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In early April, Sydney Raines was at her nanny job, looking after the children she has minded since she was a teenager, when she received a text from a friend asking if she knew Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy.
"They sent me a video and said it was sent to them," Raines, 22, told The Post. "Then I got a text from another friend asking if I was OK. I was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ "
The video in question was a sex tape she had made in July 2020 with Portnoy, while visiting him at his Nantucket, Mass., home. When Raines Googled her own name, the Atlanta resident learned that the video — which showed Portnoy holding a leash attached to a collar around her neck — was plastered all over the Internet.
Getty/Instagram MASSACHUSETTS MAGAZINE APOLOGIZES FOR COVER STORY ON DAVE PORTNOY, COVID FUNDRAISER FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Raines said she doesn’t know how the raunchy footage was leaked, making clear she didn’t do it herself. She texted Portnoy to ask what had happened, but he didn’t know much more than she did.
"I didn’t have a moment of my heart dropping or panic until my mother said we needed to talk. But she ended up being supportive," Raines recalled. "A lot of friends started checking in and Dave reached out multiple times to make sure I was OK."
After the video made headlines, stock prices for Penn National Gaming, which owns a 36 percent stake in Barstool Sports, took a temporary dip. Portnoy brushed it off, saying: "Somebody committing a crime by leaking an old video of sex between two consenting adults seems like a dumb reason for a stock to go down."
As for Raines, the young woman did something almost unheard of the age of cancel culture: She issued an unapologetic response. Instead of collapsing into a teary confessional and wallowing in victimhood, she owned her actions in a statement that she ran by friends and Portnoy before posting to Instagram.
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"I became aware yesterday that a video has surfaced on the internet and yes, that was me," she wrote, adding it was never meant to become public. "Some might not approve of the video content but it was entirely consensual and it’s unfortunate it is no longer private but [Portnoy and I] are still friends with no animosity . . . I won’t label this a mistake since we have both taken responsibility for it."
"I’ve always been really open about my sexuality," she told The Post. "Maybe I don’t care when I should but I really saw it as just a bump in the road. It wasn’t going to ruin me. I feel like people might see me as a victim in that situation, but I haven’t seen myself that way."
She signed off with a show of bravado: "With no apologies, Syd."
Her inbox was flooded with both positive and negative messages. Some accused her of getting paid by Portnoy. She vehemently denies it.
"I haven’t gotten anything from this. It wasn’t about money, it was about my conscience. Nothing much has changed," she said, adding that she has declined offers to strip and be an ambassador for various clothing companies. Her mom even joked that she should start an OnlyFans account.
"She was like, ‘if you are posting these half-naked pictures [on Instagram], you might as well make money from it.’ But she doesn’t know that a lot of girls on [OnlyFans] do porn. My pictures are R-rated, not X-rated. I want to keep it that way."
Raines may have achieved infamy, but she is still a self-proclaimed "country girl."
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