Erika Nardini is Barstool Sports’ first CEO. In six years, she’s proven that she is the right woman for the job. Since joining the small sports blog in 2016, she has turned it into a multi-industry brand and digital media company.
So, who is Erika Nardini? Here are 10 interesting facts about the Barstool CEO:
Erika Nardini has an impressive resume with experience that spans nearly two decades. She began her career as media manager for Fidelity Investments. During her time at Fidelity, she oversaw all broadcast, print and interactive media planning and buying. Nardini established and launched Fidelity’s first digital planning practice in the late 90s. Her previous positions include executive marketing roles for Microsoft and Yahoo! From 2013 to 2015. Nardini was named chief marketing officer of AOL where she developed the company’s entire marketing solutions operation. Before Barstool Sports, Nardini was president and chief revenue officer for Bkstg, a platform that facilitated direct relationships between musicians and fans.
‘Token CEO’ Podcast
You would think Nardini would have a full plate being Barstool’s CEO and while she probably does, she finds the time to host her own podcast called “Token CEO.” The podcast is described as “an explicit business podcast for people without a business degree.” With over 280 episodes, “Token CEO” takes listeners through Erika’s life as she covers current news and business strategy. Listeners can also catch a glimpse of what’s going on at Barstool HQ. Nardini is often joined by weekly guests from entrepreneurs to Barstool staff members.
Nardini joined the World Wrestling Entertainment board in 2020, four years after becoming CEO of Barstool Sports. However, her time on the WWE board was short-lived and she had to depart with the WWE two years after joining. Her decision to leave the WWE was due to Penn National Gaming acquiring all of Barstool. In short, Nardini had to shift her focus on “building out the next phase of the combined businesses” after the Penn acquisition became official.
‘Stoolie’ to CEO
Erilka Nardini became CEO of Barstool Sports in 2016 after Dave Portnoy sold a major equity stake to investment firm Chernin Group. Before stepping into the role of CEO, Erika was a long-time ‘stoolie.’ If it wasn’t obvious, ‘stoolie’ refers to fans of the Barstool website. She told Fortune, “I’ve been hugely passionate about the site for a long time.”
Big Changes For Barstool Sports
Most of Barstool’s growth in recent years can be attributed to Erika. She has grown Barstool from a small sports website to a multi-industry brand. If we’re talking numbers, Nardini boosted a 3,900% increase in overall revenue and boosted follower counts across social media by 5,700%. She orchestrated the strategic partnership with Penn National Gaming and built Barstool Sportsbook, the most prominent online gaming company in the U.S. As CEO, she has launched more than 60 brands including the world’s #1 sports podcast, #1 golf podcast and #1 hockey podcast. Stoolies can look forward to what she’ll do in another five years.
Big L.L. Bean Fan
Erika is a huge fan of retail company L.L Bean. On her own “Token CEO” podcast she claims that she is the “biggest L.L Bean fan. Ever.” She also admitted that she wears the brand every day and that she is “loyal to L.L. Bean as it gets.” According to Money Inc., Nardini has a large collection of L.L Bean tote bags and spends her time off adding to her large collection.
Work Hard Play Hard
Part of being a successful CEO is having a strong work ethic, a notion that Nardnini’s parents instilled in her from an early age. Erika’s parents were teachers and though she didn’t have much, she learned that if she wanted something she had to work for it. Erika told Forbes, “If I worked hard I would make money. If I had money, I could do what I want. And I liked that and I still do.”
Award Winning CEO
If Erika’s experience wasn’t enough, her awards certainly prove that her success is something to be celebrated. Nardini has won several awards over the years such as the 2004 Echo Award for Royal Caribbean and named one of MediaPost Magazine’s Top 20 Rising Media Stars. In 2006, she won Google’s Marketing Machine Award. A year later, she received the Gold Award for Nokia “New Year’s Eve” in 2007. In 2014, Nardini won the Advertising Hall of Achievement Class of 2014.
Her CEO Role Was Controversial
Since becoming CEO of Barstool Sports in 2016, Erika has been called “one of the most controversial women in sports media.” The announcement of her new role came as a shock to many because she was a woman overseeing a male-dominated website that stirred controversy over its misogynistic comments from its fans and founder Dave Portnoy. Above all of the controversy, Nardini maintains that Barstool Sports is one of the least sexist companies she has ever worked for.
She Prefers to Keep Her Life Private
Erika’s career endeavors are out there for everyone to see but when it comes to her private life, she prefers to keep a low profile. What we do know is that she is married and has two young sons. In 2021, there were rumors that she and her husband separated due to an alleged affair Nardini had with her squash coach. Despite the buzz, Erika has managed to keep details of her private life under wraps since then.