DEFENSE: “The Headlines Read Like I’m a Monster.” Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy Tells League of Justice His Side of the Story.
Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy spoke with LOJ Founder Amy Dash to give his side of the story in response to what he calls Business Insider’s “hit piece,” detailing his sexual experiences with two women.
Portnoy explained that the article was the result of “a very exhaustive, very deep search… into everybody I know,” by Business Insider reporter Julia Black.
Black has been accused by Portnoy of mining for a story and he said multiple people felt Black’s questioning was leading and she was only interested in hearing negative things about him.
“I start catching wind of this hit piece like eight months ago and I had everybody reach out to me,” Portnoy said, explaining he got a random text from the manager of The Chainsmokers, who he didn’t know, telling him that a reporter had asked if he knew any girls Dave Portnoy has ever hooked up with.
When Business Insider was ready to publish, Portnoy said he was given only 24 hours to respond to all of the allegations, many of which were anonymous.
Portnoy says he wanted to stop the article from coming out and had a team of lawyers working on it but was ultimately told he wouldn’t be able to stop it.
“They had already decided what they wanted,” Portnoy said. “It was the same story I had heard for eight months, ‘they are gonna paint you like a sexual deviant’, and that’s exactly what they did.”
The article mentions three sources, who allegedly had sex with Portnoy, but only goes into details regarding two women.
Portnoy said three sex tapes, leaked prior to the article being published, reportedly featuring consensual sexual activities, set the stage for backlash after the article came out. For at least one of those sex tapes, the woman involved publicly disclosed her consent.
“So it’s like you can always point like Dave’s rough,” said Portnoy explaining that the video that was leaked, featuring a woman wearing a collar and a leash, may lead people to already make assumptions about his sexual habits without him being able to defend it.
In the article, Business Insider tells the story of a girl who uses the alias Alison, and alleged that she had “aggressive” sex with Portnoy, involving him choking her, and then he kicked her out.
“He kept spitting in my mouth, which was really gross,” Alison told Insider. “I was kind of scared. I didn’t want to disappoint him.”
Alison allegedly declined to file a police report but her mother allegedly filed a police report against Portnoy after her daughter was allegedly hospitalized a few days later for mental health issues. Business Insider said the girl, who already suffered with depression was suicidal.
“I have literal proof that after she left I stayed in touch with her,” said Portnoy. “She was bragging about hooking up with me around town. She said she had fun. She sent me her cell phone number and said ‘stay in touch.’ That was the last I ever heard of her. So, that directly contradicts the story that was told.”
Regarding the allegations of spitting and choking, Portnoy says, “That just did not happen. That’s just a boldface lie. There’s nothing like that.”
Portnoy pointed out that Business Insider never included the police report filed by the girl’s mother in its article “because they knew it was ridiculous,” calling BI’s omission “intentional.”
“In the police report which reads like an onion article, it says I’d been seen at a local cookie shop with young girls. I don’t even know what that means. I know what cookie shop they are talking about. I get cookies, I don’t bring girls there. I don’t even know where that came from.”
The police report details the mother’s reported outrage over what she allegedly termed Portnoy’s “bad behavior.” She says her daughter who is 19-years-old went to Portnoy’s house but has no recollection of it. Portnoy claims he and the daughter spoke two days later on DM and provided us with a message he says evidences the discussion. The mother also told police that Portnoy has a habit of bringing 18-year-old girls back to his house, confirming their age and asking if they are willing to have sex.
“She says Dave always asks if girls are 18,” Portnoy said. “I don’t ask that. That’s a lie. But even if I did, it kinda proves my innocence, but I don’t ask that.”
“Im not looking for eighteen-year-olds,” Portnoy said. “That’s not how I work so that part’s made up…Her daughter aggressively pursued me, not vice versa, she found me, she reached out to me. She was the pursuer, not me.”
NBC News reported that the Police Commissioner of Nantucket said they had no record of anything mentioned in the article and there was no investigation into Portnoy.
Portnoy has been living on Nantucket for at least ten years and said there has never been a complaint made against him. He says the mother was just upset that her “daughter pursued an older man and enjoyed having sex with him.”
“I dont have parties, none of it. Everything in it was inaccurate,” Portnoy told Dash. “[Business Insider] intentionally did not include the [police] report in the article. It wasn’t in there because it directly flies in the face of one of their two key witnesses that they spent, I don’t know eight months digging through every aspect of my life, they found two people, one of them instantly is discredited within a second.”
The BI article also details a story from a twenty-year-old using the alias Madison, who alleged that during the sex encounter, she told Portnoy that the alleged rough sex was “too much” but he only “went harder.”
“It was so painful,” Madison told Insider. “I kept trying to get away and he was like, ‘Stop running away from me. Stop running away from me.’”
Madison allegedly sent a friend a text message following the encounter, saying Portnoy choked her so hard she couldn’t breathe and that the encounter felt like she was being raped.
“The horrific claims that she was running away and screaming stop , there’s no proof of that at all, that’s her recollection of it,” Portnoy said. “The one thing they do have is a text like two or three days after the fact of the girl talking to her friend being like it was super rough and he choked me and it felt like I was being raped.”
Portnoy vehemently denies the allegations of rough sex and says he and “Madison” had been talking for about a month and a half prior to meeting, including about her sexual fantasies, one of which was a rape fantasy. He flew her to visit him in Nantucket.
“We did hook up,” he told Dash. “It was so normal. If anybody watched it, you wouldn’t think anything, you’d be like ‘oh, Dave is boring at sex.’ That’s honestly how it was.”
Madison also accused Portnoy in the BI article of taping her while she performed oral sex on him without permission.
“I have her sending videos of herself giving head to guys to me before we were talking so unless this is what she does, she just lets people videotape her doing oral sex and then says it wasn’t consent? It was consent,” Portnoy said. “She 100 percent knew it was happening. She continued… I’ve never taped a girl without her consent in my life.”
Portnoy says after the sex, Madison slept on the couch and claims she wanted to hook up with him again but they didn’t agree on life topics and didn’t hook up again because they didn’t get along. Madison told Insider she stayed at Portnoy’s house and slept on his couch two more nights until her flight back and did not leave the home following the sexual encounter.
Portnoy says shortly after the visit, Madison went on social media and tweeted “Dave Portnoy= little bit**.”
“That to me doesn’t sound like something that would be tweeted after like an assault,” Portnoy said. “I never heard a word about it. We stopped talking because we didn’t like eachother.”
Portnoy plans to keep the girls names anonymous because he knows what the Barstool crowd, nicknamed the “stoolies” can do when someone is trying to “defame” him but says Madison, who chose to stay anonymous for the BI article, is publicizing on social media that she consented to sex with Portnoy.
“She has been on social media actively identifying herself as the girl in this story,” Portnoy said. “She has responded to comments saying ‘it was consensual, I never said he raped me,’ none of it. So there’s not even a charge that I’m being accused of but the headlines read like I’m a monster.”
Dash asked Portnoy what he’s actually being accused of, stating that it’s unclear in the article as none of the women make express accusations against Portnoy that he did anything unlawful.
“I’m being accused of rough sex,” Portnoy responded.
Dash pointed out that one of the women told Insider she was not accusing Portnoy of sexual assault. The one grey area in the article is where Madison describes trying to get away from Portnoy and saying it was “too much” but that he only went “harder.”
Portnoy calls it “totally made up.”
“If I am having sex with a girl and she says yes a thousand times and in the middle of it says no, and you continue, that’s rape. I consider that rape,” he said. “That is not what happened at all!”
Dash recalled that Business Insider said one of the women did not speak out to Portnoy when she was allegedly uncomfortable because she was “scared” and didn’t want to “disappoint him.” Dash pointed out that many on social media are calling attention to the age difference between Portnoy and the women and the fact that he is a celebrity and asked Portnoy, “What do you wish they had said to you if they were having a totally different experience than what you were having?”
“I’m not comfortable,” said Portnoy, who points to a DM where one of the women allegedly says she is nervous and he says “if you don’t wanna do anything, we won’t.”
Portnoy claims many women who he has been with are reaching out to him to go on the record in his defense.
“They are just painting me as somebody I am absolutely not. Luckily for the first one I have proof because again, if everything she is saying is true why in the world would she continue to be pursuing me? Giving your cell phone number?”
Dash made clear she was reserving judgment but wanted to know what Portnoy thinks about people online who say there is a power imbalance because of Portnoy’s fame and age and accuse him of using his celebrity to take advantage of young women who may not know what they are getting themselves into and feel used.
“Do you feel there is any validity to what people are saying, just from a moral standpoint?” Dash asked.
“That wasn’t the case with these girls,” Portnoy said. “This is revisionist history we are doing but if you want me to answer as though that’s the case, I don’t know how that’s on the person being pursued. I have seen a lot [of people] acting like girls can’t make decisions for themselves and if you want to say that, I guess you can. I think a lot of people are living with their heads in the sand.”
Dash said she wanted to discuss the opposite perspective and see if Portnoy felt it would be better for men and for women, if women spoke up in situations where they did not feel they were in danger and asserted his or her legal rights to leave an uncomfortable situation or express their feelings, when there was no force involved.
“I don’t care her age, if at any point [a woman] is uncomfortable, she should speak up, and I think most of the time a guy would pick up on that,” Portnoy replied. “That to me is pretty straightforward.”
Dash wondered if there was a miscommunication or lack of communication between these women and Portnoy, in the moment, since the experiences they recounted to Business Insider differ so drastically from his recollections.
Portnoy said he didn’t believe so and feels at least one of the girls is just lying because her messages exchanged after their encounter indicated she had a great time.
“I’m saying this girl is lying. You have a girl who clearly is lying,” he said adamantly. “You have, in print, her saying she blacked out and didn’t remember it and I have a text with her 48 hours [later] asking to hang out again.”
Portnoy said he is happy that he has the messages and said it’s horrible for those who are accused of things and don’t have their own media platforms or even direct messages to prove their side of the story.
Dash asked Portnoy to respond to one girl saying she felt “preyed on.”
“People saying that you prey on teenage girls, what’s your response to that?” Dash asked.
“The person who is preying is the one pursuing,” Portnoy replied. “This girl aggressively pursued me. If anything I was preyed upon.”
“She’s like can I come over with six friends…I said no. I don’t want six of your friends here,” said Portnoy. “She then hit me up again she’s like come meet me here. I said no. She’s like, ‘can I come over alone?’ So, I reject that.”
“People kinda wanna live like they have their head in the sand a little bit. If you wanna go look into the background of people in my situation, 45 and under, rich, famous, well known, single, you’re gonna throw 80 percent of these people in jail if you have a problem with that or call them predators, cause that’s the culture,” exclaimed Portnoy. “I live in Miami half the year and I go out and every place is filled with 30, 40 year old guys and young twenty-year-old women. That’s the life. It’s legal. If you have a problem with it, change the laws and I’ll always obey the laws but I haven’t come close to doing anything illegal.”
“Do you take any offense to people saying that you really embody the brand and because you’ve done or said certain things on your platform, they should immediately associate you with being guilty in this type of a scenario?” Dash asked.
“I don’t know if I take offense to it, weirdly. The people who hate me are always going to hate me. I could give them $100 and they’d want $1000. People who like me, like me …. I mean honestly, Julia Black should be in jail for publishing that article. I honestly believe that.”
Portnoy claims Black has no journalistic credibility. “Anybody who looks at what was published objectively, if you blur the names out, take me out, so nobody has any bias…and look at the facts and not be like ‘oh my gosh that’s one of the great hatchet jobs I have ever seen,’ they’re lying. Everything you need to know about that is what they used as the headline. The fact that they marketed that, put it behind a paywall…the author should be in jail.”
Portnoy continued on, clearly furious about the article, which is titled “‘I was literally screaming in pain’: Young women say they met Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy for sex and it turned violent and humiliating.”
“This wasn’t news, this wasn’t journalism, this was an editorial hit piece that she doesn’t like me, she knew the narrative and she was gonna go as long as she could go, with getting the flimsiest stuff so she couldn’t get sued basically…They’ve danced around it. That’s why they’d didn’t accuse me of anything. Trust me if they coulda they woulda but they stopped. They got right to the edge every time.”
“The author, which again, which you’d only do if you were guilty, deleted her entire social media profile before she published it because she doesn’t want me to be able to connect constitutional malice, that there is a background of her not liking Barstool.”
Portnoy said the only way for him to sue Business Insider would be to try to do it in Europe because the laws are easier to navigate as a celebrity alleging defamation. He also said he wouldn’t go after the mother who filed the police report because he didn’t want his stoolies harassing the girl mentioned in the article that said she had mental health issues.
Dash mentioned that the article made it sound like the women who spoke anonymously were scared to speak their truth because of his followers, nicknamed “stoolies” and alleged harassment campaigns they had seen in the past from Portnoy’s “rabid fan base.”
“They say that in every single one. Again, the facts just totally dispel that,” Portnoy responded. “The first girl took pictures and was putting it on the internet and was happy 48 hours later. The current girl who supposedly was afraid, has videos on social media with hundreds of thousands of views saying it was her. So, that’s a lie.”
Dash wanted to know if Portnoy had any advice for men or women to avoid situations like his.
“Keep the receipts,” he said. “Make sure you have proof. I’m a unique target because people have been trying to take me down for a while but I’m certainly gonna be far more careful and vigilant but I don’t know. If someone’s gonna lie and make shit up about you I don’t know how you prevent it, except having the receipts. Thank Gd on the first girl, I know she didn’t think I still had those, so thank Gd I still did and the second one’s a little bit scary because again like I don’t know what could have stopped her. She coulda said I raped her and like it didn’t matter what she said. I had nothing to prove that she’s not telling the truth but she’s not telling the truth. “
Dash pointed out that people are sometimes convicted of sexual crimes based on he said/she saids without direct proof. Vice versa, oftentimes others get away with sex related crimes, also due to lack of proof.
“It would’ve been a total he said/she said. People who don’t like me aren’t gonna like me but the facts are, there was nothing ever filed. There were no complaints. This is all like revisionist history.”
Portnoy said he read Dash’s new DEFENSE article on his case and thought it was fair so that’s why he agreed to come on and utilize League of Justice’s forum to tell his side of the story, even though his lawyers advised him not to speak out in general.
Dash pointed out that people are being tried and convicted in the media nowadays so sometimes accused celebrities have to plead their cases publicly.
“I have nothing to hide, not with these girls, not with any,” Portnoy said. “So, it’s like if the truth is gonna bring me down, it’s gonna bring me down.”
This interview is part of League of Justice’s new DEFENSE section, designed to give those accused in the media, a forum for fair coverage of their side of the story. League of Justice takes any and all allegations of unlawful conduct seriously and does not endorse any particular viewpoint but aims to balance skewed coverage with fair and accurate reporting and responses to stories from all angles.