Dave Portnoy, the founder of media company Barstool Sports, decided to help small businesses across the country during the coronavirus pandemic. To do so, he started the Barstool Fund, which aims to support independent businesses through the entirety of the disease. Now, he’s raised nearly $30 million!
Barstool Fund, Born From A Dare
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year (luck you), you know that independent businesses have been incredibly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, the American government has seemed unable to keep up with the problems. So, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy decided to change that. On December 17, 2020, he launched the Barstool fund to simply give money to businesses that need it desperately.
Within days, many celebrities like Guy Fieri, Tom Brady, Dana White, Kid Rock, and Elon Musk started raising money for the Fund. Now, less than two months after the Fund began, Portnoy and his crew have raised just over $29.5 million, as of this writing.
Believe it or not, all this started as a dare! On Twitter, Portnoy posted an emotional video about businesses being shut down, saying someone should do something. Immediately, Marcus Lemonis, host of The Profit on CNBC, tweeted back, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Never one to be intimidated, the Barstool founder shot back: “I’ll put up 500k if you match it to create a relief fund for NYC area restaurants.” Just seven days later, the Barstool Fund was born! Now, over 150 businesses have been helped, with many more to come.
It Feels Good To Be Good
Once approved, a business joins the Barstool Fund and will receive monthly donations of an undisclosed amount to tide them over for as long as the pandemic continues. Portnoy said that any business approved by the Fund can request more cash whenever they need it, unlike the federal government’s coronavirus support program. Not only that, but the money arrives in their bank account within 72 hours! Meanwhile, the founder feels confident there will always be cash in the Fund. “If the fund runs low, I’ll go to big donors, or talk about it on social media and it will explode,” Portnoy said.
As of this writing, the incredible Fund has helped more than 150 businesses. Through it all, Portnoy says nothing has really changed for him. Well, one thing. “I’m glad we are able to do good. The only thing that has changed is that a lot more people are being nice to me,” he remarked. “That’s unusual and if someone is mean online, they get drowned out quickly. ‘Look what he’s doing, you a**hole.’ It feels good, obviously.”
As you might expect, the Barstool Fund grants have led to some remarkably touching encounters…
Portnoy says he’s also been crying a lot more recently. It’s not uncommon for the Barstool founder to call multiple businesses in one day, telling them they are in. “I did 10 to 15 calls yesterday,” he said. “They haven’t been published yet, but they are done.” Of all the videos, Theresa Pomerville’s might be the most touching. The 30-year-old, pregnant business owner thought her night club, Roomer’s, might go under due to coronavirus. Then the Barstool Fund came to the rescue.
“Working there as the manager,” Pomerville wrote in her application letter, “I already knew buying Roomers was a great opportunity and a no brainer, due to the fact it is one of two late-night bars in town. Roomers is home to debauchery (legal debauchery of course), all things ratchet, but also all things classy.” When Portnoy told her that she wouldn’t have to worry about paychecks anymore, Pomerville broke down in tears.
Despite the touching stories and worldwide applause, Portnoy says he’s no hero. “We are in a weird time and I need help to keep [independent businesses] going,” Portnoy said. “I can’t let it die on my watch.”
Would you like to help the Barstool Fund? You can head over to their website to donate to the cause, or even pick up some great merchandise (100% of the proceeds go to the Fund). If you, or someone you know would like to apply to the Barstool Fund, the information is on the official website.