CNN Pays Don Lemon $24.5 Million to Settle Anchor’s Network Ouster | Exclusive

The former primetime anchor was ousted 10 months ago after butting heads with “CNN This Morning” cohosts

Don Lemon and CNN settle contract dispute after his April 2023 dismissal
Don Lemon and CNN settle contract dispute after his April 2023 dismissal (Credit: Getty Images/Christopher Smith for TheWrap)

Don Lemon, the former prime time host of CNN has finally agreed a deal to separate with the network.

Sources exclusively tell TheWrap that Lemon, 57, has agreed a separation deal with CNN for approximately $24.5 million, which would be the full complete pay from his final contract which extended 3.5 years from his ousting, TheWrap is told.

Lemon got in the crosshairs with CNN brass when he moved from his popular primetime show to the mornings, alongside hosts Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow. He startled his female colleagues with his implication that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, at age 51, was past her prime.

An image of the anchors at Cnn This Morning - Poppy Harlow, Don Lemon and Caitlin Collins
In happier times: CNN “This Morning” hosts Poppy Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins

Things got sour for Lemon when he said, “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon explained why he was “uncomfortable” with the age discussion. “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”

The network dismissed Lemon after his show, in what he described as a termination. “It is clear that there are some larger issues at play,” Lemon wrote on social media.

He said that he was “stunned” by the news and was informed by his agent. “I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” he said, while under the tenure of former embattled CNN chief Chris Licht, who was fired months later.

“CNN, the strategy and their content and the direction they wanted to go in, I was not a part of that,” Lemon later said in a conversation with Kara Swisher.

“They did not want me to be a part of that, and I think that has, from what has played out publicly as it relates to CNN, as it relates to management, and what they’re doing now, I think that it’s obvious that they didn’t want me to be a part of that.”

Now Lemon is preparing to launch a new show on Elon Musk’s X platform on March 11. The new program, “The Don Lemon Show,” will allow him to be “bigger, bolder, freer,” Lemon said in a posting.

The show “will be available to everyone, easily, whenever and wherever you want it, streaming on the platforms where conversations are happening….This is just the beginning so stay tuned.”

Reps for Lemon immediately get back to us. His attorney, Bryan Freedman, did not comment.

A CNN spokesperson said, “While we never comment on specifics of any employee contract, this story is incorrect.”


9 responses to “CNN Pays Don Lemon $24.5 Million to Settle Anchor’s Network Ouster | Exclusive”

  1. Poker Man Avatar
    Poker Man

    Wow. May as well kept him on.

  2. Patriot Avatar

    Don Lemon is a joke, a hack, and a racists. Who wants or cares to here his opinion?

    1. Wiseguyy007 Avatar

      No you mean MAGA Trump. You bet he sure needs that $24m because Magadonians won’t pony up Big Broke Daddy’s needed scratch $$. Lol 🤣

  3. Fade to black Avatar
    Fade to black

    It’s no wonder that News outlets are all in the tank. What a ridiculous payout that could have strengthened CNN instead. Lemon should never have been an Anchor. Instead, he has only been an activist reporter. If the story was about blacks or gays, he was all over it with extreme bias. Now that he got his non deserved payday, perhaps he can buy an island somewhere and just go away.


    LOL. Serves them well for agreeing to these ridiculous sky high contracts. Talking heads are overrated and over paid.

  5. JD Avatar

    Wait, I thought the Lemon types told us that X was full of hate.

  6. CNN should do better Avatar
    CNN should do better

    Lemon lacked any objectivity at all on CNN and should have never been in the position he was in for a general news reporting segment.  The management at CNN has been largely a failure compared to the past, and his tenure continues to be proof of that. Wish him well in the next of his endeavors but he is not a journalist – he is an opinion solicitor and he will play to his core, if there are any left.   Lemon is just another reason why CNN has fallen so far down the rabbit hole and a shadow of what it used to be, or what it could be.  The idea of objective news has been replaced with ‘shock and gafah’ for 15 zip codes in this country.  He’s no different than Hannity or Carlson really, and unfortunate stain on the network on NYE.  We all know it.  It’s not E – it’s supposed to be the premiere cable news network.  You have greatly lost site of that.  MSNBC sucks, Fox News sucks, and CNN lost their ground, I don’t trust them anymore.  

  7. chacha Avatar

    Ageism and Sexism DO pay!  They both paid off handsomely for Lemon!

  8. Barry McCaughener Avatar

    It was worth it to get rid of that vermin. Media con artist helped destroy a brand. And got paid. 

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