New York real estate mogul Stephen Ross is catching heat for planning to host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign.
What We Know:
- The Washington Post first reported Ross’ fundraiser plans on Tuesday. Ross is scheduled to host two Trump 2020 Hampton’s fundraising events this Friday that have tickets costing up to $250,000, one of which will take place in his private home. The news of this fundraiser faced immediate public backlash; people have taken to social media to encourage their friends to cancel their memberships or even quit their jobs at the gyms using the hashtag #BoycottEquinox and #Boycottsoulcycle.
Celebrities are canceling their memberships at Equinox and SoulCycle after the chairman of the parent company of the luxury fitness brands announced he will be hosting a Trump fundraiser. https://t.co/PXOYkc8xe4 pic.twitter.com/pCYsUYb7wC
— CNBC (@CNBC) August 9, 2019
Adios, Equinox. It's been great and your Westlake Village club is beautiful, but I won't let my money support racism and misogyny. pic.twitter.com/B0DIaSk24I
— Matt Singley (@mattsingley) August 7, 2019
- Members and even the companies themselves have also taken to more organized collective action; Members of Equinox gyms in LA have organized a protest at the Sunset Boulevard Equinox location for Friday and both Equinox and Soulcycle have released statements in response to the fundraiser distancing themselves from Ross. “We believe in diversity, inclusion, and equality…We’re committed to all our riders and the communities we live in,” CEO Melanie Whelan wrote in SoulCycle’s statement. Many people doubt these claims that Ross is not involved in the management of the two companies given he is the founder of their parent company, not simply an investor.
- Ross is the founder and chairman of Related Companies, the parent company of Equinox and Soulcycle, and the majority owner of the Miami Dolphins. He himself released a statement defending his political activism explaining that his business ambitions have always been tied to politics and that he is a friend of Trump’s with some dissenting political opinions. “I have been, and will continue to be, 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,” Ross said.
Statement from Stephen Ross: pic.twitter.com/nvn3pmAPVE
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 7, 2019
- Other gyms have started offering discounts related to the controversy to help Equinox members switch gyms; New York’s BUF fitness studio is offering new clients $200 to use for Equinox cancellation fees in either cash or fitness classes. The New York Sports Club is offering a “Switch and Save” promotion under the slogan “Commit to something better,” making fun of the Equinox slogan “Commit to something.” Other studios and workout instructors are donating class revenue to causes neglected by Trump.
Clients’ frustration lies primarily in both gyms’ efforts to brand themselves as allies of the LGBTQ community; Trump has consistently ignored and even targeted the LGBTQ community by banning transgender troops and opposing the Equality Act.