As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage its way through the country, small businesses have been hit particularly hard by the economic shutdown.
With numbers at an all time high, many states have forced a ban on indoor dining but with cold winter weather, restaurants have to make a choice: close down, offer take-out only, or spend money on heaters, tents and other necessary equipment.
Upon seeing these businesses struggle to make ends meet, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy started the Barstool Fund, an online fundraiser seeking to help those in need.
Portnoy said he was moved to help struggling Americans after he complained that the U.S. government wasn’t helping enough and “The Profit” star Marcus Lemonis challenged him to put his money where his mouth is, the Miami Herald reports.
The fundraiser began on December 17 when Portnoy gave $500,000 to dozens affected by the pandemic. In the last month, more than $25 million has been raised by supporters on social media, including celebrities.
Celebrity names include Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Rogers, who donated $500,000, said: “I’ve been following El Presidente on social media for a while; I’ve enjoyed his takes on many different things. And when he got kind of challenged, I was wondering how he would respond. Initially, it was ‘Here’s $500,000, you take it; you figure how to go with the money.’ That changed pretty quickly into him and his folks there figuring out how to get the money out. It’s just an amazing deal, what they’re doing; to be able to not only change people’s lives and livelihoods, but to do it in such a timely fashion. I mean, the money is going out every 24 to 72 hours.”
Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube, also donated to the fund.
Portnoy said as of now, the Patriots are the only professional sports team to have made a donation.
There is only one rule to qualify for the donation: the business must still be paying its employees, and ideally has been around in a community for a long time.
Once a business is chosen, Portnoy makes a personal call to the owner to share the good news.