David Portnoy Profile: Is This Really Boston’s Next Media Mogul?

Yes. His name is David Portnoy. And he’s building an empire – one blog post (and one babe) at a time.

By Amy J. Downey | Boston Magazine |

Early on, Portnoy registered the official BarstoolSports.com domain name.  “I figured I should have a website, because that’s what everybody was doing,” he says. Still, it was three years before the site went live, and the first version was almost comically simple. It featured nothing but PDFs of the print version’s latest issue. Before long, a Barstool fan named Ian White, who worked at a Web design firm in New York City, reached out to Portnoy. “If I build you something, where you can just cut and paste content, would you use it?” White asked. Barstool Sports as people know it today was born.

That website is basically a virtual frat house, a place of uncensored, intemperate, often sexist stream-of-consciousness chatter among relatively well-educated 25-year-old guys. The writing is vulgar, lowbrow, over the top, and full of expletives. It can also be oddly addictive, with one sophomoric headline (“Burning Question #24 Answered: Who Wins a Fight Between a Grown Woman and a Midget”) followed by another (“No Big Deal…Just a Huge Ass Mysterious Missile Spotted Off the Coast of California”). “People would probably disagree, but I think we invented a genre of website that is sports/smut,” says Portnoy.

The site’s sports coverage — ostensibly its area of expertise — is a direct reflection of the office water-cooler sensibility. In the Barstool universe, Shaq’s free-throw percentage is far less important than how the Celtics center dressed up like “Shaquita” for Halloween, or how Steven Tyler — and not longtime stalwart Rene Rancourt — sang the national anthem at the Bruins home opener. Regular readers check in to find out the latest on Tom Brady’s hair, not his arm. “Trust me, I know our writing isn’t good. We’ll never be able to write like [ESPN.com's "Sports Guy" columnist] Bill Simmons,” Portnoy says. “But Bill Simmons will never be able to do what we do, either.”

Portnoy, or at least his alter ego, is one of the biggest draws of the site, and he is the first to admit that El Prez is an uncouth and chauvinistic character, one who objectifies women, ridicules his readers, refers to his interns as “slaves,” and tells visitors to “Keep Reading Bitches.”

The other draw is, of course, the pictures of women. Lots and lots of women, usually displayed in various stages of undress. Each morning, Portnoy posts photos of an up-and-coming actress or model under the tag line “Wake Up with…” In the afternoon, another girl gallery is posted, this time featuring one local “smokeshow,” i.e., a girl who’s “smoking” hot. To decide who makes the cut, El Prez wades through 20 to 30 e-mail nominations a day from college kids all around New England; self-nominations are almost as common as referrals. Once Portnoy settles on a winner, he gets her permission to post several photos, which are usually pulled from the woman’s Facebook page. Kelly from UNH. Marika from Brown. Hannah from Simmons. Enlightened? No. Effective? Yes.

The smokeshows have become the signature feature of Barstool Sports, a brand-name product. “I’d say he’s definitely cornered the market on smokeshows,” says A. J. Daulerio, editor of Deadspin, one of the most popular sports websites in the country. The scantily clad coeds are both the gateway drug to Barstool Sports and a key component of Portnoy’s expansion plans. It’s easy to picture Lauren from OSU, or Julie from FSU, or Shannon from Cal anchoring a Barstool Sports site in Columbus, Tallahassee, or Berkeley.

  • csr

    So the guy the reprints articles from other sites and gives sophomoric, Internet forum users-style commentary is considered a media mogul? Who knew?

  • El

    Viva La Stool!!

  • Jason

    VIVA LA STOOL

  • Jeff

    Viva La Stool!

  • Steve

    Dear first commenter,

    You suck large goat penis.

    Good day sir.

  • andrew

    The girl on the left is HOT!

  • J

    That Boston Magazine would even stoop to interview this lowlife is beyond understanding. He’s misogynist of the highest order and gives his mentally challenged fans a venue on which they can spew hatred and venom. He’s not funny, he can’t write or spell, and he’s one of the ugliest looking dudes on the planet. He might want to see a plastic surgeon about getting rid of the penis on his face masquerading as a nose. That some poor woman would actually marry him is another mystery. Can’t wait til they have a daughter who can grow up looking at Daddy’s website while figuring out how much he hates women.

  • Joel

    a few points about the 1st commentator…

    1) tough to criticize someone for being vulgar with a vulgar comment yourself…kinda steals some of your thunder

    2) don’t use big words like misogynist…Dave doesn’t understand them anyway

    3) not all movies are real…they have acotrs…some people act to get a rise out of people…it happened with you

    4) way to give Dave ammunition…you are now being ridiculed on his site and helping generate revenue for for barstool sports…congrats!

  • michael

    all you haters of barstool can go to hell ! el pres is one of the funniest mother fuckers ever. period thats it you cant dispute it if you dont like it then dont read it end of story as for the rest of us we are all gunna continue staying loyal regardless of the dumbass things you write so you might as well not write them

  • michael

    all you haters of barstool can go to hell ! el pres is one of the funniest mother fuckers ever. period thats it you cant dispute it if you dont like it then dont read it end of story as for the rest of us we are all gunna continue staying loyal regardless of the dumbass things you write so you might as well not write them

  • max

    What a joke this article is. There is no way barstool gets 1.7 million monthly uniques. Portnoy doesnt even know what monthly uniques means. Compare barstoolsports.com to rollingstone.com and you will see rolling stone has double the traffic.

  • Black

    Yo all you haters need to get off elpres’ balls, haters gonna hate, anyways Davey, can you unblock me bro, i want comment on the boston site, viva la stool and yeah you fat chicks need to lose weight, that is all

  • Yeehaw

    How can you ppl hate on the stool? Dude built a ridiculous following from nothing, so you gotta respect that at least. I don’t see anybody else lighting the world on fire getting articles written about them in Boston Magazine. So all you tightasses out there with no sense of humor hatin on Barstool stick to sippin tea with your pinkies in the air, meanwhile us stoolies will be laughin our asses off over at Barstool and rubbin one out to pics of your daughter. VIVA LA FUCKIN STOOL DICKHEADS

  • a

    David Portnoy is a disgrace to Boston. No better than Michael Jackson with this child porn shit.

  • john

    viva la stool!!

  • vinny

    haters gonna hate, slaters gonna slate

  • Nick

    VIVA LA STOOL!

  • http://twitter.com/theWizzl3 Drew Waggoner

    viva la stool!

  • Eric Randall

    Viva la stool

  • oojr
  • John Lydon
    • John

      More cluelessness from people that don’t know a story from a hole in the wall.

  • Týr

    OH yeah a good media mogul….one who allowed a kid with Cerebral Palsy, who was trying to enjoy a freakin Bruins game with his father, to be turned into a laughing stock on his website….

    • John

      Get a grip and a clue. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Typical.

  • John

    Examples?