Photo of Donald Trump

Interview with Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports

July 24, 2020

PORTNOY: Your son's a big fan of our website.

THE PRESIDENT: He's a big fan of you.

PORTNOY: Even before this started, I was trying to get a retweet out of him for about six months.

THE PRESIDENT: We'll do that.

PORTNOY: Well, you got me one on one, but he'd DM me, I'd be like, "Okay, get the old man to get a retweet. Get the numbers up, then we'll talk business."

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're doing pretty well on that [crosstalk] .

PORTNOY: Yeah. Well, so are you.

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we are. We have good numbers.

PORTNOY: I consider myself, believe it or not, apolitical. I don't consider myself wildly Republican, Democrat, caught down in the middle. In fact, this is my first interview I've ever done, so I started at the top.

THE PRESIDENT: You started very well, that's good.

PORTNOY: I was going to give you the heads up, I don't know if you can remember this. You once were on Ali G's show, and you were the only one that sniffed out that was a fake interview and the whole thing. I don't know if you remember that. I thought maybe you'd be like, "Oh, this guy is a fake."

THE PRESIDENT: Were you involved with that show in some way?

PORTNOY: No, not at all. I just watched it on TV.

THE PRESIDENT: But you're right, I was the only one-

PORTNOY: 30 seconds, in and out.

THE PRESIDENT: All these guys, I said, "Hey, this guy is a total fraud," and I left, and then I found out.

PORTNOY: And everyone else sits there for six hours, I know.

THE PRESIDENT: You're the only one that's ever given me credit for that.

PORTNOY: That was a very sharp move because he's pretty good at that. He gets everybody.

THE PRESIDENT: Now I like this interview. No matter what he does it, I like this interview now, Mariano. That's right. I said, "What's going on with this guy?" I just felt it was a phony deal.

PORTNOY: Yeah. And nobody else did it. Nobody else smelled it out.

THE PRESIDENT: He said he was from British Broadcasting Corporation. They called up with everything, beautiful, the voices, "This is British Broadcast …" And then this guy shows up, I said, "This is a …" like immediately. And thank you very much, you gave me credit.

PORTNOY: On it, good.

THE PRESIDENT: Because I never get credit for anything good.

PORTNOY: I'm pretty good, that's what I'm saying.

THE PRESIDENT: You're pretty good. I like you.

PORTNOY: And here's part of it, I hate politics, my dad loves politics. The thing that drives me nuts is I feel like for us, which is good, they're like, "Hey Dave, you're a snowflake." "Hey Dave, you're a conservative, white, crazy person." And almost on each side, you can predict what somebody is going to say, which drives me nuts. It's like you put it in a box. So one of the things that I've been thinking about, and for all the people like me, which I think a good amount of the country is still like, "Which way am I going to vote?" One of the things that I have a question for, and again, I think it matters. I'm very curious on the answer.

When the Kaepernick thing started, I was critical of it. And as it's continued, baseball players now, I heard you say, if they kneel, you'll turn the game off. And we've got the Black Lives Matter protests, so for me, how does somebody who's dissatisfied, in your world, what's the way for them to show it? Because we don't want them looting and doing all the stuff they're doing. To me, that's a silent protest that is far better than going out on the streets and create crime. So I'm curious, what would you do if you had an issue with the country or something to show your displeasure?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I mean, you can always say you run for office, right? You become successful. You could run for a lower office, you can do things, but there are ways. You get groups together and there can be very friendly ways of doing it, very successful. I mean, you're going to have negative rebounds if it keeps up the way it is. As an example of Portland, this is crazy. 51 days, we sent in very powerful, not military but very strong people. The police are good but they were told not to do anything by the radical left mayor. Now you have to go out and speak your mind. I think speaking your mind is good, but you have to do it fairly. We are for justice, but we're for law and order. It's got to be law and order, and there is law and order.

I put something out when they were starting to rip down statues. I went out, I found an old law, an old bill, you couldn't get it passed today. You get 10 years in jail. 10 years and no games, and we have a lot of people in jail right now. If you ripped down a federal statue, because the states have to take care of their own, unfortunately, because I'd do that too, but you rip down a federal statue you get 10 years in jail. 10 years, no three months, and nothing's happened since then. It was amazing. I signed it. I had a news conference. I said, "If you do it …" And we were supposed to have thousands of people march on Washington that day, nobody showed up.

PORTNOY: How do we close the divide? At my age it just seems half the country hates the other half, and no matter what you say, they can't get along. And you're the lightning rod, there is no doubt about that in my mind. Do you agree with that? That you're like a lightning rod.

THE PRESIDENT: Sometimes for a purpose. I mean, but-

PORTNOY: How do we bring it together so the two sides right now that are at heads can be like, "You are my guy."

THE PRESIDENT: I think it was happening, and then we got hit by the China Virus. I think it was happening, success. Our country never did better. The best employment numbers in the history of our country. Best unemployment numbers, African American, Asian, American, Hispanic American, everybody, best unemployment numbers in history, Best stock market we've ever had. Although I must tell you, as you know probably very well, the stock market is almost at the same level right now, which a great tribute.

PORTNOY: I wasn't watching it today. That's why I went down today. I've been killing the stock market.

THE PRESIDENT: But the stock market has been absolutely great.

PORTNOY: Yep, great since March.

THE PRESIDENT: A lot of things are happening. Great housing numbers the other day, great everything. We're doing really well. We're trying to get rid of the rest of this pandemic, but success does it, and we were ready to do it. Because if you look at, when you say Hispanic, or when you say African American, Asian American, they were all working. Everybody was making a lot of money. Everybody was doing good, and it was coming together, and then China sent us this horrible, bad present, a real bad present. They could have stopped it. They should've stopped it. We made a trade deal with China, and it was a great deal, but it means much less to me now than it did then, because I'm not happy with what they've done to the world. They stopped it going into China from Wuhan, but they didn't stop it going into Europe, the United States and the rest of the world.

But we were ready to do it, and the word is success, and I think we're going to have that. I think we're going to have a great next year. You'll be able to see the results before the election, which is interesting because the election is November 3rd, at the beginning of November, the numbers are going to come out for the third quarter. I predict those numbers are going to be really great, despite the fact that Democrats want to keep their areas closed because they want the numbers to be bad.

PORTNOY: Right, they politicized it.

THE PRESIDENT: I mean, can you imagine?


THE PRESIDENT: I know how you feel about that. I think a big part of the reason they do it is for politics.

PORTNOY: I don't know whether a Black Lives Matter person would be like, "Well, the economy, great, but we still want the president to come out, whether it be Twitter or whatever, and have our back." So that's where the kneeling and things like that seems like such a small concession, and the thing to be like, "Yep, Donald's our guy."

THE PRESIDENT: I don't like the kneeling. I must be honest with you, I don't like the kneeling. I didn't like it for the NFL. I think there are many ways of showing you're unhappy, because when the NFL was happening-

PORTNOY: I hate Goodell, by the way.

THE PRESIDENT: I know, exactly. I know that. I've heard that actually. I don't know why he did it. In the middle of the summer, all of a sudden, sitting in a T-shirt in his basement, he came out with this thing that nobody was even thinking about it.

PORTNOY: He spiked at it. That's vintage Goodell. Nobody was talking about it, and he brought it back to the forefront.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't understand. He's talking in the middle of the summer, he comes out and he's sitting there and he looked nice, but I wouldn't say like Mariano. He looked nice in his T-shirt. I don't know if I'd look much worse than that to be honest with you. I wouldn't wear a T-shirt. I think he would've looked better in a suit and tie.

PORTNOY: That's why your Twitter game is strong.

THE PRESIDENT: No, he would have looked better in a suit and tie. If I had any advice, number one, he could have waited until at least the fall. But more importantly, I would have worn a suit or a tie or even an open shirt that's loose, not tight.

PORTNOY: I got you.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. So he came out with this thing, Dave, and everyone was saying, "Where did this come from now?" And the whole big thing started, and he's made a mistake.

PORTNOY: I actually have a question on your presidential power. So you may not know this, but during the NFL draft, he said, "I'm going to do a charity auction, and somebody can sit in my basement, watch Monday Night Football with me, and the charity will go to COVID." Well, I bid. And one, I spent $250,000 to win that chart. I won it fair and square, he rejected it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, he wanted no part of you, obviously.

PORTNOY: I know. I don't know if you can arrest the guy for that.

THE PRESIDENT: No, but I think it was a wise move.

PORTNOY: Yeah, by him.

THE PRESIDENT: It was a very smart move he did.

PORTNOY: That's the first nice thing you said about him.

THE PRESIDENT: Look, he's working hard and everything, but it's a strange thing.

PORTNOY: He's the most overpaid guy in the history of human beings.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, he makes a lot of money.

PORTNOY: A lot of money for a job that a lot of people could do. All right, I have to ask this question because we followed. When you meet world leaders, you stick the handshake on them, and it looks like you're going for the power move. Is that intentional?

THE PRESIDENT: Before COVID, right now I guess-

PORTNOY: Right, now you can't. This is pre-COVID.

THE PRESIDENT: He's the one, the only one I've shaken hands with in a long time. You, because you stuck your hand out, and I'm saying, "What are we doing?" But I shook your hand. You were tested?

PORTNOY: I was tested when I came in here.

THE PRESIDENT: Otherwise they'd take you out right now. They'll end the interview. Did you notice that? He stuck his hand out and I said, "What do I do here?" Rather than insult him, I said fine.

PORTNOY: I appreciated that. I don't even think-

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, I immediately ran, washed my hands, no. In the days, like four months ago, I just … People don't know that I get along really great with the world leaders. I'm tougher with the world leaders than any president's been. I've been tougher on Russia by far with the pipeline, with our military, with the oil. Now the number one energy producer in the world, and there's nobody even close. I've been very tough with Russia. I mean, China, nobody's been tough like me with China. And that's not to be tough, that's because for years they've taken advantage. So many countries, not those two only, the whole world, our allies, NATO, the whole world has taken advantage of our country.

But despite that, I have a very good relationship with leaders. I mean-

PORTNOY: Because of the handshake?

THE PRESIDENT: I shake their hand. I hug them.

PORTNOY: You power shake them.

THE PRESIDENT: I have a lot of great … Abe of Japan, look, they've been ripping us off for years and years. They send the cars in, there's no tax. We send a car to them, they say, "We don't take your cars." This is the kind of thing that we've put up with. We defend these countries, we get nothing for it. I've ended a lot of the craziness that's gone on.

PORTNOY: Do you love doing Twitter?

THE PRESIDENT: There are times when I love it, too much sometimes, right?


THE PRESIDENT: Where's Dan? I think we have-


THE PRESIDENT: Dan, what's our number now, total?


THE PRESIDENT: Can you believe it?

PORTNOY: What happens to those Twitter accounts? Is it yours when it's over? Do you lose all this?

THE PRESIDENT: It's mine. I don't know if I'll ever use it again, but it certainly was good. It's a platform … Look, we have fake news. You don't know about that, but we have fake news out there.

PORTNOY: I very much know about that. That exists in my world as well.

THE PRESIDENT: And then, Dave, we have a very big voice. When you have the kind of numbers that we have, you're able to get the word out and an honest word, and it's important. So it's been very important for me.

PORTNOY: Because I follow you on Twitter, and I know I do this, but I'm not the pre … well, my nickname is El pres, but I'm a company, so we're doing it. Do you ever tweet out and wake up like, "Oh man, I wish I didn't send that one out."


In the old days, before this, you'd write a letter and you'd say, "This letter is really bad," you put it on your desk and then you go back tomorrow and you say, "Oh, I'm glad I didn't send it," right? But we don't do that with Twitter. We put it out instantaneously. We feel great, and then you start getting phone calls, "Did you really say this?" I say, "What's wrong with that?" And you find a lot of things. You know what I find? It's not the tweets, it's the retweets that get you in trouble.

PORTNOY: You've been caught retweeting, and people be like, "Oh, he just retweeted this crazy person," so you don't even look, you just press retweet. You just fire from the hip.

THE PRESIDENT: You see something that looks good and you don't investigate it, and you don't look at what's on the helmet exactly, which is in miniature and you don't blow it up, and sometimes it's … I have found almost always, it's the retweets that get you in trouble.

PORTNOY: I've seen that a little bit


PORTNOY: Fauci is throwing out the first pitch, can you give him any tips? You think he's going to be able to. I mean, he seems like a little guy. I've never seen him. Are you expecting a good pitch here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, they say he was a good basketball player, and he is a very nice guy.

PORTNOY: How tall is he?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, he was not tall, but he was a fast little guard, and they say he was a good basketball player. He's actually a very nice guy. We don't always agree on everything. He'd like to do things that I don't like to do, but ultimately I make the decision, but we make it all a group of people. And he's been here for like 45 years, for many, many years, and he's a nice man actually.

PORTNOY: I'm a sports guy. The company that bought us Penn National are a gambling company, so sports gambling is a big part of what we do. I switched to the stock market actually, day trading. Fauci is on my X list, because every time he talks and says the country should stay inside, my stocks tank, so I don't like that aspect of it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, he'd like to see it closed up for a couple of years, but that's okay because I'm president, so I say, "Well, I appreciate your opinion, now give me another opinion, somebody please."

PORTNOY: Yeah, you overruled.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you have to. Now we're open and we're doing well, and I just had a press conference about opening the schools. You've got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have, or I have, the kids.

PORTNOY: That's not saying much for me.

THE PRESIDENT: That's not saying much?


THE PRESIDENT: But they do. They have it. It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of 1%. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases, if you have diabetes, if you have problems with something, but the kids are in great shape. So we want to open the schools and we're opening the country. We had great numbers announced the other day. And two weeks ago, we had the biggest number of jobs we've ever had. And the month before that, we had the same thing. A lot of good things are happening, and I think it looks like a V. We have a lot of people that would like to see their states closed. I have a feeling on November 4th, they'll open them up. I think they want to do it for political reasons, but we're doing well.

The polls are starting to really shape up. Dave, we were doing great. We were sailing. George Washington would have had a hard time beating us. And then when the China virus came in, all of a sudden, it's a dampener, it really is.

PORTNOY: Well, COVID is bad.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a downer, though, psychologically. It went down, and now we're really starting to do well. We're looking really good at a lot of different places.

PORTNOY: I'm sure you've been asked this. It's one of the questions that I had when I was thinking of what I would ask you here, because you theoretically, for somebody like me, who's sports, entertainment, having fun, you had the dream life, seemingly. And there's a part of me that's like, "I wonder if he ever," and I know the answer is going to be no, "Regrets it." Because now, I mean, you're the most famous person in the world. My guess is nobody ever said, "Hey, I don't like Donald Trump before he became president," but now everyone has an opinion and your life has changed forever when seemingly you had the dream life beforehand.

THE PRESIDENT: I was in so many rap songs, like 79 or something. I was in every rap. This is before I did this, right? It's a very interesting thing that you say, because the best day in my life in terms of business and life and everything was the day before I announced I'm running for president. Everything was good. The company was good. I had finished up a lot of jobs that were very successful, and then I said, "I want to do this." Now, I'm really glad I did, but I was treated very unfairly with fake Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia. Ukraine, Ukraine, all fake stuff. It's a very vicious business.

Somebody said, "Who's the toughest in the world to deal with? Is it Russia? Is it China? Could it be North Korea?" I said, "No, the toughest is the United States. It's the toughest to deal with." When you look at what I have to do, I have to focus on the big picture, but I also have to focus … I have so many people on the left or call them Democrats, call them whatever you want, and then you look at what they're doing with cities. Every city is run by a liberal Democrat and they're going to hell, and we have to do something. We just sent people into Chicago. We sent people into Portland, as we said. We're sending people into New York to help out. It's incredible, but I love doing it. There was this phony deal that I was devastated when I won, because I couldn't have my life. I had a great life, I did.

One thing that happened, I was going into a thing called the Robin Hood Foundation. I'll never forget it. It was just about the night I announced or whatever. And my wife looked at me, she said, "I hear people booing." And she was with me for a long time. We've been together a long time. She said, "Some people are booing." I said, "Yeah, but some people were also clapping wildly." She said, "You know what, I've been with you a long time, I've never heard anyone boo you." This was right after I started being the politician. It meant something because I said it's the first time in my life I was ever booed. You know this.


THE PRESIDENT: I'd go to Yankee stadium, people would go … Who is a 100%? But it was pretty close. And now, I would say this, I have more fervor on the one side, and I have far more animosity on the other side.

PORTNOY: That's the vibe I get, "This is my DNA, but I'm now president." I feel like so many interviews, they're always coming from an agenda, positive or negative, and what noticed, I think, they come at you hard, you just come back harder. And that's a very different thing for the president. I mean, I'm the president of Barstool, but people would say, is it presidential? Is it not? And you just do your thing and it wins. I wondered that. Here's a hypothetical, if the perfect candidate, let's not say Republican, Democrat, came along and said, "If we make him president, this country is going to be prosperous, everyone will get along." Would you step aside?

THE PRESIDENT: I mean, I don't know that such a person exists.

PORTNOY: Probably not.

THE PRESIDENT: And I should say yes, absolutely, I would. So let me say it that way, because that's a much more politically correct? Absolutely.

PORTNOY: You're not known to be politically correct.

THE PRESIDENT: But it doesn't work that way, because it just doesn't, unfortunately. I really believe success. We were there. Everybody was working. Nobody's … Probably you, I don't know how you're doing now, but you were probably doing better four months ago.

PORTNOY: Well, I got into the stock market right when it went up.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, you got in at the right time, but a lot of people with the 401(k), I mean, they're doing phenomenally. But a lot of people sold stock, and now they're saying, "I missed it." I said to people, "Don't sell. Just don't sell. Because the foundation is so strong, don't sell." But the people that really lost in terms of economic are the people that got out. The people that stayed in, they stayed with me, they're doing great, and we're almost at record highs.

PORTNOY: Okay. The last thing, and I'm going to wrap this up. And this, we asked for permission, you can say no if you don't want to do it. My dad and I have had debates forever. He's not the biggest fan of yours, what I want to do is kind of a prank. He doesn't know I'm even here, but we've talked a lot. I want to call him, FaceTime him, and just he'd die if he saw that I was with you.

THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. You can do it quickly, right?

PORTNOY: Yeah. It'll take two seconds. He knows it's coming. This is going to be a-

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, he does, that's bad. That's too bad.

PORTNOY: Well, this is going to be absolutely great. Let me get the thing here. I have it all set. This will take two seconds. Dad, this is going to be-

THE PRESIDENT: Is he a good dad?

PORTNOY: He's a great dad.


PORTNOY: All right. I'll put you on with-

THE PRESIDENT: Don't worry about socially distancing.

PORTNOY: No, I'll come further. Hey, I got a question for you, what would you ask this guy, dad?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I know. Trista sent me something, so I'm not shocked.

PORTNOY: The goal was to shock you. We've had a very good interview.

THE PRESIDENT: And you have a very talented son, good guy.


PORTNOY: That's all he's got.

THE PRESIDENT: He's honest. You have an honest father.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I was wondering why you were pinning me down. Mr. President, he never calls me.

THE PRESIDENT: That's no good.

PORTNOY: There it is.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I haven't heard from him, unsolicited, in a long time.

PORTNOY: Well, there you go. You just needed a meeting with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I knew something was going on, sir. I knew something was going on, and I'm not shocked, although I didn't expect to see your face just now.

THE PRESIDENT: It's great to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Can you get him to call me a little more.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to put a lot of pressure on him. He'll call you today in a little while.

PORTNOY: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

PORTNOY: All right, dad.

THE PRESIDENT: Great to meet you.


PORTNOY: He handled that better than I thought he would. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: He was really good. I was really worried about that. He was nice.

PORTNOY: He got tipped off, so this must've been leaked. I don't know how.

THE PRESIDENT: He was nice. Dave, thank you very much.

PORTNOY: Yeah, I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Oh, can't do it.

THE PRESIDENT: A great honor.

Donald J. Trump, Interview with Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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