Don Lemon Gets Last Laugh: $24M

Don Lemon attends the 7th annual Blue Jacket Fashion Show, in support of prostate cancer awareness, at Moonlight Studios on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in New York. (Photo by CJ Rivera/Invision/AP)

Don Lemon, CNN’s fired anchor, has concluded terms to depart from the news network.

Exclusive sources relayed to TheWrap that Lemon, aged 57, has finalized a settlement with CNN. The figure hovers around a substantial $24.5 million, matching the total remaining compensation of his last contract, which was supposed to run for another 3.5 years beyond his exit.

Lemon’s transition from his successful prime-time slot to an early morning position, co-hosting with Caitlin Collins and Poppy Harlow, marked the onset of friction with CNN’s higher-ups. A particular incident turned heads when Lemon insinuated that Nikki Haley, the Republican presidential hopeful, at 51, was beyond her peak years.

Lemon’s controversy-stirring commentary included, “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” following up with a clarification about his discomfort with the topic of age, stating, “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s, and maybe her 40s.”

In the aftermath of his remarks, Lemon was released from his anchor duties, an action he labeled as a firing. Taking to social media, Lemon shared his perspective, noting, “It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.” Expressing his shock, Lemon conveyed disappointment over how the information was relayed, pointing fingers at the lack of direct communication from management, particularly under the watch of then-CNN head Chris Licht, who himself was dismissed months later.

In a discussion with Kara Swisher, Lemon reflected on the separation, “CNN, the strategy, their content, and the direction they wanted to go in, I was not a part of that.” He continued, “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.”