The aforementioned actors Crystal and Jeong are the only other celebrity guest hosts of SportsCenter in the show’s 34-year history. Crystal was the first in 2012 and Jeong guest hosted earlier this month on Nov. 1.
Johnson, who wrapped up his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title in 12 full seasons this past Sunday, has appeared on SportsCenter numerous times during his racing career both in-studio and via satellite, but always as a newsmaker. He also appeared in a humorous and memorable “This Is SportsCenter” commercial in which he used a pickaxe to remove speed bumps in the ESPN parking lot.
But this time the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet will perform all of the duties of a SportsCenter host, including presenting news and highlights and conducting interviews from around the world of sports. And just like SportsCenter veterans Scott and Berman, and every other anchor who has sat behind the desk, Johnson will spend the day Tuesday preparing for his guest hosting responsibilities.
“I don’t know if SportsCenter knows what they are getting themselves into,” Johnson joked. “It’s probably a good thing I’m there pretty much all day preparing. I’ve got some tough shoes to fill with Billy Crystal and Ken Jeong but I’ve met most of the anchors and I am really looking forward to becoming the first athlete to ever guest host SportsCenter.”
Since its debut on ESPN’s launch day of Sept. 7, 1979, SportsCenter has aired more episodes than any television show in U.S. history, reaching the 50,000-episode mark in 2012.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to change it up and give SportsCenter viewers a different take on the day’s news, have some fun and do some memorable television,” said Jack Obringer, SportsCenter senior coordinating producer. “And having a six-time champion like Jimmie Johnson on your set is pretty cool.”
Fans are encouraged to join in on the conversation using the hashtag #JimmieOnSC.
In addition to his SportsCenter guest-hosting duties, Johnson will also appear on Late Show with David Letterman tonight and LIVE with Kelly and Michael tomorrow morning to talk about winning his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) governs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information, visit www.nascar.com and follow NASCAR at www.facebook.com/NASCAR and Twitter: @NASCAR.
About NASCAR on ESPN:
ESPN produces comprehensive, multi-platform coverage featuring telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Additionally, ESPN is the television home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. ESPN’s NASCAR coverage extends to ESPN.com, SportsCenter, ESPN the Magazine, WatchESPN, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN on Xbox LIVE, ESPN Radio and ESPN International, among other ESPN platforms. ESPN aired 262 NASCAR Cup Series races over a 20-year period starting in 1981 and returned to NASCAR coverage in 2007. The network’s award-winning, live flag-to-flag coverage on ESPN has been honored with 19 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as many industry honors. It is widely credited for helping to popularize the sport nationwide.