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Barstool’s Portnoy Rattles Investors Saying He’s Sick

(Bloomberg) — Barstool Sports founder and cult retail investing figure Dave Portnoy posted a bedridden video saying he was sick — possibly with coronavirus — sending shares of backer Penn National Gaming Inc. sliding on Wednesday.

Portnoy said he hasn’t left his bed in 40 hours. “Do I have Covid? Maybe,” he said in the video, which was posted to social media. “I’m just going to get better, so I can come back and do what I do, which is to entertain you.”

Penn National, a casino operator that’s been making a bigger push into sports betting, acquired a 36% interest in Barstool for about $163 million in cash and convertible preferred stock in January.

Wednesday’s video sent the shares down as much as 2.5% to $54.01. Penn National’s stock had more than doubled this year through Tuesday.

Barstool is a key piece of its expansion plan. Penn National CEO Jay Snowden reiterated earlier this month that the Barstool app should launch in Pennsylvania in September and said other states would launch in fourth quarter of this year and first quarter of 2021 is on track.

Portnoy posted the video to explain to his followers why he didn’t post his live streamed day trading this morning. During quarantine, millions of Americans stuck at home with little to do have turned to investing and trading for the first time, including Portnoy, whose live stream show reaches millions of his followers. He tweeted last week about his interest in crypto.

He’s long been a polarizing figure for his role as founder of Barstool, which has a strong following of mostly young men, but some consider sexist. Now, Portnoy has also become a polarizing figure in the financial community as many of his followers, called “stoolies,” have ridden the massive recovery in equities. Some have criticized Portnoy for his brashness, touting riskier stocks to his followers and calling Warren Buffett “washed up.”

(Updates with Portnoy background in last paragraph.)

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