With the government mired in recriminations and sending billions of dollars overseas, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy stepped in to do the work that the government appeared unwilling to do itself: He helped American small businesses.
Beginning with a $500,000 contribution from himself and then using his considerable social media presence to raise the rest, the Barstool Fund has raised nearly $33 million to disburse to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus lockdowns.
On Wednesday, Portnoy and CEO Erika Nardini joined the Megyn Kelly Show to discuss the businesses the fund has saved and just how bad politics “sucks.”
“At this point, we’re 200,000 individual donors, which is really remarkable and just kind of speaks to, despite small-businesses being so obviously a part of America, we put a face to it, and everybody wants to help,” Portnoy said. “I think one of the beauties of this, I’ve said it a bunch, there’s so much crap in the world right now, with politics and everything else. This is a universal, sounds sappy, but pure cause. We don’t care about Democrats, Republicans, black, white, blue, purple, we’re just trying to help small businesses, and there really should be nobody in the world who is against what we’re trying to do. It should be something everyone can rally behind.”
Nardini stressed that as far as much as they’ve done, there’s still frustration at not being able to help everyone.
“It’s heartbreaking because we can’t help as many companies as we want to,” Nardini said. “That’s the hardest part of this, which is there’s just so much need.”
Portnoy and Nardini both objected to the notion that any part of what they’re doing is a “PR play.”
“I think we are a very courageous company. I think it’s courageous right now to be authentic. I think it’s courageous to have a history. I think it’s courageous to actually say what you mean, publicly,” Nardini said. “Making jokes now is courageous. You talk to any entertainer, you talk to any comedian, you talk to any public persona — there is such pressure for conformity and such pressure for a unanimous opinion. Part of what has made Dave and I and Barstool so successful is that we have been so true to the spirit of the brand that he created in 2004. We have been absolutely fearless. We’ve been very blunt and authentic, and we’ve stayed committed to our fans.”
“I just think a lot that is written, it all comes from an agenda. People don’t take the time to do the research or the facts. So no, in general, I do not trust the media,” Portnoy added. “Everything with politics drives me kind of crazy. So I wouldn’t identify myself and haven’t for a long time as a Trump guy — neither negative or positive. I just think the extreme left and the extreme right and politics in general suck.”
Portnoy launched the fund in early December shortly after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo temporarily banned indoor dining at NYC restaurants, a move which Portnoy blasted as “Insanity.”
Businesses seeking relief can send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.