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Celebrity Drive: Mike Greenberg, ESPN Host

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/6/2015 K.S. Wang
Celebrity Drive: Mike Greenberg, ESPN Host

Quick Stats: Mike Greenberg
Daily Driver: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 (Mike's rating: 11 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: Chicago to Bristol, Connecticut
Car he learned to drive in: early 1980s Toyota Corolla hatchback
First car bought: early 1990s Acura Integra

Mike "Greeny" Greenberg, half of ESPN Radio and ESPN's popular morning show "Mike and Mike," which he hosts with Mike Golic, is a self-described bells-and-whistles person. That's why he loves his 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550, which he gives an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.

"I don't know the horsepower of a car," he says. "I'm not at all interested in the car's performance. If it gets me from here to there, I'm absolutely fine with that. I like to be comfortable in my car."

Greenberg lives more than 50 miles from work, so he spends a lot of time in his car.

"I like the creature comforts, everything from the incredible comfort of the seats, the way my seat goes all the way flat so I can take naps when I need to," he says. "Love the entertainment package in the front that has the split screen. So my kids can be watching a movie on the big panel in the front and, at the same exact time, I'm looking at the same screen and I'm seeing a navigational map."

It did take a little while to get used to all the S550 has to offer. "There's no question it was a little overwhelming at first. There's a lot going on, but I'm now very comfortable in it and very, very happy with it." Greenberg also has a 2014 Range Rover, which is his wife's car. "As a family, we have two other cars, but this is my car. I'm in this car every day."

Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg

Car he learned to drive in

Greenberg grew up in Manhattan, where he learned to drive in his parent's yellow early 1980s Toyota Corolla hatchback when he was a senior in high school. But he -- like many New York City kids -- didn't get his license until after his first year in college.

"I was a freshman in college in Evanston, Illinois, without a driver's license, and that was not a great place to be," he says. "The very first thing I did when I came home for my first summer was get a driver's license."

He said on the first night he was at Northwestern, he thought he could just hail a cab like he did in Manhattan.

"I was meeting people for the first time, and we decided at about midnight that we were hungry. And I said, 'There's a Burger King on the other end of town. Let's go to Burger King.' Someone said, 'How are we going to get there?' I said, 'Well, we'll go hail a cab,' and I stood on Sheridan Road in Evanston, Illinois, at midnight, with my hand in the air. And I'm telling you that if I hadn't given up, I'd still be standing there waiting for a cab." Learning to drive in the city streets of Manhattan wasn't difficult since that was all Greenberg knew. "That's the way I had always envisioned driving, so I had really very little trouble with that, parallel parking, and all that stuff. If you can drive in New York City you can drive anywhere."

Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg

First car bought

After college, his parents gave him their Acura Integra for his move to Chicago, and he had that for a few years. "That car died, literally died," he remembers. "I was driving down the highway, and all of a sudden it started making a bunch of noises, steam, smoke started coming out of the engine. I pulled it over to the side of the highway, and I never drove it again."

He bought his Acura Integra, a new early 1990s model, with money he made from two jobs -- as a production assistant at WMAQ radio in Chicago and at Burhop's restaurant on LaSalle Street. "It doesn't exist anymore," he says, "but it was a lovely restaurant in Chicago in the early '90s, and I was a host. If you slipped me 20 bucks, you got a table. That's how I bought a car."

Greenberg loved his gray Acura Integra and drove it for quite a few years. "My parents always had Japanese cars when I was growing up," he says. "… I liked it. It was something kind of different, and it felt a little fancy without being really expensive."

Driving around Chicago was a much-easier task than in New York, Greenberg says. And it was necessary. "There are a lot of places, when I was living in Chicago, that you couldn't get to by public transportation."

He eventually sold the Acura in favor of a BMW 325i, which is a story he told in his book, "Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot."

"When I got married, my wife made more money than I did at the time," he says, "and people asked all the time, 'How did you handle the fact that your wife made more money than you did?' And I said, 'I bought a BMW!'" Greenberg says. That was also the car he drove when he first landed the ESPN gig.

Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg

Favorite road trip

When Greenberg got the job at ESPN and was 28 years old, his mom flew to Chicago to help him pack up his apartment. They planned to drive his Integra to his new job in Bristol, Connecticut, in one day.

"So when my mother is driving … I don't want to suggest that she's a nervous driver, but if we ever encountered a truck -- no one likes driving right near a big truck -- so what do you do? You speed up to get away from the truck."

Instead, Greenberg's mother would slow down when she saw a truck. "My mother slows down until the truck is so far away she no longer feels threatened by it. And when she did it for the fourth time, I said, 'Mom, pull over. Just pull over. We can't do this. We will never get out of this car.'"

That was also the only time mother and son did a road trip together. "I don't think either one of us was dying to do that again," he says.

Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg

ESPN's "Mike and Mike"

"Mike and Mike," which airs on ESPN Radio from 6 to 10 a.m. EST and simulcasts on ESPN2, celebrated its 15th anniversary recently at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Hosts Greenberg and Mike Golic spoke about their favorite moments, with performances from Cirque de Soleil. They also played a special edition of "Next Question." They held a 24-hour Twitter sweepstakes to win a trip selected by the hosts.

Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg© Provided by MotorTrend Celebrity Drive Mike Greenberg

"My Father's Wives"

While Greenberg's main gig is the ESPN radio job, he's an author as well, with a new book, "My Father's Wives," a work of fiction that came out in January.

The story involves a character whose father was married six times. "He never knew his father because he was married five times after he was married to Jonathan's mother. They never had any kind of relationship, and his father is dead," Greenberg says. The character then decides to travel around the world and meet his father's five other wives.

Although the character is similar to Greenberg, the father in the book is nothing like his. "My father was and is married to my mother, and they've been married 54 years. … No one could be further from my father than the father in 'My Father's Wives.' "

This is Greenberg's fourth book. "I'd like to be a writer longer than I'm going to be a broadcaster," he says. "That's my first interest and my first passion, and I'm very pleased to do it."

When he is working on a book, he goes to the library every day. There are too many distractions at home. "I go to the library where my kids go to school," he says. "I sit in there, and I write until the school bell rings."

He got the idea of the father in the book after having dinner in Los Angeles in a group with his brother-in-law. "He invited a friend of his whom I had never met. … We just got to chatting. His friend said to me, 'My dad was married six times.' And I said, 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah, for me Mother's Day was always the most expensive day of the year.'"

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