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The riveting saga at Barstool Sports involving Dave Portnoy, Call Her Daddy, and HBO Sports executive Peter Nelson has continued throughout the past week. On Friday night, Alexandra Cooper announced in a lengthy YouTube video that she had decided to take Portnoy’s deal. The first episode where she will do the podcast without her former co-host Sofia Franklyn will be Wednesday night. Here was her explanation of what went down, which largely squares with what Portnoy said last week, but also fills in some timeline gaps and clarifies her perspective as to what happened between she and her partner:
Cooper started off with the Call Her Daddy origin story. She says she was collecting unemployment and trying to make it as a YouTube vlogger. She and Franklyn launched Call Her Daddy at a friend’s startup, and Portnoy DM’ed Cooper after four episodes. After a few months at Barstool, Cooper got a raise that she did not tell Franklyn about. Cooper explains that there was tension in the sense that Franklyn felt sensitive that Cooper did more of the editing work, and had issues with solo teases for upcoming podcast drops.
Cooper wanted to clear up what she says was a misconception about the duo’s breaking their contracts, saying that their deals with Barstool gave them leeway to renegotiate compensation.
“Sofia and I allowed Peter to essentially take the reins,” Cooper says. “He was telling us all about industry standards — you guys are making way below industry standard.” She says that other people, including NHL players who were privy to gossip about what Barstool’s NHL pod talents made, were telling them they were way underpaid. Thus, she says that Nelson put together a term sheet that had intentionally high demands — $1 million per year guaranteed each, plus IP concerns — so a negotiation would ultimately meet in the middle.
“In a very roundabout way, Dave Portnoy essentially told us to go F ourselves in every single hole possible,” Cooper said.
Negotiations stalled. Cooper says that, a little while later, Nelson “put out feelers” shopping the podcast. They had some offers. Then Cooper and Franklyn set the rooftop meeting with Portnoy where he offered them $500,000 per year guaranteed each, cutting the duration of the contract from 18 to 12 months. There were more merchandise incentives, and Portnoy even offered the Call Her Daddy IP at the end of the year.
This is where the real issues between Cooper and Franklyn arose. Cooper was over the moon about the fact that they’d control the IP, which is exceedingly rare in the industry. According to Cooper, Franklyn’s mind was unchanged, and she still wanted to leave Barstool. This led to a “ghost period” where the duo didn’t communicate back with Portnoy and were not on the same page with each other. Cooper says she wanted Franklyn to accept the deal with Barstool and be 50/50 partners, but that Franklyn was playing “whack-a-mole” in “moving the goalposts” to bigger and bigger numbers. “It just started to get bad because it got all about money,” Cooper said.
Cooper says that for both of them it was like when you disagree with someone, can’t come to an understanding, and just want to shake them. Eventually, Cooper communicated to Franklyn that she was no longer entertaining the option of leaving — which, they wouldn’t have been able too without prolonged litigation from Barstool — and that they had a two-hour phone conversation.
Franklyn thought Cooper was “bulldozing” her into the Barstool deal, while she was fixated on an exit. Franklyn didn’t care nearly as much about the Call Her Daddy IP. The brand and their branded phrases — like gluck gluck (what they call blowjobs) — were much more important than Cooper.
Cooper has assumptions about who leaked the first New York Post story on their drama with Barstool, which published in late April, and believes it was intended to “sabotage” their deal with Barstool by leaking their first contract numbers (without the bonuses they hit or raises).
Cooper asserts that she finally realized a split was inevitable when she got a call from her lawyer at 1 am that Franklyn had hired a new agency — WME — and was presenting a term sheet similar to the one that Portnoy had adamantly refused.
“I was like holy fucking shit, these people are never going to be fucking happy,” Cooper says. “It was all about money. At this point, as much as I wanted Sofia to be a part of this journey with me and take this deal with me, when I got this document this was the exact moment I vividly remember making the decision to pick up the phone and call Dave Portnoy.”
Cooper says she got her own representation “that Peter Nelson didn’t pick for me” and negotiated a deal without Franklyn involved.
Franklyn has not really spoken substantively, but did release an Instagram story last week after Portnoy’s explanation but before Cooper’s.
Franklyn said she wanted to be “partners” with Cooper, not to be like an “employee” for Cooper, who controlled the show.
Portnoy, meanwhile, has been characteristically taking a non-stop victory lap over Nelson. There’s been a relentless barrage of memes and monologues, music mogul Scooter Braun somehow got involved before later recusing himself over the weekend, and it’s an easy bet that Portnoy has a bottle of Ace of Spades with Nelson’s name on it for a later date should Nelson ever experience professional misfortune.
The saga continues…