Dave Portnoy Regains Full Control Of Barstool Sports Amid Blockbuster Deal Between ESPN and Penn Entertainment
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy bought back full control of his company, he announced in an “emergency press conference” on Tuesday.
“Penn Entertainment and Barstool Sports have gone our separate ways,” he said in a video posted on his website and social media. “As of this moment, while you are watching this video, I have purchased back Barstool Sports from Penn. So, that is right. For the first time in a decade, I own 100% of Barstool Sports. Not since the Chernin deal have I been in total control of everything.”
On Tuesday, ESPN announced it reached a deal with Penn to launch ESPN BET, “a branded sportsbook for fans in the United States.
Portnoy sold a majority stake in Barstool to the Chernin Group in 2016. The private equity firm ceded control after Penn Entertainment (then called Penn National Gambling) purchased a stake in the company. In February, Penn became Barstool’s lone shareholder.
Speaking about his company’s relationship with Penn, Portnoy said both sides did not anticipate the hurdles the Barstool brand would create when applying for gambling licenses.
“And we underestimated just how tough it is for myself and Barstool to operate in a regulated world where gambling regulators, the New York Times, Business Insider hit pieces fucking with the stock price,” he went on. “Every time we did something, it was one step forward, two steps back. We got denied licenses because of me. You name it. So, the regulated industry – probably not the best place for Barstool Sports and the type of content we make.”
Barstool has come under fire over the years in large part because of its occasionally controversial content.
“Penn was able to broker an unbelievable deal with ESPN,” Portnoy said. “We wish them nothing but the best in their endeavors. It’s truly a win-win.” He also pledged to never sell Barstool Sports again.
“And by the way, I am never going to sell Barstool Sports, ever,” Portnoy said. “I’ll hold it ’til I die.”
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