These truths to be self-evident, that all men are created as a member of Congress, I get to have a lot of really interesting people in the experts on what they're talking about. This is the podcast for insights into the issues. China, bioterrorism, Medicare for all in depth discussions, breaking it down into simple terms. We we hope we hold these truths. We hold these truths with Dan Crenshaw. Welcome back, everybody.
Really honored to have today with us, Dave Portnoy, El Presidente, as you might know him, the president, founder of the Empire. That is barstool sports. You also might know him for that one bite pizza review that he does all the time and has gathered quite the cult following for that. He's interviewed President Trump at the White House. And more importantly, right now, he is stepping up and doing great things to help small businesses struggle through the pandemic.
And he started the BASTABLE fund recently, I think has already raised upwards of eight million dollars. Yeah, eight million. That's awesome. Dave, welcome. Thanks. Well, I appreciate what you're doing. And give us a quick background. How did how did the BASTABLE fund even even come to be?
Yeah, so I was ranting and raving about the lockdown's basically New York got rid of indoor dining. So I did an Instagram rant, basically say I don't know how you expect these small businesses to survive because you're not letting them earn a living. You can't have customers and they're also not getting any money to sustain them. So what do you think is going to happen? And then a guy, Marcus Lemonis, who I wasn't really familiar, reached out, is like, hey, big mouth, put your money where your mouth is.
If you start a fund, I'll match it. And at first I was fine with matching it. I'm going that was fine with putting money into the cause. But I was more like how we got gonna do it, because we're not a charity group. We don't want to be touching the money, create problems for ourselves. Then we sat down. We've been a lot of charity in the past that we knew would be a big undertaking. But we like to control where the money goes.
No red tape, no bureaucracy, none of that. Get the money in, get it out as fast as you can to the people who need it. And we came up with the barstool fund. So people send in the story, small businesses, the only requirements we really have. One, you have to be a successful business like proven track record. So the only thing that changed was the pandemic. Like you were successful before and assuming was over, you'll be successful again and you have to have your payroll on.
We wanted to help not only the owners, the business owners, but the people who work for them. So if you met those two criteria, we asked for you to send a story, a video email, and then we try to help.
Do they have to prove that they've lost a lot of revenue? Yes, pretty much so we have we have our finance team follows up with them, gets their taxes and their revenue and all that, it could be a rent relief. It could be anything. The other part we tell the companies we're not. Just giving them one check, it's like once you're in our program, you're in it for month to month three to the economy basically reopens because what's the point of giving people money if you disappear at month three and they're right back in the same hole, you kind of wasted it.
So, yes, we get all their finances, all their finance information, all that jazz.
How many how many small businesses have you been able to help so far? Think we're at thirty three. Are you hoping I mean, I don't know if this is even part of the plan, but I would hope that other people in your position able to, you know, to gather resources quickly are kind of mimicking this model because I mean, you can only you can only help so many with this one fund, but some other billionaire could easily do the same.
The more the merrier, the more the merrier. It's not as strange because. I don't know if it's totally true, but I do feel like there's a little bit of light we want to credit before we donate, I don't get that at all. The more the merrier and anybody who can donate, who can donate great ever can get the money out fast. Great.
There's a lot of you know, there's a lot of businesses. We've got ten thousand emails. And what is driving a lot of the donations, I think, is the viral nature of what we're doing. Like I FaceTime call these small business hours, they pick up and I tell them we're going to be there. And I mean, they break down and they tell their story. And it's heartbreaking. And I think the number one benefit, because we've only got thirty two companies so far, we're really for the first time putting a face on what is happening to what I think is like the backbone of America, like these small mom and pop these businesses, and they are in big trouble and rightfully so.
I mean, how else could someone expect them not to be?
What kind of business do you see getting hurt the most? Is that your restaurant or service industry? Yeah, it's hospitality.
We so we've helped bars, restaurants, dry cleaners is one that you may not think, but like no one's going to work, so no one's always get their clothes cleaned. A bowling alley is another that one that we helped. There's like a yoga studio that, like was talking to is a boutique like fitness. And our point's very valid. She's like, I have maps that I lay out on the ground. They don't move. I put on my computer, my car apart as you tell me to put them apart.
I do. And I can have people wear masks. I can't be open, but that same person will get on an airplane. Yeah. That make any sense?
That's the most infuriating part. You know, when you did some of your first emergency press conferences, I mean, you have a knack for just expressing your views in a way that people can understand, a way that really relates to just the common American. And I think this is what we were all feeling. Maybe not all of us. I mean, it's you know you know this it depends, right? I mean, you see people wearing masks by themselves in a park and which I think is ridiculous.
But I see it all in D.C. I see it all the time in Houston because I'm always between Houston and DC is a totally different world in Houston. So we do we do go about it differently. And it kind of begs the question, like, if D.C. wasn't locking these places down, which I think they just relax and or dining down, which is crazy, if they weren't doing that, would these businesses still be hurting anyway? Probably not as much, but probably, yes, to a certain extent.
And in a place like Houston, they probably wouldn't be hurting because, you know, I mean, I live there, I've watched it. I've watched this pandemic is gone in certain places in the country. And as soon as restaurants could have, people and people were willing to go and and be customers. So it's interesting. But but I mean, I've always I've been very outspoken against Lockdown's the entire time right there with you, probably more so than most politicians, because I guess some would argue it's a risky political move to take.
I don't think so. I think it's I think it should be riskier to actually lock businesses down.
And I think this part of the frustration that you expressed and what I expressed is I don't understand how these how these local mayors or governors are just not punished politically for what they're doing to small businesses.
I don't get it at all. Yeah. The wavy nature of it is what I don't get, like how Jacir I think a lot of small businesses were saying this as well, that it's the flip of a coin on the survival of your small business base, just where you are like the geography, and it can be as close as one hundred yards down the street if you're in a different county or whatever. So, you know, that is frustrating.
It's interesting and, you know. What drives me nuts about politics, and I don't like the extreme left. I don't like the extreme right, to be totally honest, and I think nobody gets things done. There's so much self-interest going on. And people assume generally, if you say you're Republican or Democrat, you can ask in the next 10 questions. I can probably answer how you're going to answer no you specifically. But I'm saying in general, you know, and it's like I people I see with me, they are like, you hate masks and you do this.
It's like I had a pro mask rant. Like I said in the beginning, one of the emergency press conference like, hey, mask can help point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero one percent to get rid of Caronna. I'm fine with fucking wearing mask. I don't care.
But I also think you're going to let people make their own decisions on whether they go to a restaurant and eat. And if you're health impaired or you're old, you have to stay home till you get the vaccine or whatever. I'm fine with that, but I don't know how you don't let. People decide their fate and whether they want to visit a restaurant and whether the restaurant owner wants to be open their claim, they're doing everything they can. And again, that's I don't know what it would mean.
These New York restaurants or whatever they spend all this money on, you know, new air conditioning system. So they have systems on the new Plexiglas and the new outdoor structure when they're already hurting and they're told you can't even use them.
I mean, it's crazy in the explanations from the politicians doing it in my mind, or even crazier, just because there are no explanations. Right. It's like, well, we just want to keep you safe, right? Yeah. I mean, I get that right.
But that's not necessarily your job. I mean, it's you know, the government's job on a fundamental level is just to protect your inalienable rights, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. This is written into our our our founding documents. It guides everything we do. Now, you could extend that to the government's job is also to prevent others from infringing on your rights deliberately. This is why murder is illegal. So this is why it's illegal for me to steal from you and government would be the arbiter of that of that illegal transaction.
And so they but I think they take it way, too. I think they take that defining principle way too far in this case and basically protect you from all externalities, protect you from all risk. But this is nonsense. I mean, we don't do that on a daily basis. And if we do, we at least legislate it. Right? We at least vote on it. We vote and, you know, we elect people and they have to debate these things and it goes slowly through a process.
But instead, what we've done is said our job is to keep you safe from literally everything online. And it's it's just it goes against the science. It goes against the data. It goes against what we know about where spreads actually happen. I think you pointed out once rightfully that like, you know, the common sense observation here is that if you're not allowed to go into restaurants, you're just going to go to house parties.
Right. And hang out with people. And that's where all the spread happens.
Yeah, I'm in Miami now and they have a curfew here and it's not enforced evenly. But I can tell you there is plenty of underground parties and oh, I mean, they're just moving it to other places like teenagers, colleges, all that they're going to go out. So we are the business owners are probably people safer anyways.
It's nuts. You know what it's like to run a business. I mean, is that part of the problem to do these of these politicians has never run a business or. I mean, what? I can't get into the psychology of it.
Yes, I think there is a large factor of lifetime politicians. And I don't know. I don't want to say this at all. I mean, you obviously have a different background. A lot of politicians are like. Losers in high school and is a terrible thing to say, but they're not like normal functioning. If you never had a real job, you ever earn a living and you don't have to like. I think that plays like I was reading up on, you know, de Blasio, it's like the guy has never had he was like running for high school math club like chair.
And he's just a lifetime politician who hasn't. I actually had to work his ass off in what it's like, I mean, for Basel 10 years, I never took a day off, literally not one like I worked every week. You can see pictures of me when I'm all I'm fat and gross. And it's like, why you look like that? Because I never left my computer. I know I eat like trash. And in you know, I start with literally nothing, but I want to work for myself.
And that's how that rant started, because it's like, you know what? At the end of ten years on, Basel started to take a turn and was like, OK, I may be able to do this epidemic and I would have been out of business in 10 years of my blood, sweat, everything wiped out. And I didn't have a family. I was just doing it for myself. But you multiply that these people are now providing for the kids, their families to not have a say it.
I would rather fight and take the risk. And if, you know, you die, you die. But it's like this is this is my life. I decide this is what I wanna do. I can't work for somebody else. I have to do it. And this was that's the thing. I don't get how a politician who's never done that or work like that and then just say we're taking that decision away from you. I do not get that.
I do think it is. I don't think anyone who had my background or a lot of small business owners would then say, yup, we can lock you down. I don't believe that. Right.
It's a sense of utopianism. And when you go to the extreme left, in my opinion, you know, you look at who advocates for socialist policies, you generally find people that have always been in government, that have always that have never created much and frankly resent those who do and believe that if you have created something, you've done it in nefarious ways, it's still begun. Well, yeah, yes.
Yes, they believe that. I hear that all the time, like in people. I also find the people criticize me, don't know much about me or don't know much about Bastable, but is somehow like I've exploited by workers on our workers at great jobs. And, you know, clearly by what we're doing now, you say a response. Nobody cares about small business more. I'm sure people are equal, but nobody more than we do. And that goes for me all the way down.
Erica Rossio, CEO. But. You know, it is ironic that where the private sector is the one that is now stepping up to the private, I paid so much taxes. Where's it going? Is it something you should be going to give it to these people? That's what we want to help. That's what we want to do. That's a little weird. It's frustrating.
I don't want to get too much into the politics of that. Luckily, this recent bill just got signed yesterday. So that's that's the only good news I got for you. You know, after months and months and months, I think the frustrating thing for people is that we don't just pass what we already agree on. There's a lot we disagree on up here. And it's supposed to be that way. We're supposed to disagree. It's the nature of politics.
But my question has always been all right. But we can identify things we do agree on. Let's just vote on that. Let's just vote on it. Right. And we can agree on PTP funding. Right. Which is basically the exact same program that you're doing at BASTABLE Fund is the PBB program. It's a good program. It works, right. It keeps people employed, you know, has some standards in place. You know, the best welfare is a job.
That is a fact. Right? You need purpose in this life. You need to work.
It took way too long to get it. And I want to go down as to why I've done that in plenty of other episodes. You just said something, which is a lot of people don't know your background. A lot of people don't know barstool sports. All right. How did barstool sports start? And like, what is it become? I mean, it's an empire of sorts. Really? Yeah.
So it started. It was I always know I want to try my own thing. It started as a newspaper in Boston. It was like a little sports fantasy sports rag for pages. And I used to wake up at like 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and go to the subway station, hand them out. People are going to work. I go home. I'd write articles, I'd call for sales, I had all fake names for myself because I didn't want people to know it would be like Joe Smith at sales dot com.
If you want to advertise because they don't want people to know, it's just me. And then I'd go back to the subway stations at night and the newspaper out go back work and I deliver the paper myself. I did that and that was probably like two thousand and four. And it slowly grew word of mouth in Boston. We moved to digital in 2010 and that was a guy used to hand the newspaper out, was moving to New York. And he's like, hey, I love this thing.
If I build you a website, will you use it? Because I'm moving in New York and I still want to read it. This is like if you're going to do that for free. Yeah, I'll put it on there. That was the birth of the online version of BASTABLE, and then it became pretty obvious we could grow faster. I didn't have the the overhead in the newspapers and the delivery route and all that. And that is when we really started to grow.
And it kind of more from sports to more like men's interest lifestyle about anything. So barstool sports say means anything. A guy would talk about sitting at a bar watching a game. It has continued to evolve. And now as men and women, we have a huge female audience. Our CEO is a female. We have the number one female podcast in the country. So we have a big but it's all under the ethos of not taking life too seriously.
It's like having fun, making jokes. I consider us a comedy site now more than anything and have for a while and then it just continued to grow. Word of mouth added employees one by one. Like most of the early guys, like I'm here in Miami, my first employee has been with me like 17 years. He's with me. I think we've lost like two or three employees, probably at least in my world, the content side over the last two decades.
So it's been the same group. And, you know, it's been a surreal run for us. So we went from one person to about two hundred and fifty.
We relocated to Manhattan about five years ago to try to create the first reality blog. Thing out there, and it's just it's been a pretty, pretty remarkable story. I sometimes, like, can't believe we're here, but we are.
What's the reality blog you're talking about us barstool. OK, just as like a as a show almost yet. Right.
When our lives like I never anticipated, people know who I am or I'd be like a character. It was all organic. Yeah. But that resonated with people. Yeah.
It's kind of the new way of doing business and it's kind of fascinating and sort of how you have to do politics. And maybe in a sense, it's always how you've done politics. You get to market yourself, which feels weird to some people. So you're starting this and I was in Boston 2004. I went to I did my undergrad at Tufts 2003 to 2006. Would you say your passion is more sports or the lifestyle side, the social media side or the comedy side?
It's all it's all mixed into one. People always courteous. I mean, I watch, I get trashy, I watch The Bachelor. But then, I mean, I'm a diehard Patriot fan. I was Goodell threw me in prison twice. So, I mean, it's all over the map. It's a pretty wide, varied interests that I have.
I jumped on the Red Sox train because that was like there was a 2004 the World Series that they want. And that was intense. I mean, I was a college kid. You know, I'm not going to lie and say that I'm like super into sports, but I jumped on that train real quick. That was fun.
But that was I mean, that was the Red Sox were like before they won. The chase to win was a big part of Boston culture. It didn't matter. Like men, women, everybody was on the Red Sox. Yeah.
How is it now? I mean, are you still so you live in Manhattan. You're not like you're selling out the Red Sox. Are you going Yankees?
Oh, no, I hate the Yankees. I hate all New York sports teams. I'll only go to the games when the Boston teams are in town.
I made the mistake once of publicly saying something bad about the Yankees and pissing off my father in law. So I'm not going to do that again. I'm not going to say anything bad about any team sports.
It is when they screw up. The sports analogy is trying to act like they know what they're talking about.
I don't even try. I don't even try. I know what I know. Right. Like, I know I know Social Security policy really well.
You know, I look at it, it's like, oh, man, you should be like have to serve a week in prison. If you're a politician and you screw up a sports analogy, try to act like you know what you're talking about.
It's it's bad. I mean. I know. I mean, I know to jump better. I know. Cool stuff. Right. I don't have to, like, fake it. I know. I know what I like. Target terrorists in Afghanistan. That's what I know.
I don't I don't know, like, you know, you I just frankly, I just joke about my ignorance. I'm like, why do you see the Super Bowl last night, that hat trick?
And that's all politicians should do that. Like, you know, you don't just know what you know and don't pretend like you don't know what you don't know. Yeah.
Do you have any bad examples of that happening, like really egregious examples of about like what do you have a specific instance you're thinking of or just in general.
Yeah. Oh, you had a mayor, Mayor Menino in Boston who was like the all time, all time like worst that's doing names. I wasn't there recently. I did it. I think McCain did one pretty recently. Oh, he was wearing a. He was wearing a jacket that was not like a I forget what city he was in, but he said he was wearing like a professional sports jacket. It was just the wrong jacket.
He was not aware, wasn't it? I don't know what it would be wearing, like, you know, saying you're wearing a Red Sox jacket and you just wear it like, I don't know, a target jacket, like he just was.
It just not not the thing you think it is. Yeah.
Hey, what was what was it like? I only got like a few more minutes with the. I know unless you've extended your your schedule.
But what what was it like interviewing the president and had that even happen? So he reached out to me on vacation and it was, I think, a Wednesday afternoon. And I got a call like, hey, Trump wants to interview in the Rose Garden at the White House. I'm like, what are you talking about? Yeah. So I thought I was a joke. It got confirmed. And it was surreal because I've never interviewed I have one interview in my life president.
So it was and they didn't really let us bring out like I had a little crew, but they didn't let the crew near us during the interview. And he had like 50 people surrounding us. Yeah, it's a I've never done an interview and I didn't meet him before. He just walked in, sat down and I was like, go. So it was fairly intimidating, kind of.
And also, like, as I said to you in this, I really try to stay away from politics. Like I and people say this like, well, I'm doing this interview with you. I want to talk about the fun I got on Fox News a lot. They know what I'm going to talk to girls all the time. People don't listen to what's said in the interview. It's rarely about politics. It's about stuff, barstool and other things.
But you get associate people don't like to listen. A lot of people want to listen and they just assume, which I think is unfair. So the Trump I didn't want to be like totally roll over and softball, but I also don't want I'm not there. I'm not political reporter. So trying to, like, dance that line to make it kind of entertaining, which is what we do. Yeah. You know, it was a fine balance that because some people in our our company is a perfect example.
Barstool people call us liberal and then people will say we're the conservative. Like, we get both. And I like that they both. But we have people in our company who hated me for doing that. We people who love me for doing it. So that's why you can't win. And I know Michael Jordan got in trouble for saying it, but I run a business in blue states and red states both buy t shirts. He said they buy shoes.
That's kind of how I look at the world. Like I agree with some things that the left side and I agree with some things that the right say. I don't like when people put me in a box because I'm talking you or I talk to the president or I think it's sad, actually. I mean, it's sad that just by nature of going to sit down with the highest office in the world. That people will call you every name in the sun.
That's that's sad. Yeah, I know a little bit about that. I mean, it's kind of it's kind of part of this cancer culture. They want to put you in a box. And and the label itself is what is what diminishes your argument. Right. Because if I label you with something, then it means I don't have to listen to anything else you say that I might potentially disagree with. And it's really it's easy for me to live in this world because I'm not cancelable like the left can't cancel me mean they've already canceled me in a way.
I mean, I guess the right could, you know, and they try right. Without really stupid labels on each other in the right, like neocon rhino. It's just it's just a way of one-upmanship. It doesn't you know, it rarely means something. But guys like you and Joe Rogan is probably another good example is just like because he talks about stuff, it's OK. But it's like, well, you can't even talk about things anymore. And just a free flowing manner without somebody being like, I knew you were a traitor or I knew you were one of them.
And it's like what I mean, because I remember I remember you going off on your people unionizing one time. Right. So it's like, does that make you a right winger?
Like, I don't know what a perfect example. That was like a crazy joke. I was just there are our employees are great, but it's tough to say stuff. And it is. It is you can't talk about. I also think social media is just like this echo chamber of people screaming at each other. So a very small, you know, vocal. Minority can seem a lot bigger than they actually are than normal people are just going about their lives, sometimes you forget that they're out there.
I mean, I have to remind myself of that constantly. It's always helpful when I look back on the ground like events. And I can just I can kind of see people right in the eye.
And I'm like, OK, you're like, we're not we're not as angry as we seem online. But I mean, what's your take?
You know, one of my fears is that there's too much American fragility just in a general sense. And I think our response to covid has demonstrated that. Right. We've I think we've overreacted massively, as we've been talking about with these lockdowns. And that's and that massive overreaction is a reflection of, I think, a sense of fragility that our our ancestors would just laugh at. They could possibly they could not believe what we're offended at. They could not believe how fragile we are in the face of risk.
And I'm worried about it. I mean, I wrote a whole book about it. So this worries me a great deal. Yeah, I mean, a, that first certainly canceled culture and the offensive things, people get offended, I don't understand Lockdown's. I don't think it was a world thing is going across the world, it's just at some level, if you hit a point, it's like flat in the curve. You flattened the curve. Then what?
And, you know, like some businesses and people, you can survive a couple of months, three months, four months. But why is those dragging? I mean, what do you do? You can't do it forever. So but I agree it's become a software society, that's for sure. Yeah.
We could use a little bit more hardening. I guess we'll leave it there because you said you've got to go for 30. Yeah, I get the four thirty.
I mean, if you want to try to do a part two, I can figure out a different time. But I do have to take this call at four thirty.
Let's do it. Let's do part to ask me some questions next time. Dave, great to have you and appreciate what you're doing for small businesses.
Appreciate it. Thanks for having me. All right.