Samantha Ponder (née Steele) (born December 11, 1985) is an American sportscaster who is currently the host of Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN. Prior to hosting Sunday NFL Countdown, Ponder worked as a reporter/host for ESPN college football and as a basketball sideline reporter. 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. 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. Ponder also appeared on the ESPN-owned Texas-oriented regional network Longhorn Network.
Samantha Sainte-Claire Steele
December 11, 1985
|Alma mater||The King’s College|
|Occupation||ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown host|
|Spouse(s)||Christian Ponder (2012–present)|
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Ponder attended Central High School in Phoenix. Ponder first attended The King's College in New York City 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. 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. After leaving Liberty 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. Ponder, along with Kevin Dunn and Lowell Galindo, were the newly created network's first three talent hires. After accepting her position with the Longhorn Network, Ponder relocated to Austin, Texas.
After a brief courtship, she married then Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Christian Ponder, on December 17, 2012, in Hudson, Wisconsin. She started appearing on ESPN/ABC broadcasts by her married name, starting with the January 1, 2013 broadcast of the CapitalOne Bowl. In July 2014, the couple became parents of a daughter, Bowden Sainte-Claire “Scout”. Sam also gave birth to a boy, Robinson True, with Ponder in June 2017, and a girl, Price, in July 2018.
- "Ponder marries ESPN sideline reporter in Hudson". KARE. December 19, 2012. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- 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.
- "Samantha Steele". ESPN MediaZone. July 7, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
- McIntyre, Jason. "Samantha Steele to Replace Erin Andrews as Host of Gameday on ESPNU; Heather Cox New Saturday Night Sideline Reporter". thebiglead.com. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
- "ESPN drafts Pollack to replace James on Thursday games". USA Today. June 24, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "Samantha Steele: From Liberty Mountain to the pinnacle of sports broadcasting". Liberty University. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Samantha Steele took unlikely path to replacing Erin Andrews at ESPN". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "Liberty Alum Steele Hired by Longhorn Network". Liberty University. July 8, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
- "Talent with Texas ties joining Longhorn Network". Houston Chronicle. July 7, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
- "Vikings' Ponder takes a hike, marries in Wisconsin". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- "Introducing Samantha Ponder". Diamond Joe's Media Rantz. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
- "Say Hello to Bowden Sainte-Claire. SamPonder". twincities.com. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
- "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. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
- "Samantha Ponder Replacing Chris Berman on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown".