Portnoy Claus? Barstool Founder Starts Fund to Help Small Businesses in PA and Beyond

Written By Katie Kohler on December 18, 2020 - Last Updated on October 17, 2022
Portnoy's Barstool Fund Bails Out Small Businesses

Barstool founder Dave Portnoy has backed up his rants about coronavirus-caused shutdowns with a rave-worthy action.

On Thursday, he announced that Barstool has started a relief fund to help small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic and are struggling to continue operating.

The Barstool Fund will contribute $500,000 toward businesses in need of aid.

Portnoy takes action, rips politicians

In his video explaining the fund, Portnoy said, “New York City just shut down indoor dining. How do you expect these people to survive?” He continued:

“No one seems to care in the government, or at least they are not doing anything acting like they care: no plan, no relief, no bailout. Marcus Lemonis challenged me and said, ‘Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?’ I’ve spent the last couple days doing exactly that. Is it the best plan? No. The best plan is the government getting off their ass and issuing billions of dollars of relief to these small business owners who are losing their livelihoods.”

Lemonis is CEO of Camping World and the star of CNBC’s reality television show The Profit. Here is Portnoy’s full video, which had 2.1 million views in less than 24 hours.

The Barstool Fund

Companies can apply for assistance with needs such as rent or tax payments by sharing their stories by email ([email protected]). However, they must have continued to pay their employees throughout the pandemic.

“Each month, we will continue to cut you a check for how much you need to stay in business till this thing’s over. I don’t care how I get the money — if I need to raise more money, if I need to pay it myself.”

The Barstool Fund was inspired by Frankie Borrelli, the cameraman for Portnoy’s “One Bite” pizza reviews. His father owns Borrelli’s Restaurant Cafe & Pizzeria, and it’s the type of business Portnoy hopes the Barstool Fund will help save.

Borrelli’s will be the first recipient.

Small businesses hit hard by COVID-19

In mid-September, Yelp released its Economic Impact Report. It painted a sad picture of business closures across the United States:

Figures from the report show:

  • As of Aug. 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed, a 23% increase since mid-July.
  • Permanent closures have reached 97,966, representing 60% of closed businesses that won’t be reopening.

COVID-19 has forced the closure (some temporarily) of 30% of small businesses in Pennsylvania, according to federal data. It ranks PA second after Michigan in terms of economic lockdown impacts.

In New Jersey, about a third of small businesses have closed.

Good-guy Portnoy

Barstool, a digital media company that expanded to sports betting, was called a “sport/smut” brand by Portnoy in 2011. A lightning rod for the comment section and controversy, Portnoy, aka “El Presidente,” has a sweet side.

Portnoy raised awareness and funds for the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, which lost many of its customers due to the coronavirus pandemic. For every $100 deposited by customers in the Barstool Sportsbook app, Penn National, which acquired Barstool, donated $100 to Reading Terminal Market until the market reached its $250K GoFundMe goal.

Portnoy also chipped in $50,000. Entrepreneur Jeff Bartos with the nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund added to the pot, promising that his organization would match Penn National’s donations of up to $100,000.

Some of Portnoy’s other good deeds in Pennsylvania are:

How to support the Barstool Fund

Portnoy posted an update a few hours after the video announcing the Barstool Fund and said they have received inquiries from donors and are also going to offer apparel from the businesses that Barstool aids.

Barstool in PA

The much-anticipated Barstool sportsbook app, through its partnership with Hollywood Casino, arrived in Pennsylvania in mid-September.

In November, its third full month, Barstool took $55.86 million in wagers, a small decrease from about $61 million in October.

Lead image via Dave Portnoy’s Twitter page

Katie Kohler Avatar
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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist and Managing Editor at PlayPennsylvania. Katie especially enjoys creating unique content and on-the-ground reporting in PA. She is focused on creating valuable, timely content about casinos and sports betting for readers. Katie has covered the legal Pennsylvania gambling industry for Catena Media since 2019.

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