When Tim Tebow first met LeBron James, the former Heisman Trophy winner was a member of the Denver Broncos. James, then playing for the Miami Heat, was in town for a game against the Denver Nuggets. James’s road trips were how, Tebow says, the two initially got to know each other “a little bit.” Nearly a decade since their first encounter, they have each grown into distinguishable figures beyond sports—particularly in the television and media realm. James, still in the midst of his NBA career, has produced movies and series, and is set to star in Space Jam 2; Tebow has appeared as a college football analyst, made guest appearances on TV shows, and recently produced a movie called Run the Race. So when James tackled one of his latest off-court TV ventures, it was rather fitting he turned to Tebow.
In November, the 31-year-old Tebow was tabbed to host Million Dollar Mile, a 10-part physical competition series, which premieres Wednesday, March 27 on CBS. The show is executively-produced by James, Maverick Carter and Lee Metzger with SpringHill Entertaininment, as well as Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan with Fly on the Wall Entertainment. ESPN's Maria Taylor and Los Angeles Chargers' play-by-play announcer Matt "Money" Smith will serve as commentators.
Tebow’s connection to James, he says, is what helped him land the gig. “We did have some interaction [on-set],” Tebow says, “but it was so many people that came and put this together.”
The show’s premise: Contestants must complete a mile-long obstacle course through downtown Los Angeles for a chance at $1 million. In addition to obstructions along the course, competitors will be given a two-minute head start before an elite athlete—called a “defender"—pursues with the intent of stopping them.
Tebow was at his home in Jacksonville when he was first approached about hosting the show. He was instantly intrigued. He says he thought that the show’s makeup and his personal motives made him a well-suited choice. “So many things were up my alley as far as the competition and the inspiration and pushing yourself as far as you can go to be the best you can,” he says. “It was really fun. It was a great project.”
What makes the show unique, in Tebow’s opinion, is its cinematography, “epic” obstacle courses, and the fact contestants are being chased. A preview he recently shared provides a glimpse into the action, showing participants in neon-lit outfits, darting, climbing and jumping in the night.
Of course, Million Dollar Mile isn’t Tebow’s first time on TV. The former NFL signal-caller has served as a panelist on ESPN’s College Football Gameday since 2013 and has provided color commentary on several games. But Million Dollar Mile pits Tebow in a different setting overseeing an unfamiliar sport altogether. Nonetheless, he views it as competition and overcoming adversity, principles he thrives on. “I love that stuff,” he says. “That part was a really good fit.”
In the midst of the college football season, Tebow’s schedule was busy. It didn’t matter to him—he says he doesn’t like having much downtime. On filming days, Tebow woke up and watched film on the teams he was going to be on-call for. Then, he headed to the University of Southern California, where he would train for a few hours. Afterwards, he'd grab a snack, then head to site, where filming would take place “all night.” The cycle would repeat the following day.
“It was awesome,”Tebow says. “I love being able to just be busy doing things. I’m not someone who likes to sit around. I definitely enjoyed the grind of it.”
While he's still pursuing a career in MLB, Tebow is pretty comfortable with his role in front of the camera. He maintains his authentic personality and doesn’t try to model his style after other on-air talents; working in areas he’s passionate about helps, too. “When I do that, I don’t have to fake it,” he says. “I don’t have to be a broadcaster. I’m literally someone on there that’s a fan that loves what I’m doing and is truly trying to inspire the runners and encourage them and just to explain the show.”
Tebow’s only goal for his broadcast career is to continue doing projects he loves. He says he would love to continue working college football broadcasts in addition to hosting more seasons of Million Dollar Mile.
“It’s just not really work for me,” Tebow says, cheerfully. “I mean, I don’t want you to tell CBS that, but I love it. It’s fun.”