Founder of the popular sports and media site, Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports, is using his platform and reach for more than just pizza reviews and sports bets lately. In December, he launched The Barstool Fund, a fundraising program for struggling small businesses. After numerous viral “corona rants” where he expressed his frustration and concern for the hundreds of thousands of small businesses in America on the brink of collapse and their millions of employees, an alarm bell House Republicans have been ringing for months, he was challenged to “put his money where his mouth is.”
After a $500,000 starting contribution of his own, the fund has already raised over $18 million in less than one month from almost 143,000 supporters. It has received support from people such as Kid Rock, restaurateur Guy Fieri, Tom Brady, Jon Taffer, musician and producer Kygo, and others.
In typical Portnoy jargon, the rules are pretty simple: to qualify, the small business has to have continued paying its employees throughout the pandemic, and proven to be a successful business in the past — in other words, it would still be thriving today if it were not for the arbitrary lockdowns.
The Barstool Fund’s Twitter account posts the application videos of each chosen business, followed up with a recorded FaceTime of Portnoy sharing the news that the Fund will help them for as long as they need. Each story and plea is as gutting as the next — small business owners young and old, of all different backgrounds, facing the same loss of their livelihoods and the business they often risked everything to create. We encourage you to hear a few of them here.
The Barstool Fund and its supporters are further proof of the indomitable American spirit still alive today, despite difficult times and destructive decisions made by some state and local politicians. In the absence of that leadership, Americans have often stepped up to support one another.