Last week, a major sports media shift occurred, with Penn Entertainment signing a deal to rebrand their Barstool Sportsbook app as ESPN Bet. Around that, Penn also transferred Barstool Sports back to founder Dave Portnoy in exchange for $1, non-compete agreements, and a 50 percent stake in further sales or monetization ventures from Barstool.
Even though that directly affects Kevin “KFC Barstool” Clancy, he’s not on the gambling side of things at Barstool, he and his co-host on KFC Radio, Jon Feitelberg are more involved in the comedy and entertainment side of things. Appearing on Awful Announcing’s podcast, Clancy revealed he found out Portnoy purchased back Barstool from Penn like the rest of us did.
“I was kind of finding out everything in real-time as well. I was not involved in any of the business dealings.” Clancy said. “I just kind of found out the whole thing all at once. It’s unbelievable. It’s an episode of Succession mixed with an episode of Entourage…It’s gonna make a great movie.”
While Portony was savvy enough to buy back Barstool from Penn for $1, Clancy doesn’t think that without CEO Erika Ayers Badan’s (nee Nardini) presence, the company would’ve been sold once or twice. And part of the reason why Bartsool is in the position of where it is today is because of Ayers Badan, who Clancy said he was “very indebted” to.
“Erika brought a lot of organization and teamwork to a very chaotic circus,” Clancy said when asked about the decision to hire Ayers Badan as CEO. “Dave is, obviously, as we’ve seen, turn into a great businessman and I think he always had it in him, but there was certainly a time where he was just more focused on being funny and doing dumb s*** out there…I don’t think there was ever gonna be a world where we the people, who are making it all, are in the boardrooms and on the conference calls and making the connections and all that.”
And while Ayers Badan has done that for Barysool, she recently argued that the company is “so antithetical to what a highly regulated industry wants,” which is why the relationship with Penn seemingly ran its course. Ayers Badan noted that Penn did embrace Barstool and didn’t ask them for changes, but they quickly racked up a lot of examples of issues caused by the connection.
Now, for better or worse, Barstool can get back to being Barstool without worrying about the next corporate shoe to drop. But at the same time, the line has shifted when discussing certain topics, and that’s something Clancy has learned over the past 14 years at the company
“Anything political became radioactive,” he said. Where in the past, I think I would’ve chimed in on candidates more, and even funny, non-political things that happen in the political realm are just not worth it. It’s not even necessarily which topic, it’s more so I’ve been doing it for so long. In the early years when I hadn’t necessarily gotten all my opinions, all my thoughts, and all my jokes off, if there was a new topic, video, person, I was like, ‘I want to speak my piece on that.’
“Now, I’ve been doing it for 15 years. I’ve been doing the podcast for 10. I’ve probably written tens of thousands of blogs. I’ve done thousands of episodes. I’ve done hundreds of videos. I’ve said my piece. People know how funny I am. How funny I’m not. How successful I am. How successful I’m not. I am where I am. So, when there’s something that can potentially harm the company, harm my family or harm someone else, it’s just not necessarily worth one more laugh or one more follower or one more retweet.”
Clancy said that it’s almost always an analysis of “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
“I’m still a slave to the joke and content,” he continued. “A lot of the times, I still will air on the side of ‘I’m gonna say it,’ but there are definitely times where it’s just like if that’s just a tweet that you’re throwing out there in the middle of the night, what’s the upside? You get a couple hundred retweets? And maybe a few new followers. What does that do for you? And the downside is not only bad for business, but also you’re gonna offend some people, you’re gonna hurt some feelings…I’m beyond that point in my career where I say, ‘F*** your feelings. I’m gonna say what I want whenever I want.”
That’s always kind of the balance that Clancy goes through in his head. At this point, he feels like his humor and his thoughts are not that crazy.
“I’m not perpetuating crazy conspiracy theories,” he said. “It’s not Alex Jones. It’s not InfoWars…We’re just regular guys talking about regular things. Of course, we’ll ruffle some feathers, but I don’t think there’s anything we do now that’s like ‘Watch out for that,’ you know?”
The full episode with Kevin “KFC Barstool” Clancy will be available Friday. You can find the Awful Announcing Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.