American Ninja Warrior Host, Former NFL Player Akbar Gbajabiamila Joins CBS’ The Talk as Co-Host

By A.J. Katz 

The Talk is going against the daytime grain and adding another man to the mix.

CBS announced today that NBC American Ninja Warrior host and former NFL player Akbar Gbajabiamila is joining CBS’ daytime panel program The Talk for season 12 as new co-host, joining Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots and Jerry O’Connell. Gbajabiamila replaces Elaine Welteroth, who left the program earlier this week after just one season.

Underwood this fall will be the only permanent The Talk co-host who also was on the show last September. Kloots and O’Connell replaced Sharon Osbourne after the Piers Morgan fiasco earlier this year.


Gbajabiamila appeared as a guest co-host on multiple episodes of The Talk in June and July, and isn’t exactly a stranger to the program.

“It’s a new day in daytime for season 12 of The Talk, and we are thrilled to welcome Akbar to the family. His engaging personality, openness and quick wit really impressed us when he appeared as a guest co-host last season,” The Talk ep and showrunner Heather Gray said in a statement.

“Also, his relatability as a husband and father creates a special connection with the viewers that is invaluable,” added ep and showrunner Kristin Matthews.

“It is an absolute honor to be joining The Talk as a host!” Gbajabiamila said in a statement. “I am so excited for this new generation of such a long-standing establishment. To be a part of this diverse group is truly a dream and a new statement for The Talk. In a world as divided as ours, I look forward to showing up as my fun and authentic self every day and advocating for conversation over confrontation.”

A Los Angeles native, Gbajabiamila grew up in the Crenshaw district with his parents, both of whom were born and raised in Nigeria, and six siblings. Gbajabiamila played football at San Diego State University and graduated with a degree in communications and new media studies. Later, he completed a certified entrepreneurship program at the Wharton School of Business in 2005.

Gbajabiamila became a published author in 2019 with his debut book, Everyone Can Be a Ninja: Find Your Inner Warrior and Achieve Your Dreams. He also executive produced the 2020 award winning film Sylvie’s Love. As a professional athlete, Gbajabiamila played five years in the NFL as a linebacker and defensive end, with the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins, before retiring in 2008.

While playing for the Chargers, Gbajabiamila contributed to KSWB, an NBC radio affiliate in San Diego, and co-hosted Football Night in San Diego from 2007-2008. He went on to serve as an analyst for the Mountain Network and CBS Sports before joining the NFL Network in 2012.

Season 12 of The Talk premieres Monday, Sept. 13.