The influx of retail dollars into the market over the past few weeks, as millions of Americans looked to parlay their stimulus checks and ‘enhanced’ unemployment dollars, has pushed stocks back to record highs and even given some zombie companies a potential reprieve, a possible rescue during the depths of bankruptcy.
Nobody has epitozmized the public’s suddenly voracious curiosity about financial markets, evidenced by the spike in google searches for phrases like ‘day trading’ and ‘how to open a Robinhood account?’, more than Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, aka “El Presidente”, the founder of pugnacious sports and culture website Barstool Sports, which he helped build from an independent sports-gambling rag to a multimedia empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks to a recent investment from gambling company Penn National.
At the beginning of the year, Portnoy dumped $5 million of his ~$100 million fortune into his old e-trade account (after having purchased just one share of stock in his life, by his own admission) and has since broadcast his trials and tribulations – his epic wins and washouts – on his twitter feed, helping stoke the interest of his many followers. Some have suggested that Portnoy’s embrace of day trading is part of the reason why Robinhood added more than three million funded accounts in the first four months of 2020, with half of these new customers saying they were first-time investors.
We’ve been all over the story of Portnoy’s short but brilliant investing career (he’s even created his own firm under the aegis of “DDTG” or Davey Day Trader Global) for weeks now.
And on Friday, Bloomberg published its own feature about Portnoy, using much the same angle as our most recent post, with the exception of one critical difference: The Bloomberg piece, written by Sophie Alexander and Katherine Greifeld, two of the company’s more prolific financial writers, spent more time on past controversies involving Portnoy and Barstool, including an incident from 2017 that probably seems like ancient history to may fans of the site. What’s more, in a tweet published in response to the article, Portnoy accused the two reporters of acting like his “buddies” during the interview, and claims they never asked him about the misogyny claims. That jibes with the text of the article, which includes nothing from Portnoy rebutting the claims.
I loved how your reporters acted like my best friend during the interview and then just mixed in insult after insult without ever asking me about misogynistic claims against us. Total assholes. https://t.co/ZYDtYkj0X3
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) June 12, 2020
Firstly, during the opening paragraph of its profile, Bloomberg described Barstool as a “brash, misogynistic” media empire.
Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy had bought just one stock in his life before the quarantine hit. When the country shut down in March, canceling sports and sports betting, the founder of the brash, misogynistic media empire dusted off his old E*Trade account and started day trading.
This probably wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if Portnoy didn’t have a storied history of feuding with progressive “blue check” journalists on Twitter, typically with a small group of writers associated with the Daily Beast and the (now defunct) Deadspin and Gawker sites.
Of course, those companies have a much different target audience than the financial services professionals who pay BBG’s steep subscription fees.
And as Portnoy is quoted as saying in the piece, he believes there’s a moderate amount of overlap between the audiences of a site like BBG and Barstool.
In January, casino company Penn National Gaming announced it had bought a stake in Barstool for $163 million in cash and stock. Portnoy, who estimates his net worth at more than $100 million, said he’s put $5 million into his day-trading account so far.
“I’m a little surprised that it’s become pretty well known within the financial community,” he said. “That’s kind of our target audience regardless of what we’re covering and I think Barstool was popular in those circles to begin with.”
Portnoy, a Massachusetts native with a degree in education from the University of Michigan, founded Barstool in 2003 as a weekly newspaper about gambling with the tagline: “By the common man, for the common man.” It has since grown into a media empire synonymous with male frat culture.
It has also had its fair share of controversies.
Portnoy is careful about warning his audience not to take any of his financial or stock-trading advice, and has at times been down by millions of dollars on his portfolio. Still, with younger Americans still under-invested relative to historical levels, some have argued that Portnoy is helping to raise awareness and interest in financial literacy, something young people could definitely benefit from learning.
Davey Day Trader – June 12, 2020 https://t.co/xeB4GxpH0U
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) June 12, 2020
Preditcably, Portnoy spent his Friday morning broadcast rallying his troops to buy back, claiming CNBC and Bloomberg are “running scared”. As for the less-than-favorable coverage from Bloomberg, we’d suggest Portnoy consider investing in a dozen or so BBG terminal subs for DDTG (just be careful what you say in the trader chat, because BBG’s reporters might be reading that $h*t).