An investigation published today in Insider found that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, a middle-aged multimillionaire who has built his entire empire on being a public asshole, is also a private asshole — specifically to much younger women, some of whom claimed he subjected them to “frightening and humiliating experiences,” including nonconsensually choking and filming them during sex. Some of them were teens at the time. From Insider:
Insider spoke with more than two dozen people with direct experience with Portnoy and Barstool, including eight current or former employees. Some women, as young as 19 who had no professional connection to Portnoy, recounted having sexually explicit online exchanges with him. Three of these women said they had sex with Portnoy, now 44, and that the encounters turned into frightening and humiliating experiences that have taken a toll on their mental health. Two, including Madison, said Portnoy both choked and filmed them without advance permission; another, who has had depression, said she was suicidal after the two had sex. And all three were afraid to speak out, fearing retaliation from the media mogul and his rabid fan base.
The article details an encounter with a 20-year-old college student, who met Portnoy on Instagram after messaging him about his videos reviewing different slices of pizza. Portnoy sent her footage of his past hook-ups and asked about her sexual fantasies, then bought her “a first-class plane ticket to visit him at his $2.2 million Nantucket home.” Two days after they had sex, the woman texted her friend that the interaction “was so rough I felt like I was being raped.” The texts detailed how he allegedly videotaped her, spit in her mouth, and choked her so hard she couldn’t breathe. She wrote: “It hurt and I was literally screaming in pain.”
Another woman who spoke to Insider said she’d met Portnoy when she was 19, had a “really aggressive” sexual experience, and had to be hospitalized three days later for suicidal ideation. In a comment, Barstool’s attorney called the allegations “half-truths” and “highly misleading,” before requesting extra time to respond.
The lawyer never followed up with Insider, but shortly after the article went live, Portnoy addressed the piece in a two-part video on social media, going by his own admission against the advice of “lawyers” and “boards.” The reporter had reached out to “every single girl [he’s] been even remotely associated with” over the past eight months fishing for bad experiences, he said in the 12-minute response. “I’ve never done anything weird with a girl ever.”
He then addressed the specifics of the two main allegations described above. Regarding his sexual experience with the 20-year-old college student, he insisted “at no point was it not one hundred percent consensual…her version of events was not true,” while also offering that “if what she’s saying, that she didn’t enjoy the experience, is true, I had no idea, and that’s horrible, and I would never want to feel that way.” As for the second woman, who was 19 at the time of their encounter, he shared screenshots of private messages between the two of them allegedly showing that she asked to see him again after the first time they had sex and responding to his question “Miss my dick yet?” to the affirmative.
All of this was not compelling enough to exonerate him to many viewers, including Keith Olbermann, who weighed in for some reason. “Nobody believes you,” the newscaster tweeted. “Vanish.”