Dave Portnoy spooked Disney.
At least, that is the takeaway from a Wall Avenue Journal piece from two months back that specific how Disney made a decision to do a offer with PENN Entertainment to launch ESPN Guess. Disney was intrigued in a PENN partnership, but right before something could take place, PENN experienced to jettison Barstool.
In the report, this was explained as the “key requirement.”
And it does make sense, in particular taking into consideration Portnoy’s popularity as a polarizing and controversial determine — a track record that led to a New York Instances takedown last 12 months.
Portnoy is aware of how to make a model, how to preserve his identify in the information, how to come to be potentially the most essential individual in pizza, but … he’s definitely no saint. He is much from great, and by extension, these imperfections apply to Barstool Sports.
So it is no surprise Disney — household of Snow White, Queen Elsa, and Princess Leia — did not want its identify hooked up, even for a minute, to anything some perceive as very Jabba the Hutt-y.
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But if ESPN was so aghast at Portnoy, what about Pat McAfee? You know, the man ESPN not long ago signed to an $85 million greenback deal?
Enter the F-bomb
Whilst he isn’t as controversial as Portnoy, he’s also only been in the media activity for a number of several years, and his F-bomb-dropping, bombastic fashion is unquestionably a new look for ESPN.
Furthermore, McAfee has currently uncovered himself in some rough circumstances, notably a “joke” he made concerning Michigan State’s neon uniforms and Larry Nassar, the former gymnastics staff medical professional who sexually abused hundreds of pupils.
“I believe Nassar was in on the design and style team in fact,” McAfee tweeted in late July.
He’s also been paying Aaron Rodgers to appear on his display to talk about … vaccines and this sort of.
The bottom line is McAfee undoubtedly appears to have in his DNA the likely to produce havoc, backlash, and all way of hand-wringing.
Even though he ain’t Portnoy, they share a specified sort of electrical power.
The significant distinction — as it pertains to the cellular sportsbook scene — is alternatively noticeable: Portnoy was the facial area of Barstool Sportsbook, and I’m very confident the huge greater part of sports activities bettors very significantly assumed it was Portnoy’s sportsbook and that he wasn’t just an worker (at the time) of PENN.
But no one is going to confuse McAfee for the owner of ESPN Bet. In reality, if McAfee is to be believed, he’s likely to have minimal to do with ESPN Bet.
Talking on his display Aug. 10, two days after the ESPN and PENN deal was announced, McAfee — who bought his get started at Barstool just before leaping to FanDuel — explained his display will keep on being the exact same, and that he did not want to be part of giving out picks for ESPN Bet.
“I didn’t want to proceed down the route of supplying out bets that have been promoted and boosted and dropping persons funds. That weighed on me. I truly felt lousy,” he explained. “I would relatively continue to be away from that certain aspect. So when ESPN Bet comes in, I consider a ton of people are heading to go, ‘Oh, same detail that took place with FanDuel occurs with ESPN Wager.’ It’s like, I’m not signed up for that. I am not signed up for that. I’m a person who has a conscience. When we were offering out bets and dropping, Jesus Christ, individuals ended up prolonged evenings, tough mornings.”
But it appears considerably-fetched to believe McAfee will not be talking about ESPN Bet on his demonstrate. He’s now arguably ESPN’s major star, and for the largest star to sit on the sidelines of the sporting activities betting wars looks less than ideal.
Or perhaps not. Probably ESPN is likely to preserve a very little church and condition in between its superstars and its branded sportsbook app. There is no way to know until finally we see it for ourselves.
Massive good results
In the meantime, McAfee will keep on to do his matter, which is proving to be wildly thriving.
According to ESPN, his display was considered 242 million(!) instances throughout all channels amongst his ESPN debut on Sept. 7 and Sept. 29. That is about 241,999,742 additional instances than this column will be viewed, so, you know, grain of salt and all.
Individually, I have no issue with McAfee (nor with Portnoy) and I genuinely hope ESPN Bet does gangbusters. Soaring tide, all boats, etcetera.
But at the very same time, if McAfee suggests a little something about sports activities betting that catches the eye of the generally-observing regulators like Portnoy tended to, or if he claims something about just about anything that gets him in incredibly hot water (that is at -200 for calendar calendar year 2024), perfectly, I almost certainly will not be the last human being to draw a direct line between the two loud-mouthed and opinionated media stars and their connections to sportsbooks.