Erika Ayers Badan, who has been the chief executive of Barstool Sports for nearly eight years, recently announced her decision to step down from the role. Before joining Barstool as CEO in July 2016, Ayers Badan held senior positions at companies such as Bkstg, AOL, Demand Media, and Yahoo.
In her blog post confirming her departure, Ayers Badan did not disclose whether Barstool already has a replacement lined up. She expressed her profound gratitude for her time at Barstool, acknowledging the company’s growth and success during her tenure. She credited the mission to be authentic, unapologetic, and constantly growing as the driving force behind Barstool’s achievements.
Ayers Badan also praised Barstool founder David Portnoy, with whom she had worked closely during her time at the company. She emphasized how working with Portnoy for almost a decade had profoundly impacted her and expressed her confidence in his ability to ensure the long-term success of Barstool.
The news of Ayers Badan’s departure comes just months after a significant development in the Barstool story. After Penn Entertainment purchased the Barstool brand in 2020 and operated sportsbooks under its name, the company struck up a new partnership with ESPN, marking the entrance of the Disney-owned network into the sports betting sector.
As a result, Penn ultimately sold the Barstool brand back to Portnoy for a symbolic $1, leading to a substantial loss for Penn. However, the company sees its partnership with ESPN as a significant opportunity for long-term growth. The existing Barstool sportsbooks have since been relaunched under the new ESPN Bet brand.
Mike Morrison, ESPN’s vice-president of sports betting, views the launch of ESPN Bet as a natural evolution for the sports broadcaster. The move further solidifies ESPN’s foray into the sports betting market, indicating a significant shift in the industry landscape.
Overall, Ayers Badan’s announcement of her departure from Barstool Sports coincides with a period of considerable change and growth within the company, as well as in the broader sports betting industry.