President Trump on Friday dismissed the calls for a boycott of SoulCycle and Equinox, luxury exercise chains owned by a conglomerate whose chairman was hosting a lucrative fundraiser for the president’s reelection.
Trump spoke to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he was leaving to attend the closed-door luncheon at the Southampton, N.Y., home of Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins and chairman of the Related Cos., the parent company of SoulCycle and Equinox.
News of the fundraiser spurred a backlash on social media, with some high-profile activists and celebrities, including Chrissy Teigen and Billy Eichner, urging customers to boycott the chains.
“Stephen Ross is a great friend of mine,” Trump said in response to a question about the boycott. “He’s a very successful guy. We were competitors but friends in real estate in New York in the old days. He’s a great guy. He is, by the way, probably more inclined to be a liberal, if you want to know the truth. But he likes me.”
Trump added that he was told tickets for the luncheon, which ranged from $100,000 to $250,000, were “totally sold out.”
On Wednesday, as the backlash surrounding the event intensified, Ross released a statement saying, “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others, and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”
Both Equinox and SoulCycle released statements distancing the companies from the event and Ross himself.
“SoulCycle in no way endorses the political fundraising event being held later this week,” SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan said, adding: “Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of SoulCycle.”
Trump, for his part, thought the controversy was a good thing for his friend.
“I think it makes Steve much hotter,” he said. “The controversy makes Steve Ross hotter.”
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