Dave Portnoy being commonly referred to as “El Presidente” by Barstool fans and himself tells you almost everything you need to know about his demeanour. For the last five years, Portnoy has ruled over sports media with an ill-mannered fist. No matter what he claims, Portnoy has been on the wrong end of cancel culture a handful of times now. Investigated by the National Labor Relations Board in 2019, it is claimed that he threatened to fire his employees if they unionized. Charming. 

You cannot knock the hustle however, as his company is worth almost five hundred million dollars at the time of writing. It’s been a real rags to riches tale with Barstool sports. Birthed in the basement of a Boston apartment in 2003, originally selling gambling tips and fantasy sports tells, it has accumulated a large cult following and collectively almost thirteen million followers and subscribers across platforms. 

He is now putting some of his past wrongs right, from chastising to charitable. From warfare, to welfare. Sorry. Portnoy’s Barstool fund has amassed an impressive twenty-two million dollars for struggling independent businesses amid the pandemic. With ‘pillars’ of philanthropy such as Elon Musk, Tom Brady and Guy Fieri all being patrons to the cause. I never thought I would ever see those three mentioned in the same sentence. At the moment, the Barstool fund has helped over one hundred small businesses across America. 

Recently, Portnoy’s Twitter has been littered with recorded FaceTime calls with choked-up Americans that are receiving the Barstool grant. Portnoy has received some backlash on Twitter in regards to how publicly these donations are being given out, people preferring charity to be done without shouting about it. This however, is just not the Portnoy way and he has since argued that the virality of the donations has drummed up more patrons for the charity. I believe this to be the case, as the whole basis of the fund has revolved around grabbing celebrities and meaningful donators from the internet. 

Surprisingly, the Barstool fund has also been influencing the arts. Artist and High School teacher Rene Gagnon has been having a rough year financially, and recently started an auction for some of his paintings. Having exhibited his work locally and sporadically in some larger galleries, he was expecting bids around the four hundred dollars mark. That was all before Portnoy stumbled across Gagnon on Twitter. A mixed-media painting called “The Stocks Only Go Up” depicts a graffiti styled green ‘El Presidente’, and as if he was looking into a mirror Portnoy pledged to help his dormant career. After sharing, Gagnon saw bids of around seventeen thousand dollars flood in and subsequently he decided to donate all profits to the Barstool fund. The influence and responsibility to make and break careers that Portnoy wields is almost unheard of outside of mainstream media outlets such as ESPN. 

This is important to note as these aforementioned outlets are often regulated to a much fairer degree. This landscape seems like Portnoy’s Wild West, where anything goes. On this sliding scale, we can see both the positive and negative effects that this influence brings to polarizing figures such as Dave Portnoy. We hope to see more projects such as the Barstool fund from the platform that he has, and that he has left his controversial past behind him.