Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy announced Wednesday that sports personality Ben Mintz, known on their platform as Mintzy, has been fired after saying a racial slur while reading song lyrics on a livestream this week.
Portnoy, who announced the news via social media, said that Penn Entertainment, which owns Barstool, made the decision. He added that he and Barstool CEO Erika Nardini disagreed with the decision.
“[Penn] is highly regulated by the government. They’re issued licenses for gambling that — just as easily as they’re issued — they can be pulled back,” Portnoy said on Wednesday.
While working for ESPN Baton Rouge, a viral video of Mintz cheering the “Hotty Toddy” after the Rebels’ overtime victory over Kentucky caught the attention of Barstool, who hired him soon after. Since then he’s become a mainstay of the company’s media presence, hosting Wake Up Mintzy and appearing on the gambling podcast Cracking Aces.
Mintz initially apologized for the incident, recorded here, on social media on Monday.
“This morning, I made an unforgivable mistake slipping on air while reading a song lyric,” Mintz tweeted after saying the offending slur on his Wake Up Mintzy show. “I meant no harm & have never felt worse about anything. I apologize for my actions. I am truly sorry & ashamed of myself.”
This morning, I made an unforgivable mistake slipping on air while reading a song lyric. I meant no harm & have never felt worse about anything.
I apologize for my actions. I am truly sorry & ashamed of myself.
— Mintzy (@BarstoolMintzy) May 1, 2023
On Tuesday, it was announced that the show would not have new episodes for the remainder of the week.
No Wake Up Mintzy the rest of the week.
— Wake Up Mintzy (@wake_up_mintzy) May 3, 2023
Wednesday, Portnoy announced that Mintz’s employment with Barstool had ended, though not because of him.
Emergency Press Conference – Ben Mintz Has Left the Building pic.twitter.com/31faJrI6Op
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) May 3, 2023
“I hate the decision. I disagree with the decision. I would not have made the decision. But I don’t deal with the things Penn deals with in terms of state regulators etc,” Portnoy told The New York Post. “Penn paid a lot of money for Barstool and they have to make the best decisions to protect their business. I trust and respect [Penn CEO] Jay [Snowden] that he makes what he thinks is the right move and that’s all you can ask for. Doesn’t mean I’ll always agree but again he deals with things I don’t have to think or deal with.”
Penn, which acquired 36 percent of Barstool in 2020 and purchased the remainder of the company this past February, was reportedly concerned about how Mintz’s comments could jeopardize regulatory gambling licenses in various states they do business in. Penn runs 43 casinos in 20 states under different brands such as Ameristar, Boomtown, and Hollywood Casino.
Penn has faced concern from regulators over the years due to their ownership of Barstool and many of the comments made by its employees. Allegations made against Portnoy have also drawn scrutiny from regulators. Penn has also been fined for comments made by Barstool personalities that fall outside of the scope of how gambling companies are allowed to communicate regarding gambling.
“Penn’s a multi-billion dollar company. Without their licenses, they are a zero-dollar company. Investors, families, employees, thousands of people — they believe it’s their job to protect all of this and the only answer is to fire Ben Mintz,” said Portnoy. “I still disagreed with it, and maybe I’m naive, but I’m like, ‘There is just no way anybody can look at the clip and think the punishment fits the crime.’ It makes my skin crawl thinking a guy would lose their job on an innocent mistake. Yes, horrible, but clearly no intent … It’s everything I’ve stood against for 20 years.”
Mintz, whose profile page on Barstool’s website had been removed, tweeted an update on Wednesday afternoon, saying “I am in good spirits. I am def an idiot but I am also a resilient one. Will have a long video tomorrow thanking everyone. Way way too grateful to be too down.”
I am in good spirits. I am def an idiot but I am also a resilient one. Will have a long video tomorrow thanking everyone. Way way too grateful to be too down.
— Mintzy (@BarstoolMintzy) May 3, 2023