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Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy is doing what he feels is the government’s job in helping small businesses struggling to keep their doors open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the relief initiative, dubbed “The Barstool Fund,” on social media on Thursday, Portnoy explained that a $500,000 fund was being launched to help counter the crippling effects of business losses as government officials impose restrictions in the name of public safety.
The fiery blog founder, who has frequently called out politicians for their COVID-19 lockdowns, encouraged business owners who need a lifeline to apply for assistance and share their stories through email.
“I’ve been ranting and raving lately about the plight of small business in the United States,” Portnoy began in the video message posted Thursday, “Introducing The Barstool Fund.”
Introducing The Barstool Fund
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) December 17, 2020
“How are restaurants going to survive? They’re already on their last legs and you’re pulling the plug on them,” he said, citing the recent order temporarily halting indoor dining in New York City eateries.
“Nobody seems to care in the government. Or at least they’re not doing anything, acting like they care,” he continued, noting there is “no plan, no relief, no bail-out.”
He explained that he has spent the last few days thinking about how to put his money where his mouth is, coming up with the plan to donate half a million dollars to help the hurting businesses who qualify and have continued to pay their employees.
“Is it the best plan? No,” the 43-year-old noted.
“The best plan is the government getting off their ass and issuing relief – billions of dollars – to these small business owners who are losing their livelihoods and have no recourse, no way to save it through no fault of their own. Billions of dollars: that’s the solution,” he said.
“Barring that, we’re going to do what we can,” he continued, explaining that the plan is modeled after Borelli’s, a restaurant based on Long Island.
The owner, Frank Borelli, whose son is reportedly a Barstool producer, has continued to pay his employees throughout the pandemic.
“Mr. Borelli—credit to him—who would never want to take a handout in his life, is still paying his employees. He’s never shut off his payroll. So, it’s like, ‘I’m going down with the ship,'” Portnoy said in the video, announcing that the establishment will be the first restaurant to receive the special funding.
Portnoy explained that those businesses that qualify for assistance will be given monthly checks as long as they struggle through the pandemic.
“What good does it do to help you for two months, then disappear? You go out of business the next month,” he said.
Not everyone who applies will be awarded the financial help, he noted, but said that once the initial $500,000 runs out, crowdfunding efforts will help to raise more.
“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,” Portnoy said. “These people aren’t going out of business because they’re not successful or not making money, it’s because they have no other choice. They’ve been dealt a hand that nobody could play.”
Portnoy slammed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month in a fiery viral video saying that “politicians are stealing the basic right to earn a living.”
Politicians Are Stealing the Basic Right To Earn A Living pic.twitter.com/9Yx9Vf1iP1
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) December 11, 2020
Portnoy won plenty of praise on social media for his announcement of the fund.
“Great work!” entrepreneur and philanthropist Marcus Lemonis, who was credited with giving Portnoy the idea, tweeted.
“Thrilled that I helped inspire the creation of your fund. Until the government gets its act together, we’re here for restaurants and people facing food insecurity,” the star of CNBC’s “The Profit” added.
Thanks Marcus! This is awesome
— Matt Kirchner (@LIGBeyond) December 17, 2020
Gonna be tough for the haters to spin this one
— Sam’s Army Podcast (@samsarmy) December 17, 2020
Hats off to you, DP. Good idea. We’ve been contributing to GFM small business accounts throughout this pandemic. They need a lot of help.
— Matthew Loop (@matthewloop) December 17, 2020
This is the best about America – helping each other in need❤️🇺🇸
— MsDagny (@msdagny2012) December 18, 2020
This is awesome!
— Mike Ruben (@MichaelBRuben) December 17, 2020