Celebrity Fitness: Why the backlash against Equinox? Perhaps because Stephen Ross is such a rarity

Celebrity Fitness: Why the backlash against Equinox? Perhaps because Stephen Ross is such a rarity

Celebrity Fitness:

As fancy gyms Equinox and SoulCycle continue to face blowback over a Trump fundraiser scheduled by billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross—chairman of the fitness chains’ parent, The Related Companies—an analysis of public campaign-finance data from The Center for Responsive Politics shows it’s quite rare for heads of major corporations to fund President Trump’s campaigns.

Although a 2016 Fortune report found 42% of Fortune 500 CEOs favored Trump over Hillary Clinton for the presidency, a search of the records this week turned up almost none who publicly donated to the president’s campaign. One prominent exception was Sheldon Adelson, head of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire and a well-known Republican donor, and it’s possible that others contributed to Trump indirectly, through donations to political action committees or other groups.

The lack of public support for Trump is probably not surprising, given the never-ending wave of controversies that have surrounded him as long as he’s been in the public eye. In the wake of Trump’s controversial remarks after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, many CEOs even left White House advisory panels to avoid being associated with the president.

Many of Trump’s prominent wealthy backers are from companies arguably less dependent on consumer goodwill—think Robert Mercer, the onetime co-CEO of Long Island hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, or New York real estate mogul Richard LeFrak. Ross’s ties to the luxury gym chains, which are dependent on member goodwill, makes him a bit of an outlier. Another exception is Isaac Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who records show gave substantial donations to the pro-Trump Great America PAC.

Ross is also a backer of celebrity chef David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant empire, and Chang publicly urged him to reconsider the fundraiser.

It’s not the first food business to become ensnared by ties to the president: Last year, consumers threatened to boycott the Nathan’s Famous hot dog chain, after reports that executive chairman Howard Lorber was hosting a Trump fundraiser.

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