Discussion in 'News - Breaking News & Political Forum' started by Black Ambrosia, Aug 8, 2019.
Billionaire owner of SoulCycle, Miami Dolphins faces backlash over Trump fundraiser
News of an upcoming fundraiser for President Trump at the swanky Hamptons home of billionaire Stephen Ross drew swift backlash Wednesday from prominent customers of Ross’s luxury fitness brands and a player for the Miami Dolphins, the National Football League franchise Ross owns.
Some high-profile LGBTQ activists and celebrities took to social media to call for a boycott of Equinox Fitness clubs and SoulCycle over the fundraiser, which was organized to support Trump’s reelection and comes with a price tag as high as $250,000 for an audience with the president.
“Hey @Equinox - what’s your policy for canceling memberships once a member finds out your owner is enabling racism and mass murder?” comedian Billy Eichner tweeted Wednesday afternoon. He followed up later with a tweet saying he had canceled his membership.
The scheduled fundraiser also caught the attention of Miami Dolphins wide receiver and Trump critic Kenny Stills. In a tweet, Stills questioned how Ross could justify his support for Trump when his nonprofit organization, Ross Initiative for Sports Equality, aspires as part of its mission to end racial discrimination.
“You can’t have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills tweeted.
UPDATE: Equinox Disavows Trump-Supporting Owner, Following Backlash
"Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it."
Ross, a New York real estate developer, is the chairman and founder of the Related Companies, which encompasses fitness, restaurant and lifestyle brands such as Equinox, SoulCycle, Pure Yoga, &pizza, Bluestone Lane Coffee and Momofuku. He has given heavily over the years to Republican candidates and committees.
In a statement Wednesday to The Washington Post, Ross said he has known Trump for 40 years and that he has “never been bashful about expressing” opinions about issues on which he disagrees with Trump.
Ross said he is “an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.”
In a joint statement Wednesday, Equinox and SoulCycle said they do not support the fundraiser and played down Ross’s role with the brands.
“As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians,” the companies said. “We are committed to all our members and the communities we live in. We believe in tolerance and equality, and will always stay true to those values. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business.”
SoulCyle also issued its own statement, saying it “in no way endorses the political fundraising event being held later this week.”
Equinox has publicly branded itself as an LGBTQ-friendly company, and Pure Yoga is popular in the LGBTQ community.
“We joined this gym because we believed it shared our values. We believed it was a safe space for people like us,” reads a Change.org petition calling on Ross to cancel the fundraiser. “We believed that we were supporting a company that was inclusive, accepting and celebrating our diversity and supporting our physical and mental health as a community.”
Stephen Ross is the majority owner of the parent company of Equinox gyms. He is holding a big Trump fundraiser. Know where your money is going. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-scheduled-to-headline-fundraisers-in-the-hamptons-where-tickets-run-as-high-as-250000/2019/08/06/47698530-b855-11e9-a091-6a96e67d9cce_story.html …
Trump scheduled to headline fundraisers in the Hamptons, where tickets run as high as $250,000
The fundraiser comes amid heightened attention to Trump’s rhetoric on minorities and immigrants. Trump faced protests Wednesday during visits to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, in the wake of mass shootings in those cities.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump pledged to be a “real friend” of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, and he has cast himself as a pro-LGBTQ president. But his administration has rolled back multiple protections for the gay community. His administration reinstated the ban on transgender troops and opposed federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination bills.
Stills’s reaction to the planned Trump fundraiser could be the latest hurdle for the NFL, which is grappling with its stance toward social issues and its attitude toward a president who has harshly criticized peacefully demonstrating players and called for their firing.
Stills, an ally of political activist and former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has protested racial injustice and economic inequality by kneeling during the national anthem the past three seasons.
The Washington Post on Tuesday first reported the plans for the Friday fundraiser scheduled to take place at the Southampton home of Ross and his wife, Kara, a jewelry designer.
Several senior members of the administration, party and campaign are scheduled to appear, as are some Trump family members, according to invitations obtained by The Post.
But the biggest draw will be Trump. For a $100,000 donation, attendees get a photo with the president in addition to lunch. The costliest $250,000 package includes lunch, a photo and a private roundtable discussion with Trump, the invites show.
Another fundraiser is scheduled for Friday at the Bridgehampton home of Joe Farrell, a New York real estate developer. Tickets for that event are priced at $5,600 per couple to $35,000 per couple.
Money raised at the two fundraisers in the Hamptons will go toward Trump Victory, a fundraising committee for the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee.
On Wednesday, Equinox, its affiliated luxury fitness brands SoulCycle and Pure Yoga, and parent company the Related Companies were added to the #GrabYourWallet list, an online effort to boycott retailers that carry products by the Trump family business or otherwise support Trump.
A Trump fundraiser could be the latest flashpoint between NFL players and owners
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) joins teammates kneeling during the national anthem before a 2016 game. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
An NFL franchise owner’s upcoming fundraiser for President Trump’s reelection campaign could be the latest hurdle for a league still grappling with its stance toward social issues and its attitude toward a president who has harshly criticized peacefully demonstrating players and called for their dismissal.
Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins, is set to host a gathering of Trump supporters Friday in a Southampton, N.Y., mansion, where the price of admission ranges from $5,600 to $250,000, according to invitations obtained by The Washington Post. The costliest tickets offer greater access to Trump.
That caught the attention of Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, a vocal critic of the Trump administration who has protested during the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and social justice issues in recent seasons. On Wednesday, Stills tweeted a photo of the mission statement for the nonprofit Ross Initiative for Sports Equality, questioning how the franchise owner could be committed to eliminating racial discrimination and championing social justice reforms, as the group’s statement proclaims, and to supporting Trump.
“You can’t have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills wrote.
A person close to Ross told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that though Ross supports Trump’s reelection campaign, he disagrees with the president’s views on race.
“They agree on some things and disagree on others, specifically on the rhetoric around race,” the person told the Sun-Sentinel. “With regards to race, Stephen’s record on fighting racism speaks for itself. It is possible to support someone on the basis of some things and not agree with everything about them.”
ESPN published an identical quote, also from “a source close to Ross,” as did the Miami Herald. Ross himself released a statement early Wednesday evening.
Some of Ross’s business holdings felt a backlash Wednesday from opponents of the president. SoulCycle and Equinox, fitness brands whose parent company is chaired by Ross, released statements distancing themselves from the reelection campaign.
SoulCycle and Equinox called Ross a “passive investor” in the companies, and SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan said that company “in no way endorses the political fundraising event being held later this week. SoulCycle has nothing to do with the event and does not support it.”
Other NFL owners have opened their pocketbooks for Trump. NFL owners and the league itself donated more than $7 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, according to Federal Election Commission findings. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, late Houston Texas owner Robert McNair and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson (who left the team to serve as ambassador to the United Kingdom) donated $1 million either themselves or through their organizations.
Players have clashed with owners before over social and political issues, including the demonstrations during the national anthem. Attempting to quash the issue, NFL owners in 2018 passed a proposal to allow players to remain in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but teams could levy fines against players who did not stand for the anthem while on the field.
Ross and the Dolphins told league officials the team would classify any sort of demonstration as “conduct detrimental to the club,” a designation that would enable the team to impose significant penalties.
But the rule drew widespread resistance from players, and the NFL agreed to indefinitely suspend the policy in an agreement with the players’ union, which agreed to drop its grievance against the league in return.
Stills, an ally of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has protested racial injustice and economic inequality by kneeling during the national anthem the past three seasons. He told the Palm Beach Post this week he plans to continue his demonstration this season.
He also has advocated for federal and state firearm restrictions in the wake of mass shootings around the country, including a 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., just 30 miles from the Dolphins’ home stadium.
An Ohio official this week included athletes who kneel during the anthem as among those to blame for mass shootings last weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. Candice Keller, a GOP state representative, also blamed gay people, video games, “drag queen advocates,” Democrats, marijuana and “the culture” for the events that left at least 31 dead and injured dozens more.
The leader of the Ohio Republican Party has called on Keller to resign after her Facebook post
But Stills told the Palm Beach Post this week that he would welcome a conversation with Keller.
“Just hear what she has to say and then, in the kindest way possible, with the most love and the most empathy that I have, try and explain to her why I do what I do,” he said. “And show her pictures and just get her to understand, ‘Hey, everything that I do is about bringing people together and trying to make this country a better place and leave it better than I found it.’
“That’s what I wake up to do every day, and none of the things that she said in that [Facebook post] is making us any better. Just try to encourage her to think about the stuff that she puts out there and understand that hate and fear aren’t going to get us anywhere."
This is all very interesting. I'm familiar with this guy but didn't know of his involvement with Equinox. He's from Detroit and is the namesake of the business school at University of Michigan. He's also the developer behind the massive Hudson Yards project in Manhattan.
I briefly considered joining Equinox but they wanted me to pay for 2 months upfront when they weren't even open yet. I think this was at least six months in advance. I'm glad I didn't do it because I'd be cancelling right now. And they're really expensive.
I got a Equinox membership through work, and when I left that job, I kept the membership as they waived all other kinda fees, however, I always got the feel when I walked in there of What Choo doing here? Cancelling, don't want my coins supporting this..
He's the owner... if I get a membership, it will put money in his pockets. Therefore, what CEO has to say is irrelevant!
Like Peloton, it appears that SoulCycle is going into homes too... buyers, be aware. Thanks OP for this post!
SoulCycle rides up close to Peloton
Updated 7 hours ago
Equinox is teaming up with SoulCycle to launch a new digital venture, which will include a bike, treadmill and workouts for members who want at-home offerings. This puts Equinox in direct competition with Peloton — the pioneers in what has become a crowded luxury home-fitness market. According to Fast Company, roughly 16% in the U.S. have gym memberships, while the 54% of Americans who work out at least once a month are interested in buying an at-home fitness system
Chief Commercial Officer / Digital, Marketing, and Television Executive
VERY EXCITED to announce the launch of SoulCycle's at-home digital experience and bike! Fifteen months ago, we set out to build a media division from scratch at this absolutely incredible brand. We created an ambitious strategy, detailed a plan, and worked that plan hard — producing an immersive concert series, exclusive music on Apple, SoulCycle Radio on Sirius (premiering this month!), a music-based metrics app, silent disco rides in Cannes, and so much more. But this — THIS — is our big confidential project! And it's only the beginning as we team up with Equinox to create an all-new digital platform that will feature SOUL alongside other best-in-class brands. To everyone who has worked hard to build this, to our incredible community who's been waiting for this, thank you! hashtag#soulcycle