After more than seven years at the helm of Barstool Sports — and in the wake of the company’s ill-fated sale in 2023 — Erika Ayers Badan announced Tuesday that she is stepping down as CEO.
Last summer, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy bought the site back from casino and online gambling operator Penn Entertainment for $1. That came after Penn Entertainment paid a total of about $550 million to acquire 100% control of Barstool, a few months before deciding to part ways with Barstool.
More from Variety
“The last two years was all Penn all the time,” Ayers Badan wrote in a farewell message to Barstool staffers. “It was a balancing act and kind of an exercise in futility — trying to generate bets at the same time as protecting a pirate ship while also subtly contorting it to be something more predictable, pacifiable and projectable to match with a casino company. In the last year we sold the company twice. First to Penn for $550M and then to Dave for $1. It seems insane and it was.”
Now New York-based Barstool Sports “is back as it should be,” Ayers Badan wrote. “A pirate ship with Dave at the helm… I did what I came here to do and more than I could have ever imagined and now it’s your turn to take it forward.”
Ayers Badan added, “My time at Barstool will forever inspire me. I gave you my all. Thank you for giving me so much more.”
Ayers Badan (formerly Nardini) joined Bartstool in the summer of 2016, back when the company was majority owned by Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group. She previously was chief marketing officer at AOL.
In a post Tuesday on X/Twitter, Portnoy wrote, “There is no doubt @erika_ was the perfect and probably only fit for us. It’s been quite a run and we couldn’t have done it without her. She was everything I dreamed she’d be and more in a CEO.”
In her note to Barstool staffers, Ayers Badan said that “At the heart of it, I came here to work with Dave. I liked Dave instantly and I trusted him… There is no one better to make sure Barstool lasts far into the future in the way it was intended than Dave.”
When she joined the company, “expectations were low, assumptions of failure were probably high,” per Ayers Badan. She claims Barstool blew past its five-year goals in 20 months and that as of today, revenue has grown 5000% since she joined in July 2016.
Best of Variety