David Scott Portnoy was born on March 22, 1977. The 44-year-old’s name has become increasingly more recognizable over the last decade, which has been in direct correlation to the rising popularity of the digital media company he founded in 2003: Barstool Sports.
Dave Portnoy has long referred to himself as “El Presidente” of the Barstool Sports empire. But how much money is El Presidente making? Hint: It’s a whole lot more than the actual president makes. It turns out building a multi-million dollar company out of “sports” and “smut,” as Portnoy himself once put it, can be unbelievably lucrative.
Dave Portnoy’s Early Life
Dave Portnoy has been referred to as an “internet celebrity,” which is fairly accurate. Before he gained that prestige, however, he was just a young boy growing up in Swampscott, MA. Even in college, Portnoy didn’t seem to have any ambitions to one day become one of the internet’s most famous names. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1999 with a degree in education.
One of Dave Portnoy’s first jobs out of college was with Yankee Group, which was an independent technology research and consulting firm. Its headquarters were in Boston, MA, about a half-hour drive away from Portnoy’s hometown of Swampscott. It was there that Portnoy was immersed in a world of internet profitability.
Just four years into his time at Yankee Group, Dave was ready to launch a venture of his own. That venture would eventually grow into what we know today as Barstool Sports. But what was Portnoy’s original plan for his business?
The History of Barstool Sports
Barstool Sports is now known as a digital media company with a focus on sports and pop culture. However, in 2003, the company was nothing more than an idea in Portnoy’s head.
That year, Portnoy started the Barstool Sports blog as a print publication in Milton, MA. The writing would be distributed throughout the Boston metropolitan area. The publication featured fantasy sports projections, gambling advertisements, and slowly, other topics started being covered more and more.
Barstool did well enough in print that it was able to hold onto business until 2007 when it launched on the internet for the first time. This was the beginning of greatness for Portnoy and Barstool Sports. In April of 2014, the Barstool team scored another huge win when AOL decided to promote exclusive online content from the publication.
Just two years later, Barstool Sports had become a big enough name in pop culture that a major buyer wanted in on the company. That buyer was The Chernin Group, which manages and invests in businesses involved with media, entertainment, and technology. The Chernin Group (led by Peter Chernin) purchased 51% of Barstool Sports; a majority stake. Portnoy then announced that the company would be moving its headquarters to New York City.
Portnoy’s Position At Barstool
After the announcement that The Chernin Group would acquire a majority stake of Barstool Sports, many fans wondered if this was the end of Portnoy being the head of the brand. He had always been the face of the company, his personality aligning well with the “bro-culture” point of view that the website has always put forth.
Now, with a major investor claiming the majority stake in Barstool, fans wondered if the site would be watered down by the corporate elite.
Instead, Portnoy and The Chernin Group pulled an effective move that allowed for transparency between the fans and the heads of the site as they moved forward into this new era. Portnoy launched his podcast, The Dave Portnoy Show, and his first guest was The Chernin Group’s president of digital, Mike Kerns.
In the debut episode of The Dave Portnoy Show, Portnoy and Kerns discussed how the acquisition of Barstool Sports by The Chernin Group came to be. The launch of the podcast named after Portnoy himself was also a testament to the fact that his vision for the company isn’t going anywhere.
Portnoy now maintains control over the Barstool Sports website. He is also the Chief of Content, which reportedly means he makes all decisions when it comes to any creative moves the company makes.
Podcasts by Barstool
Podcasts have rapidly started taking over the country in the past few years, and Portnoy certainly noticed that trend when developing the content for Barstool. The site now features several popular podcasts that each cater to different niches of Barstool fans–AKA “Stoolies.”
These podcasts–which have garnered massive fan followings, and tons of press and money for Barstool–include:
Pardon My Take – “Big Cat & PFT Commenter deliver the loudest and most correct sports takes in the history of the spoken word. Daily topics, guests, and an inability to tell what the hosts might be doing will make this your new favorite sports talk show. This is a podcast that will without a doubt change your life for the better- guaranteed or your money back. *Pretend a reggaeton air horn is going off right now.*”
Call Her Daddy – “Call Her Daddy started as a podcast and evolved into a global movement. Alex Cooper bulldozed a lane of her own, spitting in the face of misogyny and putting a modern twist on feminism. The woman-led empire produces raw, relevant and provocative conversations.”
After significant controversy between the heads of Barstool and the creative team behind this podcast, the show Call Her Daddy will move exclusively to Spotify on July 21, 2021. However, Barstool’s initial investment in this show was what launched it to the level of success it has reached now. Call Her Daddy was the fifth-most popular podcast streamed on Spotify in 2020.
The Kirk Minihane Show – “The Kirk Minihane Show is a podcast from America’s most talented on-air personality, featuring Minihane’s raw, uncensored commentary on sports, politics, culture, and things that matter. There is no show like this show.”
Spittin’ Chiclets – “Former NHL vets Ryan Whitney, Paul Bissonnette, Barstool Sports writer Rear Admiral and Producer Mike Grinnell bring their outspoken and irreverent opinions to the masses. Focusing on the NHL but also touching on pop culture and everything else under the sun.”
Portnoy has a special knack for keeping up with the most controversial and pressing internet dramas himself. When the GameStop short squeeze went down, for example, Portnoy himself had enough clout to interview (or grill, depending on how you perceive the segment) Vlad Tenev, one of the young billionaires behind the investment app Robinhood.
The Net Worth of Dave Portnoy
Based on all that he’s done, it’s obvious that Dave Portnoy is making great money. Barstool Sports only gets more and more popular each day, and Dave Portnoy’s fame and wealth grow right along with the business he founded and still runs.
To put Barstool’s success in perspective, Forbes did a report in 2016 to measure the impact of the site. Forbes found that on average, more than eight million unique users were visiting the Barstool Sports website each month. And according to Alexa Internet, which is a web traffic analysis company based in San Francisco, Barstool Sports is ranked at #1,072 in web traffic for the United States. Globally, the site’s Alexa rank is #5,582.
Before we go into Dave Portnoy’s net worth, we should mention another huge investor that decided to purchase a massive stake in Barstool Sports: Penn National Gaming. PNG operates casinos and racetracks throughout the United States. After Portnoy announced The Chernin Group acquisition and moved the company headquarters to New York City, PNG also wanted a piece of the growing media empire.
PNG ended up buying a 36% stake in Barstool Sports for $135 million in cash from the Barstool founders. They also threw in $28 million in Penn non-voting convertible preferred stock. Both PNG and The Chernin Group now have 36% each in the company.
After these major business deals took place, Dave Portnoy’s net worth has grown to $120 million as of 2021.
Other Business Ventures
If the story of Dave Portnoy’s career trajectory tells us anything, it’s that this man won’t stop trying to grow his company until it’s the top internet site in the world. Portnoy and his fellow leaders of Barstool Sports have made business moves that are putting them in an even better financial position for the future.
For example, in late 2020, the Barstool Sportsbook app was launched. The purpose of the app is to facilitate sports betting. In just one week on the market, the Barstool Sportsbook facilitated at least $11 million in sports wagers.
The app is currently only available for legal use in Pennsylvania–the first state it was launched in–and as of January 2021, Michigan.
Barstool Sports also operated a channel on Sirius XM, which had about 34.9 million subscribers as of April 2021. The channel was called Barstool Radio 85. The radio show was successfully in operation from 2017-2021. In February of 2021, Barstool Sports moved its radio programming to Westwood One. Their new show is distributed through that network is a sports-betting show called Barstool Sports: Picks Central.
If that wasn’t enough, Barstool Sports also runs an amateur boxing league in West Virginia called Rough N’ Rowdy. The league puts on pay-per-view showcase fights that earn even more money for their parent company.
Whether you love or loathe the media that’s produced by the sometimes controversial Barstool Sports, Portnoy’s media empire is here to stay for a long time.