Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy next to U.S. President Donald Trump during a White House visit in July.
The pandemic has devastated small businesses. Despite Congress passing a stimulus package providing funds for jobless benefits, vaccine distribution, stimulus checks and aid to businesses, the support could be too little, too late for many businesses.
What Happened: Disappointed in the government’s response, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, an American internet celebrity, investor and entrepreneur, raised over $16 million for small businesses affected by the pandemic measures.
The founder took to Twitter on December 31: “"BREAKING: Pete and Burson Snyder co-founders of 30 Day Fund have pledged to donate 1 million dollars to #barstoolfund if we can hit 14 million by midnight. We are at 12.7 million right now." Portnoy tweeted that on Thursday, adding that the Snyders' contribution would bring the fund's total donations to $15 million.
Shortly after, donations rose to nearly $17 million.
“This is what it is about,” he said in response to a video interaction with a business owner who received donations through The Barstool Fund. “I’m not crying. You’re crying. Please continue to donate so we can help more small businesses save their dream #barstoolfund.”
Portnoy recently spoke with Benzinga about his journey and overcoming the challenges to success.
Why It Matters: Portnoy’s initiative is helping entrepreneurs take matters into their own hands.
"How do you expect these people to survive?" he said in a video. "How are restaurants going to survive? They are already on their last legs."
Using 30 Day Fund’s open-source technology, The Barstool Fund is accepting contributions that go towards supporting small businesses like Michigan-based Premier Sports Center, an indoor sports facility.
“You got the facility there and it is crazy,” Portnoy said in a video interaction with the owner. “They want to whack you for taxes when you can’t even open the place.”
To keep the doors open, The Barstool Fund will help finance Premier Sports Center’s $62,000 tax bill. The facility has been out of commission since the pandemic started, and did not qualify for government assistance.
The video application sent to The Barstool Fund said the facility owner had a tough past few years.
“My dad has been fighting, he already had bladder cancer about seven years ago,” the facility owner’s son said. “This year was the big blow. In the last year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which if you don’t know about 95% of people that are diagnosed with it die of it.”
The son said the business, despite not operating or receiving assistance, kept workers on payroll through the crisis. Now, the tax bill was threatening to put sports clubs and coaches out of work, another blow to the community's morale.
“We’re really keeping all these different coaches, from dozens of soccer clubs — there’s a couple soccer clubs that have 30 teams within them — so all those coaches, all of them, they’re able to stay and have a job because the facility allows them to work.”
Given the irony — the facility having to pay taxes while under mandatory shutdown — Portnoy’s fund will foot the bill.
“Oh my god,” the facility owner said. “Thank you so much.”
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