For better or worse, it seems impossible to imagine Barstool Sports without founder Dave Portnoy. However, now that the company is owned by Penn Entertainment, there’s a possibility that his time there is limited.
Portnoy appeared on The Kirk Minihane Show earlier this week to discuss the fallout from the firing of Ben Mintz and what it means for the company long-term. During the conversation, he admitted that his current contract is up in 20 months and he isn’t sure if he and Penn will come to an extension agreement.
After Minihane asked Portnoy his thoughts on Dan Katz, a.k.a. Barstool Big Cat, opening a Chicago Barstool office and bringing a sizable number of employees with him, the founder said the move is part of a company future he might not be part of.
“I think it’s great,” said Portnoy. “Who knows where I’ll be in four or five years. I think Dan, which I would say is very good for Barstool, is locked in clearly for a very long time. He’s creating this huge fantasy factory there. I think it’s great for Barstool.”
Minihane asks if he has a date in mind for when his time at Barstool will end.
“Well, no. My contract’s done in 20 months, so,” Portnoy said.
The host then followed up to ask if there are ongoing talks about his contract, to which Portnoy said, “There’s been some talk about it. Like you said, who knows what they’re thinking at this point.”
Minihane then asked Portnoy what he’d do if Penn decided to go in a different direction.
“I go back and forth on that,” he said. “Would I just do a podcast a week that’s totally unfiltered? Would I enjoy doing that? Maybe. Part of me thinks I’d just be like, alright I’m done.
“I go through different things. I know people think it’s crazy. The pizza stuff. I’d like to do long-form, I enjoy doing that … Like a Netflix, like a pizza show, where you’re doing like 15 minutes at a spot… I like doing it. It excites me. I think it’d be wildly successful…like a [Bourdain] of what I’m doing… Guy Fieri.”
Earlier this month, Barstool fired popular podcast host Ben Mintz after he said a racial slur while reading song lyrics on a livestream. Portnoy said that the decision came from Penn Entertainment, which completed its full purchase of Barstool in February, and that he strongly disagreed with the move. Penn’s stock tumbled the day following the news, which Portnoy credited to the Mintz situation.
As Penn worries about how the antics and controversies involving Barstool personalities could impact regulatory gambling licenses in the various states they do business in, it’s fair to wonder how much longer they want Portnoy to be the face of the brand, given the accusations and controversies that come with him.