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

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

Lemon has agreed to a $24.5 million separation deal with CNN, individuals with knowledge of the deal exclusively told TheWrap. That price tag equates the full, complete pay from his final contract, which extended 3.5 years beyond his April 2023 ousting.Lemon first got in the crosshairs with CNN brass when they moved him off his popular “Don Lemon Tonight” primetime show to the revamped “CNN This Morning” in fall 2022.

But the real inciting incident came in February 2023 when he startled female cohosts Caitlin Collins and Poppy Harlow by saying Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, at age 51, was past her prime.

“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon said to a visibly bristling Collins and Harlow. “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”

Lemon soon apologized for the comments and resumed his “CNN This Morning” cohosting duties the next week after participating in “formal training.” But the network dismissed the journalist later that spring.

“After 17 years at CNN I would have thought someone in management would have the decency to tell me directly,” Lemon wrote on Twitter after former CEO Chris Licht made the news public.

CNN said that Lemon was given the opportunity to meet with management but released a statement on Twitter instead.

“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 earlier this year.

“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,” he said.

Now Lemon is preparing to launch a new show on Elon Musk’s social media platform X (formerly Twitter) in the next few weeks. The new program, “The Don Lemon Show,” will allow him to be “bigger, bolder, freer,” Lemon said in an Instagram post announcing the endeavor.

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

Lemon’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, declined comment. Additional reps for CNN and Lemon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request.

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