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From Barstool to kitchen table

The New York Post this week brought us the inside story of former Barstool Sports CEO, Erika Ayers Badan, who has now moved on from the role she described as “a heart attack every day”.

Badan is now taking on the top job at “culinary, lifestyle and homeware company” Food52.

Although she was approached by other companies in the areas of media, sports betting and private equity after announcing her departure from Barstool, Badan said she was more than ready to make a change and take on something new.

After sitting at the helm of Barstool for seven years, not only did she want to work in a different industry, she also knew she “wanted to work with women after a decade immersing myself in 18- to 34-year-old males.”

Badan suggested the new role is not too much of a departure from what she knows, however, given her eclectic mix of interests, as she described her own Instagram feed as a “schizophrenic” combination of Barstool personalities, textiles, homeware and DIY accounts.

After leaving behind the stresses of running Barstool, Badan took some time to travel in Rwanda as a “palate cleanser,” she said.

“It was a heart attack every day for nine years,” she said of her old job. “And I go to Africa and the birds are chirping. People smiled easily. I wasn’t on my phone at all. Everything melted away.”

Now refreshed and ready to take on her next challenge, Badan revealed that she has “high expectations and a real appetite for change. I want results.”

We’re sure her former colleagues at Barstool will be wishing her all the best for her new adventure.

Tropica-no more

Elsewhere, The Guardian brought us a heartfelt obituary for one of Las Vegas’ most famous hotels and casinos, the Tropicana.

“Its guests were abruptly asked to leave earlier this month and its gold-domed casino closed – signaling the end of an icon of classic Sin City life where glamor, celebrity and crime seemed to go hand in hand,” the report set out.

From hosting residencies for Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, to setting the scene to a meeting between James Bond and Blomfeld in Diamonds are Forever, the now-shuttered venue has been part of the DNA of Vegas since it opened in 1957.

Other stories of the venue’s rich history abound in this thorough rundown of its past, as the article pays tribute to one of the world’s most famous casinos.

The property has not been without its troubles during that time, of course, having declared bankruptcy in 2008 and changed ownership several times, most recently being sold to Bally’s for $308m in 2022.

“The Trop is obviously iconic, but it is, really, in a lot of ways, economically obsolete,” Bally’s chairman Soo Kim said last year. 

“It literally is part of the glitz and glamor of Vegas, but it hasn’t been that for decades.”

Over the years, the Tropicana attempted to maintain that sheen of glamour, the article says, while also trying to move along with the times.

Throughout the casino’s life, its hometown had evolved “from Sin City glamour to family-friendly destination with giant buffet stations, a water park, flamingoes and a talking parrot to high-end, high-spending destination for lobster, champagne and big-name concerts (Adele, Lady Gaga, U2) and major sporting events,” the author says.

The venue is now set to be demolished in a coordinated series of explosions this October. That eventuality “will be neither tragic or surprising, but a sign of Vegas’s continuing evolution,” says Las Vegas historian Michael Green.

It seems the Tropicana will be fondly remembered for years to come, but for now, the old must make way for the new in Las Vegas.

Gone-tay Porter

The Athletic gave us its view on this week’s biggest scandal in the world of sports betting, namely the lifetime ban handed down to NBA player Jontay Porter following suspected illegal betting and match-fixing activities.

The Toronto Raptors player was given the ban after an NBA investigation found he had disclosed confidential information to sports bettors, and himself wagered on games – both practices, of course, are strictly prohibited under league rules.

According to the article, though, the league should be looking inwards while it tries to place the blame for this scandal.

The author argues that the breakneck speed of sports betting proliferation across the US – aided and abetted by sports leagues themselves – is to blame.

The piece also suggested that Porter is far from the only sports pro involved in such activities, as it suggested: “If the NBA thinks Jontay Porter is the only one of its current employees that’s wagered a buck or two, or $15, or $22,000, on one of its games, whether for or against that employee’s/employees’ teams, that’s a whole ‘nother level of naive.”

Rather, it suggests that such prohibited activity is likely relatively widespread, and that professional sports leagues only have themselves to blame.

While the author agreed with NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s assessment that sports betting should be regulated, and done out in the open instead of hidden behind closed doors, regulation “doesn’t diminish the danger that remains to not just pro sports leagues, but also every college that fields a team, in any sport.

“And the NBA isn’t unilaterally disarming. It continues to associate with gambling companies, and profit from deals with them. It is not illegal, of course, to do so. But it makes the league’s claims about how concerned it is about gambling lose a lot of steam.”

So, while the league has come down on Porter like a ton of bricks, painting him as the villain of the piece, it seems some believe he is, at least in part, a victim.

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