Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy is not one to shy away from the spotlight, but the attention he is getting for his personal life is clearly not the publicity he is after. It centers around his personal sex life, and while his alleged actions happened outside the workplace it is having an impact on the company that owns Barstool. Shares of Penn National Gaming tumbled 21% Thursday after the reports surfaced, wiping out $2.5 billion in market value.
Business Insider published a story Thursday that includes allegations from three women about what they say were sexual encounters that turned violent and nonconsensual. In the massive four thousand word story, the women said their encounters with Portnoy were “violent and humiliating” and two said that Portnoy, 44, choked and filmed them without their permission. One woman’s mother urged police on Cape Cod to investigate Portnoy but her daughter declined to press changes and the complaint apparently went nowhere.
Portnoy is strongly denying the allegations. “I’ve never done anything weird with a girl, ever. Never anything remotely nonconsensual,” he said in videos posted on Twitter. Portnoy said the story was a “hit piece” that was the latest attempt to silence him. “Cancel culture has been coming for me for a decade. This is just the next iteration,” he said. “The woke cancel culture wants to cancel me – I’m scared now.” Portnoy said he expects another accuser will come forward. “I guarantee this: they’ll never be able to prove anything. Nothing, because nothing’s ever happened. But I can’t stop a he said, she said,” Portnoy said.
But Business Insider is defending the story, saying it had been in the works since March when it began a profile piece on Portnoy but soon the story took a different turn as the allegations surfaced. “We stand by our reporting,” it told Fox News. The story also noted it spoke with eight current and former Barstool employees.
A Barstool Sports attorney told Business Insider the story contained “half-truths” and in a statement a company rep said whatever occurred happened outside of the workplace. “We are not in the business of managing our employees’ personal lives, but we have made sure to have specific processes in place that encourage our colleagues to confidentially share any concerns they might have about their work environment. This recent news does not involve any workplace behavior,” the rep said, adding, “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on the private lives of our employees, but we take this matter seriously and are monitoring it closely.”
Portnoy’s bad press was not the only thinking hanging on Penn National Gaming’s stock price. While its revenue grew 34% during the third quarter, it did not deliver as large a profit as had been expected by Wall Street. The company blamed a slowdown in its business during the second half of August and into September which CEO Jay Snowden said was due to Hurricane Ida, which "significantly" hurt results in the South, and the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Penn National’s stock price was trading higher on Friday, rising 10% at midday.