ESPN sticking with Barstool Sports after Sam Ponder reveals sexist, vulgar comments

Barstool Sports CEO defends the company as "not for everyone."

ESPN2 will debut Barstool Van Talk, a new sports talk show that comes out of a partnership between Disney-owned ESPN and the raucous, often off-color guys at Barstool Sports. The show, featuring the crew behind Barstool Sports’ popular Pardon My Take podcast, will premiere at 1 a.m. Wednesday and appear across many of ESPN digital properties, including the ESPN app and ESPN’s YouTube channel.

But one prominent ESPN personality is upset about the arrangement.

Sam Ponder, the host of ESPN’s Sunday Morning Countdown, took to Twitter Monday night to sarcastically welcome Dan “Big Cat” Katz by tweeting out screenshots of sexist and vulgar comments made about her in a 2014 blog post on Barstool Sports.

Katz, who will host Barstool Van Talk with PFT Commenter, responded that he wasn’t the author of the post in question. Ponder wrote in a tweet Tuesday that the vulgar remarks were by Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy.

“Seriously you sound like a KO Barstool freak, not a chick that has a job where the #1 requirement is you make men hard,” Portnoy wrote in his post. “Your entire career and livelihood is based on appealing to guys like me and blogs like ours. Bottomline is guys thinking chicks are hot is natural. It’s Darwinism. It’s never gonna change.”

Burke Magnus, the executive vice president of programming and scheduling for ESPN, called the comments “offensive and inappropriate,” but said changes for tonight’s debut aren’t planned.

“As stated previously, we do not control the content of Barstool Sports,” Magnus said. “We are doing a show with Big Cat and PFT, and we do have final say on the content of that show.”

Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini took to Twitter to defend her company following Ponder’s remarks, noting that Barstool is a “comedy brand that’s been on the internet for 15 years and not for everyone” and the site grew a large audience “because it was unafraid to have a hot take, an unpopular opinion or to cross the line.”

Katz may not have written the particular post that Ponder shared. But in a 2014 episode of Barstool Rundown, he laughed when Portnoy repeatedly referred to Ponder as a “slut” and said, “We want to see you sex it up and be slutty and not see some prude” after she showed a photo of her newborn daughter on NFL Gameday.

During the segment, Katz and Portnoy also both laughed and referred to Ponder’s daughter as her “little rat kid.”

Listen (warning: explicit language):

SportsCenter host Sage Steele took to Twitter to voice her support for Ponder.

Unfortunately, these types of comments are nothing new for Ponder. During a March interview with Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, Ponder opened up about the many offensive tweets she has received on social media.

“Like any woman in the public eye, I get a considerable number of sexist/misogynistic tweets from people,” Ponder said. “The irony of being told you’re getting a job for sex appeal when you are seven months pregnant wearing your husband’s clothes because nothing else fits and also covered in toddler pee (yeah, potty training isn’t going great) was not lost on me.”

In response to a critic questioning the timing of her comments, Ponder said she was afraid to speak out three years ago out of fear more attacks would follow.

“I selfishly didn’t say anything 3 yrs ago (or in response to their stuff abt other women) bc like many women in this industry, I was afraid of more attacks from their followers,” Ponder said in a response on Twitter. “Working for the same company now gave me more courage.”