Samantha Sainte-Claire Ponder (née Steele) (born December 11, 1985) is an American sportscaster from Phoenix, Arizona who is currently a reporter/host for ESPN college football and basketball sideline reporter. Ponder is best known as the replacement for Erin Andrews on College GameDay Saturdays at 10 AM ET on ESPN, as well as co-host of the Saturday 9 AM ET edition on ESPNU. In addition to her duties on College Gameday, Ponder has been the regular sideline reporter for ESPN's Thursday Night College Football with Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack since August 2012, replacing Jenn Brown on the sidelines. Ponder also appears on the ESPN-owned Texas-oriented regional network Longhorn Network.
Samantha is the host for the 2016 season of BattleBots.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Ponder attended Central High School in Phoenix. Ponder first attended The King's College in New York City after high school. While in New York City, she applied for a hostess job at ESPN Zone where she met Ben Keeperman, a college football researcher and manager with ABC Sports Radio and that led to an internship at the network which in turn led to a researcher-assistant job with ABC-TV on the college football studio show. She transferred to Liberty University after Liberty's Sr. Sports Producer Bruce Carey offered her a job as sideline reporter for the Liberty Flames sports television network. After leaving Liberty in 2009, she worked for Fox Sports Net and Fox College Sports as a sideline reporter for Pac-10 and Big 12 college basketball and football games. On July 7, 2011, ESPN's Longhorn Network announced that it had hired Ponder as a sideline reporter. Ponder, along with Kevin Dunn and Lowell Galindo, were the newly created network's first three talent hires. After accepting her position with the Longhorn Network, Ponder relocated to Austin, Texas.
After a brief courtship, she married then Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Christian Ponder, on December 17, 2012, in Hudson, Wisconsin. She started appearing on ESPN/ABC broadcasts by her married name, starting with the January 1, 2013 broadcast of the CapitalOne Bowl. In 2014, the couple became parents of a daughter, Bowden Sainte-Claire, named after Bobby Bowden, Christian's coach at Florida State. However, Bowden goes by the nickname Scout, after the protagonist in Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," which is Samantha's favorite novel.