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David Portnoy on K&C: I stand by explicit Sam Ponder rant

Alex Reimer
October 18, 2017 - 10:22 am

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy says he stands by his explicit three-year-old rant against ESPN anchor Sam Ponder, in which he called her a “prude” and told her to “sex it up and be slutty.” But he also understands why she took offense to his words and credits ESPN management for standing behind Barstool.

The controversy erupted this week, one day before “Barstool Van Talk,” the late-night show featuring Barstool personalities Dan “Big Cat” Katz and PFT Commenter, debuted on ESPN2. Ponder, who now hosts ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” welcomed the duo in unceremonious fashion. 


 
Even though the blog in question was written by Portnoy, not Katz, Ponder kept up her offensive. “I was wrong in thinking @BarstoolBigCat wrote that article & called me a slut repeatedly,” she tweeted. “He just continuously laughed along. It was the PRESIDENT of @barstoolsports who said these things. Happy to clarify.”

In an interview Wednesday with “Kirk & Callahan,” Portnoy explained the rationale behind his anti-Ponder tirade. 

“I wish I didn’t say (slutty),” he said. “I just throw around words. For us, that’s very Barstool. I’m a college football fan, so is Dan –– Sam Ponder had her kid everywhere. It was, like, enough with the kid. I’m watching for college football, signs and stuff, and it was just ‘kid everywhere.’ So we ranted, and to be honest I thought it was a pretty vintage Barstool clip. Now, I have a long history of just throwing words out. I called her a prude and a slut in the same sentence. It makes no sense. I just say words. But if someone is going to hold a grudge, which by the way, I do respect, and she released it the day before the show. I think it’s a funny clip. I think it was fair.”

Portnoy went on to praise ESPN for not pulling the show amidst the heightened controversy. 

"To their credit, the executives at ESPN, they went out on a limb,” he said. “I think they knew there would be backlash. I don’t think they knew the Sam Ponder controversy was going to erupt. But they were a network who said ‘we’re going to take some flak, but we think it’s worth it, because we stand behind the humor.’ Obviously, I don’t think they anticipated this, but they deserve some credit. They got put in a box a little bit, in my opinion. There is no right answers for them in my mind, and almost for us. It’s very hard. We want to stay true to who we are, but we don’t want to jeopardize this relationship. It’s an interesting relationship, to say the least.”

Barstool was also in the headlines last week, when an ex-recruit, former Fox Sports college football host Elika Sadeghi, leaked the contract the company wanted her to sign it. In it, Barstool asks her to acknowledge she would be comfortable working in an environment where she might be exposed to “nudity, sexual scenarios, racial epithets, suggestive gestures, profanity and references to stereotypes.”

Portnoy defended the contract’s language, saying it’s industry standard.

“That, to me, was a ridiculous controversy there was nothing to,” he explained. “We have a pretty standard boilerplate entertainment contract from our lawyers in LA that say you’re going to be exposed to offensive jokes, off color humor, every type of joke about race, religion. This girl, we were going to hire. We had agreed on a deal. Then she backed out because of this clause. I offered to take it out. I’m not a lawyer, I didn’t even know it was in there. I wanted the girl. I thought she was talented. I said, ‘We’ll work with you. If you want me to take it out, want me to rewrite it.’ She said she had already seen it and could never go back, because she was afraid if another girl signed it and leaked it, she’d have to defend it. I said, ‘Well, you don’t have to sign it.’ As it turns out, she leaked it. She went public with it. And again, it’s a fairly standard thing. It doesn’t have to do with male, female or anything. But when we’re involve,d it turns into a bigger deal.”

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