The online sports blog and news site Barstool Sports is launching a $500,000 fund to save small businesses crippled by heavy-handed lockdown restrictions that prevent them from making money.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy announced the creation of the fund on Thursday in a video posted to Twitter. Days earlier, Portnoy had slammed politicians for shutting down businesses across the country and not offering financial relief, denying Americans the “right to earn a living.”
“I’ve been ranting and raving lately about the plight of small business in the United States. New York City just shut down indoor dining. It’s like, how do you expect these people to survive? How are restaurants going to survive?” Portnoy said. “They’re already on their last legs and you’re pulling the plug on them, and nobody seems to care in the government.”
On Thursday afternoon, Portnoy announced the launch of “The Barstool Fund” to float small businesses through the pandemic.
“We’ve come up with a plan. Is it the best plan? No. The best plan is the government getting off their a** and issuing relief, billions of dollars to these small business owners who are losing their livelihoods,” Portnoy said. “That’s the solution. That’s the only solution really — but barring that, we’re going to do whatever we can.”
“The Barstool Fund, it is modeled around [my cameraman] Frankie Borrelli,” he continued. “Well, his dad owns Borrelli’s in Long Island, the perfect example of the type of business we are trying to save. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been, like, ‘Hey, Frankie, how’s your dad doing? How’s Borrelli’s doing?’ Every month it gets a little bleaker.”
Portnoy said he was inspired by Borrelli’s father, who is continuing to pay all his employees through the shutdown. The Barstool Sports founder said he crafted the first rule of receiving money from The Barstool Fund off of Borrelli’s “going-down-with-the-ship” attitude.
“The requirement is: your payroll has to be on; you’re employees have to still be getting paid. So, if you meet that, and you’re a small business that’s been around for a little bit, or maybe not, but [whether it’s a] gym, restaurant, bar, and you’re not going to be able to survive the next couple of months, send us an email [at] [email protected],” Portnoy said.
Portnoy said that once a business is approved to receive money from The Barstool Fund, he would make sure that that business receives monthly payments “till this thing’s over.”
“We don’t want to just, you know, what good does it do to help you for two months, then disappear, and you go out of business the next month? It doesn’t. I don’t care how I get the money. If I need to raise more money, if I have to pay it myself, whatever it is. I’ll get creative,” Portnoy said. “But once you are in our program, we will pay whatever you need, the necessities you need, the money you need to get through this thing and give you a fair chance to run your business.”
The Barstool founder added that in addition to the fund, he would by featuring small businesses on a fundraising platform for others to crowdfund for those businesses that The Barstool Fund cannot support on its own.
“We are going to try to save as many businesses, small businesses as we can. Keep the employees getting paid, keep the owners in business, till this thing is over, and hopefully, we can save as many small businesses as humanly possible,” Portnoy said.
Introducing The Barstool Fund
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) December 17, 2020
Borrelli, the owner of the first business to be approved for funds from The Barstool Fund, reacted to the news in a video posted by his son, Frankie.
“Wow. Wow, that’s amazing. Dave, I really want to thank you for starting this fund. You don’t know what it means to us,” Borrelli said, choking up. “It started in April. We had our doors closed. We made it through the summer. We built an outdoor patio. People coming in, we were breaking even during the summer. I got my staff. They’re all being paid, and I said we’ll make it through Christmas. January, February, [and] March I was planning on closing. I didn’t say anything to my staff. This is going to help so much. You don’t know. Thank you from [the] bottom of my heart. And my staff, they have mortgages, families. You don’t know how many people you’re helping. Thank you.”
— Frankie Borrelli (@FrankieBorrelli) December 17, 2020