Dave Portnoy / Barstool Sports
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Barstool Sports is a cesspool of misogyny and bigotry

MLB’s potential partnership with the company would be a catastrophe

Barstool Sports founder and frequent Fox News guest Dave Portnoy said he was in talks with a “major sport” to air games, later confirmed to be Major League Baseball

The platform, described as a “satirical sports and men’s lifestyle blog” is, in reality, a cesspool of bigotry basking in the backlash against political correctness. Under the pretense of sharing funny videos and embracing a boys-will-be-boys mentality, Barstool has successfully normalized a culture of harassment, misogyny, and rampant misinformation, all while taking cavalier attitudes toward the chaos that ensues.

Major League Baseball has recently demonstrated support for Black Lives Matter and is already struggling with recent allegations of failing to protect women. Portnoy has consistently demonstrated that Barstool Sports exists to make a mockery of those concerns, encouraging casual misogyny, racism, and harassment.

  • Sexualizing minors and whitewashing nonconsensual explicit content

    • In 2011, according to Deadspin, Barstool Sports ran a story about the size of Tom Brady’s young son’s genitals with the headline “Check out the Howitzer on Brady’s kid.” 
    • After a clip of a 16-year-old cheerleader doing the “invisible box trick” went viral in 2017, Deadspin also reported on then-Editor-in-Chief Keith “KMarko” Markovich approved a blog originally titled “The most viral girl in the world is this hot Texas Cheerleader doing the invisible box trick.” The girl’s mother later confirmed that she had to defend her daughter from “obnoxious comments.”
    • Blogger Adam “Smitty” Smith complained that Portnoy posted a video to Twitter of Smith naked in the shower. Portnoy later tweeted that he deleted the video because Smith “cried like a baby about his dick being on the internet.”
    • On Barstool’s Sirius XM radio show Dialed-In with Dallas Braden, host Dallas Braden and co-hosts Patrick Connor and Brody Stevens sexualized then-17-year-old Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim. After a guest host noted the likeness of her name to Kim Kardashian’s, Braden joked about the very different “boards” that each woman were “riding” to achieve fame. Connor then referenced Matthew McConaughey’s Dazed and Confused character, saying, “Her 18th birthday is April 23, and the countdown is on baby, ‘cause I got my Wooderson going. ‘That’s what I like about them high-school girls.’” Connor continued, “She’s fine as hell! If she was 18, you wouldn’t be ashamed to say that she’s a little hot piece of ass.”
    • Blogger Jerry Thornton praised People magazine for featuring a woman convicted of having a sexual relationship with her 14-year-old student and inspiring his “Grading the Newest Sex Scandal Teacher” blogs, which rate women accused of molesting children. 
  • Perpetuating and encouraging sexism and misogyny

    • In a 2010 blog post, Portnoy said that some women “deserve” to be raped: “I never condone rape, but if you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped.” 
    • According to The Huffington Post, Portnoy wrote, “College is too short to waste your time being a killjoy. ... Loosen up and fuck a broad. You may enjoy it. That’s me being a role model.”
    • After Portnoy’s then-girlfriend allegedly cheated on him with a SoulCycle employee, Portnoy told his followers that he was bringing back “Grudge Dave,” which Mel Magazine described as “the alter ego he assumes when launching a coordinated cyber-bullying attack.” Mel Magazine then chronicled how Portnoy wore a SoulCycle shirt the next day and coined the phrase “CuckCycle” and encouraged his followers to “slut shame” his former partner. Followers even found the accused man in question and harassed him, forcing SoulCycle to disable comments on its social media pages. Portnoy then mocked SoulCycle for warning its employees about safety concerns from the harassment: “Don't have your instructors fuck the girlfriend of head of major media company.”
    • Comedian Miel Bredouw described the “full on harassment” she experienced after asking Barstool Sports to credit her for publishing her content. 
    • Portnoy called ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Sam Ponder a “Bible-thumping freak” and said that her only job was “to make men hard.” In a podcast, Dan “Big Cat” Katz complained that “every second that [Ponder] can tell you that she has a kid and that she’s a working mother, she will tell you that she has a kid and that she’s a working mother.” Portnoy responded by calling Ponder a “fucking slut” who should “sex it up and be slutty” instead of talking about her role as a mother. 
    • Ponder also alleged that Portnoy had said in a video that her child should have been aborted. Portnoy denied making that specific comment, but then called her a “vindictive asshole” and “dishonest scumbag” who can’t get over a grudge. In a video the next day, Portnoy congratulated himself for calling Ponder only an “asshole” and not a “vindictive bitch.” 
    • Portnoy compulsively continued his online harassment campaign against Ponder. As reported by Laura Wagner of Deadspin, Portnoy sent off a series of tweets shaming Ponder for lying and began selling shirts of Ponder’s likeness wearing a clown’s red nose. In a since-deleted tweet, Portnoy tweeted a video of Ponder and himself as characters in Game of Thrones, depicting, as Wagner described, “a female character [being] paraded naked through the streets so that she can be shamed and humiliated.” On his radio show, Portnoy said he was excited to “slowly suffocate” Ponder in an “internet online war.”
    • After Wagner broke the story of Barstool employees sexualizing then-17-year-old Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim, Portnoy complained in an impassioned blog that Wagner was “so vile and so vindictive” and had a type of “dedication, hatred and pure jealousy” that caused her to be “so obsessed with hating Barstool.” He then mockingly called Wagner a “cutie pie” and asked her to be his “valentine.”
    • Portnoy also repeatedly harassed Wagner on Twitter and encouraged his followers to do the same. He complained after Twitter temporarily suspended him for violating its rules on abusive behavior, and he joked in a blog that he wanted to force Wagner “at gunpoint” to watch a video of a scantily clad woman in a boxing ring. He mockingly reassured her that “when she gets fired [from Deadspin] I’ll hire her nasty little potty mouth in a heartbeat.”    
    • In a video with a departing intern, Katz admitted that full-time employees were engaged in a race to see who could “fuck one of them first." 
    • According to Deadspin, Barstool ran a since-deleted blog asking if freshman Ohio State women’s hockey goalie Maggie Cory was “the hottest college athlete in America.”
    • Portnoy bragged that he was “bringing back the word cunt” and shared a since-deleted blog about his efforts to bring back the popularity of the word. 
    • Portnoy taunted Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), saying that he imagines she would want to “coddle” one of his employees whom he had labeled a “pussy.”  
    • Deadspin also reported that Portnoy defended convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein: “This is my company, I gotta get fucking laid, and if she’s willing to make that trade ... it’s not publicly ... who do I owe?”
    • The Huffington Post reported that Barstool defended its aptly named “blackout parties,” hosted near college campuses, in a since-deleted blog, writing, “Just to make friends with the feminists I'd like to reiterate that we don't condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties in mid January. However if a chick passes out that's a grey area though.” Other since-deleted posts referred to female critics of the parties as “crazy bitches” and “ugly dykes,” according to Eater Boston.
    • Barstool Sports runs recurring features called “Guess that Ass,” “Guess that Rack,” and “Twerk Wednesday.” The site also posts a “Local Smokeshow of the Day.” 
    • Deadspin also noted when on Barstool Radio, Portnoy told a then-20-year-old employee that “she’s not going to be able to put her face in front of a camera in five years, because people will throw up.” Later when confronted about the comment, Portnoy refused to apologize. 
    • Portnoy mocked the appearance of the then-editorial director of Gizmodo (Deadspin’s parent company): “If I wanted to be mean I would have posted this picture and made crude comments about Susie’s physical appearance. I maybe would have said that the reason her avatar on Twitter is a cartoon drawing is because she is too embarrassed by her own face to use that.”
    • Portnoy also made fun of the appearance of the then-editor-in-chief of Deadspin: “She’s a jerk because that’s who she is as a person not because of her looks. Old Dave would have tee’d off on this low hanging fruit.”
    • Deadspin also noted when Barstool’s then-senior director of editorial strategy and growth, Chris “Spags” Spagnulo, wrote a blog criticizing Rihanna’s weight titled “Is Rihanna Going To Make Being Fat The Hot New Trend?” On the topic of women gaining weight, he wrote: “It’s a dangerous precedent and you may want to start adjusting your porn browsing to primarily BBW porn to condition yourself to this dystopian future we now face.” 
    • Barstool published a since-deleted blog titled “Slut Reporter Drinks Cam Newton’s Jizz,” according to ThinkProgress.
    • Portnoy hired an intern who described himself as “Cervix Killer.” After a woman employee posted photos of harassing messages from the intern and was forced to speak to him live on the radio, Portnoy only mockingly admitted fault because “when you hire somebody who calls themselves the Cervix Killer, who wears a Cervix Killer tshirt to the interview, you get Cervix killer stuff.” He clarified that “subtle sexual harassment is fine and dandy. Cervix killing in the DM’s though? Well that’s crossing the line.”
    • In a since-deleted blog post titled “Kobe Better Not Have Raped Alex Morgan,” Portnoy wrote, “Like it’s one thing to stick your dick in random chick’s assholes and [then] buy them off, but it’s a different game altogether when they are famous.”
    • According to The Daily Beast, blogger Francis Ellis published and then quickly deleted a post that slut-shamed a then-missing 23-year-old college woman. Ellis was later fired for the blog post. 
    • Blogger Patrick “Pat” McAuliffe mocked a woman who claimed that posting nude pictures on the subscription-based content site Only Fans helps her relationship with God: “Cheers to you, Nita. Thanks for doing God's work!”
    • Commenting on an Instagram picture of a woman in a bikini, Dave “WhiteSoxDave” Williams wrote in a blog, “Smash those puppies right in my face.”
    • After a video of a Dodgers ball girl tackling a trespassing fan on the field went viral, blogger Conner “Big Tennessee” Knapp described the woman as a “24-year-old ROCKET” and someone who “does not disappoint.” 
    • A blog advertising “Rough N’ Rowdy,” a series of amateur boxing fights put on by Barstool, featured a video that highlighted how entertaining it is to see the bikini-wearing “ring girls” struggle to walk on the mat in high heels. Portnoy is quoted as saying, “The ring girls are just as entertaining as the fight. It’s like, you look at this girl who just — her her ankle snapped trying to walk on the ring.”
    • Ryan “Chief” Brandell posted a blog lamenting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not been advertising that women experience swollen breasts as a possible side effect of the coronavirus vaccine: “Start telling people to read the results of the trials. Highlight the part of bigger titties in the glossary.” He then dedicated the rest of the post to women in lingerie or bikinis, promising, “Here is what the world will be looking at.”
    • Barstool hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets hosts Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney reportedly referred to women they had slept with as “kills.”
  • Perpetuating and encouraging racism

    • The now-discontinued sports website The Cauldron reported that after blogger Kevin “KFC” Clancy compared the Middle East-based news channel Al Jazeera to Al Qaeda, Clancy attacked women journalists who called him out for the racist comparison. Clancy then boasted about his success at demeaning the “feminist side of the whole debacle” and published the journalist’s Twitter bio including email address.
    • Deadspin identified since-deleted tweets in which Clancy wrote, “If I was Jewish I’d kill myself” and “Why I love Barstool: I point blank said I dont like Jews in my Xmas movie blog and the thing that has ppl angry is not liking Xmas Vacation.” Clancy has also joked that Jewish people were his “enemy.”
    • Also according to Deadspin, Emily Austen, Fox Sports Florida’s sideline reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays and Orlando Magic broadcasts, appeared on Barstool Sport’s The Rundown and made multiple racist comments. Among other statements, Austen called Kevin Love a “little bitch,” admitted that she “didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart,” and observed that the “Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class.” 
    • Former ESPNU college football host Elika Sadeghi rejected a job offer from Barstool after being told to sign a document accepting that she would willingly work in an environment where she might be exposed to “nudity, sexual scenarios, racial epithets, suggestive gestures, profanity and references to stereotypes.” Portnoy later said that Sadeghi “would have been a nightmare” to work with, called her “the biggest fraud,” and, according to The New York Times, said her name sounds “like the monkey from ‘The Lion King’.” A cartoon video released by Barstool later portrayed Sadeghi hanging upside down over a boiling cauldron.
    • Portnoy and his co-hosts defended former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski’s “womp-womp” response to a 10-year-old with Down syndrome being separated from her mother at the U.S. border as “laugh-out-loud funny.”
    • Talking about former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem, Portnoy declared, “So I’m going to say something that’s racist,” explaining he thought Kaepernick was “an ISIS guy. … Throw a head wrap on this guy, he’s a terrorist.” He continued, “He looks like a Bin Laden. That’s not racist.” (In a since-deleted post reposted by the Twitter account Resist Programming, Portnoy also posted a meme of a photo of Osama Bin Laden and Kaepernick side by side, captioning it, “Anybody who disagrees with me saying Kaepernick looks like he’s related to Bin Laden is a moron. #factsonly.”) Clancy responded that Kaepernick “is not really that Black,” so he doesn’t speak “for other Black people.” In the same segment, Portnoy later admitted that he didn’t know Kaepernick was Black, but he “hated him a lot more when I thought he was a terrorist.”
    • Barstool Sports shared a video to its main YouTube account of Portnoy singing along to the N-word in Ja Rule’s song “Livin’ It Up.” According to Resist Programming, Portnoy has used the N-word multiple times.
    • Resist Programming also posted a video of Barstool podcast host Kirk Minihane saying that anyone “with a fucking brain” would have had doubts about NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace claiming he found a noose in his garage. Producer S.E. Robinson complained that nonexistent “structural racism” is foundational to the “left-wing belief system.”
    • In the same thread, Resist Programming posted Twitter screenshots of a Black employee calling out Portnoy for using the N-word, Portnoy responded him, “If you truly think I’m racist you should quit” and said the “beauty of this country is that I was able to work my ass of for two decades and built this platform to give others like you an opportunity.” Referencing the same employee, Portnoy then lamented that he had to overlook “more talented” white candidates in pursuit of diversity.  
    • Deadspin also reported on how Portnoy fondly recalled when an employee dressed up as Kevin Garnett in blackface, and Clancy said that blackface is acceptable as long as you are with other Black friends. Dan “Big Cat” Katz responded, “You’ve gotta put them on a leash and have them next to you the whole time.”
    • Blogger Francis Ellis called a Twitter debate highlighting that Walmart was locking “ethnic” hair products behind glass but not “caucasian” hair products “hilarious” and included a tweet from a white supremacist account (now suspended) in a thread of tweets he used. After a Deadspin reporter asking for an email comment on the incident would not meet with Ellis in-person, he mocked the reporter for being homophobic. 
    • In another video posted by Resist Programming, after sexualizing a Black female co-worker, bloggers Katz, John “Feits” Feitelberg, and Keith “KMarko” Markovich discussed their desire to gain Black people’s praise by hypothetically ending slavery before it happened. Resist wrote that Markovich then changed his mind, saying he would “let [slavery] happen” but then “end it early,” so Black people would understand their debt of gratitude toward him. He then joked that he would also let part of the Holocaust continue so that Jewish people could keep “this like chip on our shoulder that makes us work harder to control everything in the world.”
  • Perpetuating and encouraging anti-LGBTQ attitudes

    • After seeing a photo of a transgender military member whom blogger John “Feits” Feitelberg described as a “Marine killing machine/white Kimbo Slice turned cute little blonde,” he stated that the lesson learned was “you don’t fuck with t––––––s.”
    • Blogger Kevin “KFC” Clancy lamented that there is “no way you can win a fight with a t––––y” because either way you will have beat up, or lost to, a woman. 
    • Portnoy clarified that he was “#nohomo” after marveling about the attractiveness of former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
    • In a blog, Portnoy asked: “Are You A Gayball If You Looked At Tiger's Dick Before Lindsey Vonn's Ass?”
    • Portnoy surmised that it was smart to release a sex tape between Kylie Jenner and rapper Tyga because there was nothing else to keep the family relevant after they “turn[ed] Bruce into a chick.”
    • Portnoy defended former professional baseball pitcher and far-right commentator Curt Schilling after he shared a transphobic meme.
    • New York Times Magazine reported that in an interview, after being informed of an art installation named “Fagbug” to raise awareness about anti-LGBTQ violence, Portnoy declared that he did not judge men for being gay, but then said that all the “fag talk” reminded him of Adam Lambert on American Idol.
    • Blogger Francis Ellis mockingly wrote multiple homophobic blogs about being attracted to his male co-workers.  
    • Ellis made fun of a gay man who asked him out, blogging that he rejected the man “because I’m not a total f*****.”
  • Spreading coronavirus misinformation

    • In the podcast Barstool Rundown, Portnoy said that he didn’t believe coronavirus is “a thing” and declared that “it’s like a common cold.”
    • On Sirius XM’s Barstool Radio, Portnoy admitted that he’s concerned about the coronavirus not because he “care[s] about the people dying,” but “because of what it’s doing to me personally on a financial level.” In the same episode, Portnoy reiterated that he thought Ebola was a “fraud” and boasted that he was willing to inject one of his employees with the virus to prove it was overhyped. Portnoy then claimed the U.S. death toll due to coronavirus was inaccurate because it consisted primarily of deaths from an early outbreak in a nursing home in Washington.
    • On Barstool Rundown, Portnoy questioned co-host Kevin “KFC” Clancy as to “why” he thought that 500 cases and 22 deaths from coronavirus were a big deal.  
    • After the NBA announced that it was suspending its basketball season amid the threat of coronavirus in March 2020, Portnoy posted an “emergency press conference” video to Twitter in which he self-identified as “a corona truther” and argued that the concern over the virus was either a “fraud, overreaction, or media concoction.” He then dismissed the severity of the disease and compared COVID-19 to the flu. 
    • In a Periscope stream, Portnoy called Dr. Anthony Fauci “one of the great criminals of our civilization.” He filmed himself in front of a sign that read “fuck that midget fuck Anthony Fauchi.”
    • In a July 2020 interview with then-President Donald Trump, Portnoy pushed Trump to criticize Fauci and supported the idea of the president overruling some of his health recommendations.
  • Encouraging violence and harassment

    • Barstool Sports has done multiple podcasts encouraging a return to professional football for Johnny Manziel, the former Cleveland Browns quarterback who was accused of hitting his ex-girlfriend so hard that her eardrum burst.
    • After an interview request for comment on a Daily Beast article about Barstool’s culture of harassment toward women, Portnoy doxxed the article’s author. 
    • Barstool Sports’ Twitch channel was shut down after employee Devlin D’Zmura threatened to “swat” another user.
    • Portnoy asked in a blog, “How the fuck is it possible that it’s illegal for the United States to use torture?” Portnoy also wrote a blog post titled “I Couldn't Be More Pro Torture If I Tried.”
    • Kevin “KFC” Clancy threatened writer Julie DiCaro: “If I was Julie DiCaro I’d be sleeping with one eye open. Id be watching my back. Because the universe is coming for that ass.” In the same post, Clancy also targeted journalist Jamie O’Grady.
    • According to The Daily Beast, Portnoy encouraged his followers to “ATTACK!!!!” a NASCAR beat reporter who had joked on Twitter about Barstool Sports. Barstool employee Matthew “Uncle Chaps” Cothron celebrated the effort in a blog titled “Dave Portnoy Has UNLEASHED The Vindog On Motorsport.com's Jim Utter: It's An Utter Bloodbath With Targeted Memes.” A woman who works at Business Insider who also tweeted about the incident additionally received an onslaught of hate. 
    • The Daily Beast also suggested that Portnoy hired retired high school plumbing teacher Vincent LeVine, who went viral for a short video about his obsession with Facebook, to harass and send memes to Portnoy’s targets. 
    • Deadspin reported how blogger Jerry Thornton called for then-49ers linebacker Reuben Foster’s ex-girlfriend Elissa Ennis to be criminally charged after she walked back claims of domestic abuse against Foster. After Foster was arrested again on domestic abuse charges, Thornton quietly deleted the piece. 
  • Promoting right-wing grievances and conspiracy theories

    • Portnoy threatened on Twitter to fire “on the spot” Barstool employees who support union-organizing activity. Portnoy was later forced by the National Labor Relations Board to delete the tweets. 
    • Barstool Sports published a blog that promoted QAnon, calling “Q" a “White House insider,” and misleadingly claimed “Q” predicted New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's arrest in advance.
    • Portnoy posted a mocking Twitter video captioned “Cancel culture is coming for my head” in which he bragged that such action only “makes us stronger” and dismissed previous agressions as “jokes that missed the mark.”

    Update (8/18/21): This piece has been updated to remove anti-LGBTQ slurs from the included quotes.