Drew, born in July 2018.[13][14][15]


  1. ^ "Ponder marries ESPN sideline reporter in Hudson". KARE. December 19, 2012. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Karangu, Jessie (March 23, 2017). "Sam Ponder is named Sunday NFL Countdown host, Trey Wingo and Suzy Kolber take on new roles". USA Today. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Samantha Steele". ESPN MediaZone. July 7, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  4. ^ McIntyre, Jason (July 11, 2012). "Samantha Steele to Replace Erin Andrews as Host of Gameday on ESPNU; Heather Cox New Saturday Night Sideline Reporter". Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  5. ^ "ESPN drafts Pollack to replace James on Thursday games". USA Today. June 24, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  6. ^ "Samantha Steele: From Liberty Mountain to the pinnacle of sports broadcasting". Liberty University. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  7. ^ "Samantha Steele took unlikely path to replacing Erin Andrews at ESPN". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c "Liberty Alum Steele Hired by Longhorn Network". Liberty University. July 8, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  9. ^ "Talent with Texas ties joining Longhorn Network". Houston Chronicle. July 7, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  10. ^ Romano, Jason (March 24, 2017). "Samantha Ponder Replacing Chris Berman on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown". Sports Spectrum. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  11. ^ "Vikings' Ponder takes a hike, marries in Wisconsin". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  12. ^ "Introducing Samantha Ponder". Diamond Joe's Media Rantz. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  13. ^ "Say Hello to Bowden Sainte-Claire. SamPonder". July 23, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  14. ^ "Sam Ponder on Instagram: "Happy 1st birthday to the girl who saved me from myself, reminded me of who I want to be and showed me the grace and mercy of the God who…"". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  15. ^ "Sam Ponder on Instagram: "It's hard for me to write a sentence about Price Anne-Drew Ponder without crying or laughing…"". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved August 14, 2021.