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"You say one little thing and then it gets blown up. I guess I should be flattered that people care," Kimmel told Extra about his original comments about retirement

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February 23, 2017 02:32 PM

Jimmy Kimmel is clarifying recent comments that he made about retiring from his late-night hosting duties.

After Kimmel, 49, revealed to Variety that he is contemplating what the end of his late-night career on Jimmy Kimmel Live! may look like after his contract expires, he is setting the record straight.

“Well, it’s funny because now I’ve had to say, ‘No, I’m not retiring,’ ” the ABC host told Extra. “I don’t know, it’s something that got, you know how it is … you say one little thing and then it gets blown up. I guess I should be flattered that people care. Most of my staff cares. Well, yeah, I don’t know what America would do without me.”

Kimmel, who has been the star and face of Live! since 2003 — come fall 2019, his contract will expire — also assured viewers that they will see him for at least the next three years on the network. But what’s to come after that is still unknown.

“I’m under contract doing the show at least until 2020, unless something terrible happens, so I plan to be there, but who knows, in three years — three years is a long time,” Kimmel told Extra. “You know, it’s a lot of shows. Yes, I still enjoy doing the show, but that’s 600 shows from now, so we’ll see. Hopefully, I’ll still have a head of steam and I’ll want to keep doing it, but who knows? Maybe not.”

Speaking with Variety, Kimmel explained why he is contemplating retirement from the late-night gig: “My wife’s pregnant. At a certain point, I’d like to have a little more free time. I have very little free time as it is.”

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Kimmel added: “I think this job is a grind, and best-cast scenario, a marathon. … I want to go out on my own terms. If I ever feel like we’re repeating ourselves, I think it’s a good indication that it’s time.”

This Sunday, audiences will watch Kimmel take the stage as host of the 89th Academy Awards. “You have to make the audience laugh,” Kimmel told PEOPLE about hosting the Oscars. “That’s the key.”

The 89th Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET preshow and 8:30 p.m. ceremony.

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