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It Was All Worth It

December 8, 2008. First thing I ever blogged. Just a short and simple post I needed to publish so the website would be live. It didn’t always look like that, at one point it was even LESS glamorous, if you can believe it. I started blogging because I was miserable at work, knew that I had the funniest group of friends on the planet that provided me with endless material, and websites like Take A Report and Barstool Boston with Large and Dave writing inspired me to try it out myself. I was in the bathroom one day in my first Hoboken apartment, opened up a MAXIM MAGAZINE (word to Vida Guerra!) and happened to turn to a random page that was introducing the world to a new microblog website called Tumblr. They made blogging as simple as possible. Point, click, write, picture, publish, done. So I used that to begin blogging, I didn’t need to know coding or HTML or web design or anything. I set up “For Sure NOT,” a dumb phrase me and my pals all said instead of the word “no,” and started churning out nonsense during my free time. Tumblr was like Single A.

Eventually I graduated to Wordpress. That was Double A. Cleaned up the formatting a little bit and was able to make it look like an organized website. Started to actually blog during work hours and it actually started to become a "thing." A small circle of readers started to buzz about it a little bit. 

Then I had a few of those random readers - all friends of friends - help me buy a domain, design the website, and a comments section, and get this little hobby off the ground. My buddy Chris Hanson taught me how to code Disqus comments into my blogs so that people could comment and create a username and give feedback and be a part of the FSN community. A dude who went by "WeeW" designed me a new logo, the wax stamp thingy. I announced a new look website to the 1,000 people reading me daily:

That was Triple A. 

In a quick 8 months Dave noticed my writing, took a chance on me and Keith, and we got called up to the bigs. Barstool New York was off and running. My last FSN post in August of 2009: 

My friends rallied around me. Guys who thought I just had a weird hobby or an online diary quickly realized it was much more than that. I'd like to say they saw the potential for me and wanted to help me achieve my dream but I think they were just in it for free beer from bar owners and hopefully some attention from girls. T Walsh, GP, VJC, P Mac, E Ragg J Klee C bo- all these commenter monickers - would run around Manhattan with me handing out Barstool business cards. We used to do the "lick and stick" where we slapped cards on the windshields of cars or we left them on urinals at bars. The machine started churning, the blog started growing, and Barstool New York had arrived.

We made it to the Show. To the Majors. 

Except it wasnt really all that. Definitely wasnt glamorous. 25k a year, under the table, assuming Dave remembered to pay us that month, but full freedom to write whatever we wanted. I secretly juggled a cube monkey job while blogging for 2 years, before finally making the full jump to a full time blogger. There were no guarantees or assurances. Matter of fact I really didn’t think it was gonna work. I remember thinking, at best this is a steady job that wont pay well but will give me peace of mind, at worst I go back to the cube in 12 months. I thought part B was the more likely outcome. 

But it wasnt. Despite ENDLESS moments when it should have been. From day 2 on the job when my office website filter blocked me from accessing my own website, to a $100 million dollar lawsuit because I called a guy a pedophile, there was so many steps along the way where I was like, welp, cuncel. And now 12 years later we all built a half a billion dollar company. I gave everything I had for Barstool Sports. I mean that quite literally, and in some ways regrettably. I gave every. single. thing. This job consumed me - in some ways intentionally and some ways unintentionally. As it did all of the main guys who have been around since day 1 or 2. It led me down a path that was amazing and incomparable to any other life I could have lived. The fun, the money, the freedom, the ability to express myself, the chance to connect with people all over the world, the chance to help people through tough times, the chance to laugh my way through life...all that corny shit. But it also got in the way big time of the life I was trying to live and the life I thought I was going to live. I was hell bent on being normal and living a normal life on a normal timeline and under normal circumstances and I realize now I should have had a little more faith in us. I should have had a little more foresight to realize that we actually were going to the moon and made decisions accordingly. I'm so pessimistic and self deprecating and filled with self doubt that I was sitting on a rocket ship and thought I was still riding in my Fiat (shout out to the Fiat!!! it was only 99 bucks a month to park that thing in the middle of MANHATTAN. NINETY NINE! Make fun of me all you want that was MONEY.)

I could have and should have handled things differently. But I really, truly, genuinely never thought about the future and envisioned this. So I made choices and lived in such a way that really was not realistic for the trajectory my career was taking.

But it got to the point where the rise of Barstool was undeniable - this company had led to my biggest individual successes in life. But it also contributed to the biggest failure of my life. When everything fell apart, I knew I had no choice but to make this job work. This opportunity turned out to be a gift and a curse in a lot of ways and once it contributed to the downfall of my personal life, I absolutely had to make sure it worked out professionally. My legacy as a husband was shot but my story as a father and a blogger was still being written...and if I didnt end up making it, then all that pain and turmoil was going to truly be for nothing. 

As I write this today, January 29, 2020, on my balcony of my Miami hotel, just hours removed from the announcement that Barstool Sports sold for $450 million, I hope to God I can say I 'made it'. I will never say "it was worth it" despite the title of this blog. I titled it that for the dramatics but honestly I could never tell you that with a straight face. No amount of money or professional success can make up for what transpired. Theres no price tag on something like that. But I can confidently say that at least it wasnt all for nothing. At least this didnt crash and burn too. I made enormous sacrifices along the way, countless mistakes, good moves and bad moves, and at the very least I can say that it paid off in some regard. 

I dont know what the scoreboard or the ledger will read when its a wrap for your boy KFC. You cant judge a story until you see the end of it. But all I do know right now is my kids will come out of school debt free, their weddings are paid for, and I'm gonna buy them their first houses. I can take care of Feits and BC. Hopefully get my parents out of their apartment in the Bronx. (Maybe not I'll be honest I dont know how much money I'm getting and how much that will all cost. In my head I just purchased a house for like everyone I know. I probably wont even be CLOSE to doing that hahaha.) I can at least be proud of that accomplishment. I dont know what else will come in the next few years and subsequent decades, but I do know I'm alive (something we all thought about this week) and I can lay my head down at night knowing I can completely provide for the important people in my life. 

And I have to thank the readers at home for that blessing. Apropos that I got back into blogging right before this was announced. I had no idea it was coming, but it just felt like the right time to get back to what I started with. So its rather fitting that as I came full circle, we reached this (first) finish line. I appreciate everyone who read over the years, then transitioned to listening, and watching videos, and then following on social media, and now reading again. I unconditionally love all the true fans that supported me for 12 straight years, through thick and thin. I even love the people who didnt stick by me during those "thin" years. The people who talked shit and hated and tried to stop me reminded me that I HAD to succeed at this blogging thing. I love the "Team KFC" guys in the office - they are a small but loyal bunch. You know who you are. And I gotta thank the most anti-Team KFC but simultaneously biggest Team KFC guy there is - Dave Portnoy. After all, he gave me this life:

I dunno if thats a good thing or a bad thing. When I'm headed off in a pine box, we'll know whether him giving me that life was worth it or not. But right now, I'm hopeful it will be.