Barstool's Dave Portnoy launches $500K fund to aid small businesses hit by pandemic

The Barstool Sports founder has criticized government officials for imposing restrictions that made it difficult for businesses to operate during the pandemic.

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy said Thursday that his company has started a relief fund to aid small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Portnoy said the initiative, dubbed “The Barstool Fund,” will contribute $500,000 toward small businesses in need of a financial lifeline. Companies can apply for assistance with needs such as rent or tax payments by sharing their stories by email, so long as they have continued to pay their employees throughout the pandemic.

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“If you meet that and you’re a small business that’s been around for a little bit, or maybe not, but if it’s a gym, restaurant, bar and you’re not going to be able to survive the next couple of months, send us an email,” Portnoy said.

The Barstool Sports founder has criticized government officials for imposing restrictions that made it difficult for businesses to operate during the pandemic. Earlier this month, Portnoy took aim at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo following his decision to temporarily ban indoor dining at New York City restaurants, arguing in a viral video that “politicians are stealing the basic right to earn a living.”

Portnoy said Barstool will continue to financially support any company selected to receive assistance through the small business fund until their needs are met. He identified Borelli’s, a restaurant based on Long Island whose owner, Frank Borelli, has maintained payroll throughout the pandemic, as the “perfect example” of the type of small business that would qualify.

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While the initial fund will consist of $500,000, Portnoy said he would raise more money if necessary to honor the commitment. Once the allotment has been used, Barstool will promote crowdfunding campaigns for other small businesses in need.

“Once you are in our program, we will pay whatever you need, the necessities you need, the money you need to get through this thing and give you a fair chance to run your business,” Portnoy said. “These people aren’t going out of business because they’re not successful or not making money, it’s because they have no other choice. They’ve been dealt a hand that nobody could play.”

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Portnoy said “nobody seems to care in the government” and called on Congress to issue billions of dollars in additional relief to help struggling small businesses.

Known for his fiery persona on social media, Portnoy regularly clashes with critics who have accused him of using divisive or offensive language. Last January, casino giant Penn National Gaming acquired a 36% stake in Barstool in a deal that valued the sports media brand at $450 million.