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Why Dave Portnoy Has Pizza Affect Regardless of Harassment Allegations

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On Saturday, September 23, the inaugural One Chunk Pizza Fest was held in a rain-soaked ballpark in Coney Island. The competition was the topic of a large controversy, because of the determine placing it on: Barstool Sports activities founder Dave Portnoy.

Since 2017, Portnoy has hosted a sequence known as One Chunk Pizza Evaluations on his YouTube channel, the place his 1.05 million subscribers tune in for his ideas on numerous pizzas. Portnoy assigns a rating to every pie after taking a couple of bites, and provides commentary on the crust, the sauce, and different parts. The primary-ever One Chunk Pizza Fest was Portnoy’s try to convey collectively his favourite pizzerias, together with Prince Road Pizza in New York and Sally’s Apizza in Connecticut, for ticket patrons who paid as a lot as $700 for the VIP expertise.

However forward of the competition, eating places who selected to take part have been criticized by meals media figures like J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Instagram influencer Joe Rosenthal for collaborating within the occasion, as a result of Portnoy has a well-documented historical past of offensive speech, and a number of girls have accused him of sexual misconduct and harassment. He doesn’t make his opinions or attitudes a secret, and his conduct is sufficient that many pizza followers are rightly involved to see their favourite outlets affiliate with him.

But, in accordance with Portnoy, at least 5,000 folks attended the competition, regardless of the “haters” who tried to “destroy this occasion.” And judging by the storied pizzerias, together with Di Fara, Lucali, and Frank Pepe, who selected to take part within the Fest, and the truth that so many individuals confirmed up within the rain for bites of pizza, it’s clear Portnoy’s affect within the pizza world stays sturdy. However why?

What’s the cope with Dave Portnoy?

It’s not Portnoy’s pizza opinions that make him a controversial determine. In 2003, he launched the web site Barstool Sports activities, which earned a large following for its raunchy, blatantly offensive model of sports activities protection. As only a transient abstract of his offensive remarks, Portnoy has prompt that some girls who put on skinny denims need to be raped, condoned homophobic, misogynistic, and racist language, and used a misogynist slur to seek advice from an ESPN host who identified Barstool Sports activities’ historical past of sexist remarks.

Portnoy denies that Barstool Sports activities is “anti-women.” In 2018 he informed Insider “I gave two women their very own radio present … We now have employed lady after lady — they are saying it’s an incredible place to work.” Portnoy has additionally mentioned a few of these remarks have been made “off the cuff,” however has made little apology. “We’re sick of different folks saying what different folks ought to chortle at,” he informed Insider. “Individuals appear to have ethical superiority.”

Portnoy has been the topic of sexual misconduct allegations from a number of girls, a few of whom say he engaged in “violent” intercourse and others who declare he filmed them with out their consent. Portnoy has vehemently denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, and filed a defamation go well with in opposition to Insider, who printed the reporting in 2021. A decide dismissed Portnoy’s go well with in November 2022.

Portnoy has additionally been accused of threatening his critics. In early September, he posted a video trashing Boston pizzeria Dragon Pizza, which he described because the “worst pizza place in America.” Within the video, Portnoy has an encounter with proprietor Charlie Redd, who criticized Portnoy’s “one-bite” assessment fashion. The 2 ended up in a heated change, and each Redd and Portnoy addressed the incident on their social media platforms. Portnoy additionally appeared on Tucker Carlson’s X present to speak concerning the incident, instantly after which the pizzeria was flooded with dangerous opinions and harassing feedback. Weeks later, Portnoy stans are nonetheless leaving nasty feedback on Dragon Pizza’s Instagram posts.

Those that defend Portnoy’s conduct level to his assist for small companies, which means the pizzerias that he bestows with good opinions. His devoted viewers of three million Twitter followers and 4.5 million on Instagram clearly trusts his pizza opinions. Portnoy additionally raised $29 million for small companies because the COVID-19 pandemic pressured eating places throughout the nation to close down. A pizzeria that earns a superb assessment from Portnoy may also, usually, count on a significant bump in enterprise. A New Jersey pizzeria proprietor informed Fox Enterprise that Portnoy “saved” her enterprise, whereas a Maine pizzeria reported being “overwhelmed” with orders instantly after Portnoy’s assessment went up. (Notably, Dragon Pizza was additionally “packed” after Redd’s spat with Portnoy.)

Why is that this all coming to a head now?

Although all of this has been public data for a while, information of the competition reinvigorated critics of Portnoy, One Chunk Pizza, and Barstool Sports activities. Meals author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and mathematician and self-proclaimed “meals antagonist” Joe Rosenthal have complained concerning the pizza business’s ongoing assist of Portnoy on their Instagrams, with Rosenthal compiling knowledge about Portnoy together with allegations made in opposition to him and writing — in response to the information and allegations — “Don’t let the meals world proceed to allow this hurt.”

Final week on NJ.com, Jeremy Schneider puzzled aloud “why are N.J. pizzerias supporting misogynist bully Dave Portnoy?” and known as for pizzerias to drop out of the weekend’s competition. And in his publication the Lo Occasions, Ryan Sutton makes the purpose that though Portnoy’s conduct is sufficient cause to keep away from his content material, the One Chunk Pizza Pageant wasn’t even a superb deal. “Why pay the very best worth you’ve ever paid for pizza — $150-$300 per particular person — if the realm’s prime eating places are feeding New Yorkers for simply $3 to $6 a slice?,” he writes. “And people Portnoy tickets don’t even get you alcohol! I hate to say this, however you’ve all been shaken down.”

The general public pushback appears to be getting louder, however none of this data is new, which raises the query: Why has it taken this lengthy for folks to publicly communicate up? One cause is perhaps the sample of harassment that follows many who criticize Portnoy. Each Schneider and Emily Heil, creator of a latest Washington Publish article chronicling Portnoy’s historical past and the controversy across the competition, are at the moment enduring harassment from Portnoy and his followers.

On his weblog, Portnoy says Schneider shouldn’t have “gone to battle” in opposition to him, and “I don’t wish to hear him cry about how the Stoolie bullied him after he threw the primary punch and that he deserves all the pieces he’s about to get.” (Portnoy followers are known as “Stoolies.”) He additionally issued what appeared like a imprecise risk to any pizzerias who could have pulled out of his competition: “Now, don’t get me flawed I’m not frightened about locations dropping as a result of I’ve shut relationships with nearly all of them and so they love me. However think about if I didn’t?” In a latest pizza assessment video, he additionally inspired followers to flip off J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Lots of Portnoy’s followers are identified to spam and harass anybody who criticizes him, whether or not it’s insulting detractors in Instagram feedback or doxxing folks, and the proprietor of Dragon Pizza says quickly after Portnoy uploaded a video of his and Portnoy’s combat on-line, he started receiving demise threats.

It’s comprehensible that many eating places could wish to hold their heads down. However others see no drawback with Portnoy, or in the event that they do, they consider his actions and private statements ought to don’t have anything to do along with his pizza opinions. Kevin Jackson, common supervisor of John’s of Bleecker Road, informed the Washington Publish he wasn’t conscious of any assault allegations, however “while you discuss enterprise practices, he was the man elevating thousands and thousands of {dollars} for companies throughout COVID. He’s been good to pizzerias and eating places normally. That’s my tackle that.”

On its Instagram, One Chunk Pizza Fest participant Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria wrote “PIZZA and politics don’t combine!” And certain, most of us would most likely be blissful to by no means take into consideration our pizzaiolos’ political opinions. However Portnoy’s deeds are public, so supporters are pressured to reckon with them. He’s the one who introduced politics into the equation.

There’s no denying Portnoy’s affect and the income he can generate for pizzerias. However it’s maybe due to the risky nature of the restaurant business within the first place that Portnoy has amassed a lot energy. Margins are razor skinny, third-party supply corporations are consuming up earnings, and inflation is making calculating simply how a lot somebody is prepared to pay for a slice of pizza ever extra fraught. If one video can drive visitors and earnings for months, even years, on finish, why look that present horse within the mouth?

Nonetheless, there’s loads of proof that pizzerias don’t should be acknowledged by Portnoy with a purpose to survive, and even thrive. As Sutton writes, “Many of the Tri-State space’s greatest pizzerias didn’t attend Portnoy’s competition and possibly gained’t attend future ones. Let that sink in.”

The place can we go from right here?

One factor appears abundantly clear: Portnoy has no plans to get out of the pizza assessment enterprise, which implies that if pizzerias don’t wish to be related to Portnoy, they could wish to actively — and publicly — reject his endorsement. However as we’ve seen, that’s an motion that may have critical penalties — Redd says that he handled demise threats after Portnoy’s look on Tucker Carlson’s present, and his historical past of harassing reporters (and, sometimes suing them) is well-documented.

However for pizzerias who really feel voicing their distaste for Portnoy may damage their enterprise, there’s another choice: Simply ignore him. There’s no want for these institutions to affiliate themselves with Portnoy, even when he’s driving new enterprise. Don’t repost his opinions, don’t thank him, and don’t make the most of his platform in an effort to make a couple of further bucks. There will not be a lot pizzeria house owners can do about Portnoy exhibiting up with a video digital camera and ranking their pies, however they will refuse to have interaction with the hype he’s making an attempt to create.

The identical goes for the remainder of us within the common studying public. Anybody can eat sufficient pizza to develop their very own style and experience on it. There’s no must ask Dave Portnoy the place to get good pizza, particularly when it appears as if his pizza competition type of sucked. It was windy, wet, and overly saturated with giant photos of Portnoy’s face, for some cause. There are many nice, really well-researched pizza guides on the market, which aren’t based mostly on the opinions of only one man and don’t include a aspect of repulsiveness.



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