Type of site
|Owners||The Chernin Group|
Penn National Gaming
Barstool Sports is a digital media company that produces content focused on sports and pop-culture. Founded by David Portnoy in 2003 in Milton, Massachusetts, the company's two primary investors are The Chernin Group and Penn National Gaming. Barstool Sports is currently headquartered in New York City.
Barstool began in 2003 as a print publication which was distributed in the Boston metropolitan area and offered gambling advertisements and fantasy sports projections, but later expanded to encompass other topics. It launched on the internet in 2007. In April 2014, AOL announced that they would be airing exclusive online content from Barstool Sports.
On January 7, 2016, Portnoy announced in an "emergency press conference" in Times Square that The Chernin Group had purchased a majority stake (51%) of Barstool Sports and the site would be moving its headquarters to New York City.
Chernin Group president of digital Mike Kerns appeared on the inaugural episode of Portnoy's podcast, The Dave Portnoy Show, to discuss the acquisition. During the appearance, Kerns and Portnoy detailed the beginning of their talks, when Kerns was put into contact with Portnoy via mutual friend and former University of Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen. After an initial phone call, Kerns took a private plane from San Francisco to Boston in order to have dinner with Portnoy, discuss vision for Barstool and the future of the brand, and begin preliminary talks of an acquisition.
Following the acquisition by The Chernin Group in January 2016, Portnoy continues to run the site and retains complete creative control as the company's 'Chief of Content'. On July 19, 2016, Erika Nardini, former chief marketing officer of AOL, was announced as the CEO of Barstool Sports.
During the week of Super Bowl LI, Barstool broadcast a televised version of The Barstool Rundown live from Houston on Comedy Central. The show made headlines on February 2, 2017 after Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee announced during a segment of that night's episode that he was retiring from the NFL to become a contributor to the site. On June 19, 2017, the site announced that Michael Rapaport would be joining Barstool Sports and hosting a podcast.
On October 18, "Barstool Van Talk" debuted on ESPN2. The show starred Pardon My Take personalities PFT Commenter and Dan "Big Cat" Katz. It was cancelled after one episode, with ESPN Inc. president John Skipper citing concerns about distinguishing the content of Barstool from that of ESPN. The show's removal came after past statements from Barstool president Dave Portnoy resurfaced, one of which involved calling current ESPN employee Sam Ponder a 'slut'.
Following a round of fundraising reported in January, Barstool is said to have received a valuation of $100 million. According to CEO Erika Nardini, The Chernin Group has invested $25 million in the website. On February 18, Michael Rapaport was fired after making a derogatory comment towards the site's fan-base.
Penn National Gaming partnership
On January 29, 2020, it was announced that Penn National Gaming purchased a 36% stake in Barstool Sports for $163 million, giving the company a valuation of $450 million. In three years, Penn National, with a market value of roughly $3 billion, will increase its stake to around 50% for a payment of $62 million. At that time, Penn National and Barstool have options that would increase the casino company's stake to control or full ownership, based on fair market value at the time. Following the sale, The Chernin Group maintained a 36% stake in the company.
The company launched Barstool Sportsbook, a mobile application for sports betting, in Pennsylvania on September 18, 2020. During its first week of operation, it handled $11 million in wagers. Only those physically located in Pennsylvania may legally use the app, however, Penn National intends to expand its operations to other states. In January 2021, the company announced that the Sportsbook would be expanding to the state of Michigan. Barstool's parent company, Penn National Gaming announced that they would be matching all first time deposits by donating to the barstool fund, raising a total of $4,550,280 for Michigan small businesses.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related government restrictions, Barstool launched The Barstool Fund, a fundraising non-profit which provides financial support to small business owners across the United States. Over 200,000 people contributed to the fund and over 35 million dollars has been raised. Many celebrities such as Tom Brady, Guy Fieri, Kid Rock, Aaron Rodgers and Elon Musk have given to the fund, on top of an initial 500,000 dollar donation from Portnoy.
David Portnoy has described the site's topics as "sports/smut." The site contains a mixture of podcasts, blogs, and video series featuring company staff in what has been described as "a sort of online reality show: Every office argument and personal-life development was written up and fed to a growing legion of 'Stoolies'."
The company operated Barstool Radio 85, a channel on Sirius XM, from January 2017 until January 2021, when a new contract agreement could not be reached.  Barstool returned to radio in February 2021 with a daily sports betting-themed show called Barstool Sports: Picks Central, distributed by Westwood One.
Barstool also produces numerous podcasts, including programming from David Portnoy, Spittin' Chiclets, Pardon My Take, Call Her Daddy, The Kirk Minihane Show, as well as podcasts from Barstool bloggers and professional athletes and comedians such as Deion Sanders, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Whitney, Paul Bissonnette, Willie Colon, Dallas Braden, Jim Florentine, Jamie Dukes, Taylor Lewan, and Will Compton. Notable former employees or podcast hosts include Jenna Marbles, Pat McAfee, Paul Lo Duca, Michael Rapaport, Terry Rozier, Frank Kaminsky, AJ Hawk, Asa Akira, and Julie Stewart-Binks.
Rough N' Rowdy
The site also frequently raises funds supporting veterans' causes and animal welfare. Barstool donated $150,000 to the family of a Weymouth, Massachusetts police officer who was killed on duty in July 2018.
In October 2019, Barstool founder David Portnoy donated $20,000 to Penn State's annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which raises money for pediatric cancer research and treatment.
In January 2016, Forbes reported that Barstool Sports was averaging over 8 million unique visitors a month.[needs update] As of September 2020[update] it has a global Alexa rank of 5,582 and a US rank of 1,072.
Baby photo comments
In August 2011, the site received criticism over nude photos of American football quarterback Tom Brady's two-year-old son, which was accompanied by comments describing the size of the child's genitalia, which a former prosecutor suggested was sexualization of a minor. Portnoy argued that the comments were meant to be humorous in tone and were not intended to be seen as sexual.
The site has received repeated criticism over content posted on Barstool Sports that critics of the site allege normalizes rape culture. Comments that have sparked debate include a post on a 2010 blog where Portnoy said "[E]ven though I never condone rape if you're a size 6 and you're wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?" Other elements that have received criticism include comments such as "we don't condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties ... however if a chick passes out that's a gray area". Portnoy, in response, has stated that, "...It's not our intent, with jokes, to poke fun at rape victims," while pointing out the satirical nature of the site's content. A Northeastern University protest group called Knockout Barstool held a demonstration outside of a 2012 Blackout party at Boston's House of Blues. Portnoy has been openly dismissive of the protest group and has accused them of being serial protesters.
The Blackout Tour parties were criticized for promoting excessive drinking and allowing underage drinking, as well as for assaults that have happened at the proceedings. In February 2012, then–Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino expressed concern through a spokesperson over the parties' promotion of "excessive drinking to the point of blacking out" and that such promotion would not be a good message for the city. Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission agents and club security at a House of Blues event in Boston the following month confiscated 300 fake identifications and refused admission for around three-fourths of the event's 2000 ticket holders. Shortly thereafter Portnoy announced that the company would not be scheduling more of the events in Boston, stating that "it just doesn't seem like Boston is friendly to nightlife of our sort, at least".
In March 2019, Barstool was accused by comedian Miel Bredouw of having re-posted one of her videos to the site's Twitter account without attribution. After Bredouw eventually refused to rescind her complaint in exchange for $2,000, Barstool filed a counter-claim asking Twitter to reinstate the video, alleging that the take-down was an error. Following the dispute, data from Social Blade revealed that on March 6, 2019 Barstool deleted over 60,000 posts from its Twitter account and 1,000 posts from its Instagram account.
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