When the media gives coverage to Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, it’s generally unfavorable. Business Insider attempted to smear “El Presidente” over his sexual predilections, then he brought the receipts. The New York Times outed him as being who he says he is — a degenerate sports gambler — only to reap the same results. What gets much less coverage is Portnoy’s love for America, American workers and American businesses.
During the pandemic, when he used his stature to keep multiple small businesses afloat via the Barstool Fund, there were no glossy covers, despite the fund raising almost $42 million and supporting 443 businesses. In the mainstream press, only Fox News took note. When he recently placed a $10,000 bet on the US team against England in the World Cup last week, “BECAUSE I’M AN AMERICAN,” he stood alone among entrepreneurs, though to be fair most boards probably don’t want the CEO making public pronouncements about gambling. Barstool even offers a USA collection, including this incredibly stylish windbreaker, a look that more non-Mafioso Americans should once again embrace.
It’s not just casualwear though, for Portnoy is dialing it up a notch. On November 25, he announced the launch of Brick Watch Company, a watchmaker dedicated to making fine wristwear that rivals Rolex in quality, if not cost. In his story about why he started a watch company, which is more than a tad reminiscent of Lamborghini vs Ferrari, Portnoy made it a point to mention that the watches are “American manufactured, American engineered, American designed, built in America.”
If you’ve attempted to find American made products in recent years, whether a new record player or skateboard, you’ll recognize the difficulty in finding things made here. Even if you’re not me and instead focus on more normal purchases, you’ll know that “Made in America” still exists, but it’s far from the norm.
Portnoy isn’t stopping with American made, American engineered and American-made watches, though. With the company, he’s also started another foundation, the Brick Watch Foundation. The pandemic may be over, and with it the impetus for the Barstool Fund, but Portnoy is still dedicated to American workers and entrepreneurs. As Prez loves America, and the opportunities she has given him, the former small-business owner is donating 20 percent of all proceeds from Brick to supporting small businesses. On the company’s site, he wrote, “I truly believe entrepreneurs and small businesses are the lifeblood of this country. I know how hard being a small-business owner can be. There is nothing I’d love to do more than help others keep their dreams afloat.”
Not bad for a degenerate gambler who built an empire, especially as such sentiments are coming from the heart and not his comms team.
With the rise of stakeholder capitalism, Big Business — and their comms teams — loves to tout how it’s investing in America and Americans. And sure, certain big businesses do admirable work with veterans and small businesses. But at the same time, most proclaim themselves to be global companies. Sometimes, in moments of candor, CEOs might even go so far as to say things like, “Nike is a brand that is of China and is for China.” Given that Nike’s headquarters are in the People’s Republic of Portland, though, perhaps their CEO had a point.
Mostly, though, big businesses engage in convoluted schemes designed to look good on annual reports and that focus on certain marginalized groups, like female bullfighters in the jungles of Peru or nonbinary oil-spill cleaners in the Strait of Gibraltar, rather than just putting cash in the hands of potential American competitors. Their headquarters may be here, their leaders may be mostly from here, but their hearts are in Davos.
Not so with Portnoy. He may occasionally play footsie with being a global citizen, but he still believes in America, which is something we all should do. If only more CEOs followed his lead and learned to share but a bit of his passion for the greatest country in the history of the world, we might even learn to dominate soccer. As the next World Cup isn’t until 2026, we’ve got the time.