Portnoy populism

As the retweets started rolling in, one blue-checkmark sensed an opportunity. Marcus Lemonis from The Profit on CNBC, told Dave that he would put up $500,000 if the Barstool founder would match it. Portnoy agreed and the relief fund was born. No task force, no czar, no blue-ribbon commission.

If only Dave had gone to Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi with his idea, surely they would have gladly overcomplicated things for him. But he insisted on doing it without their expertise.

The result is an indisputable success.

The fund has already helped 194 businesses — restaurants, diners, bakeries, hair salons, record stores, child care centers, dry cleaners and boutiques.

The donations are impressive. The FaceTime calls between Portnoy and the flabbergasted small-business owners are profoundly moving. The recipients, often people who have inherited their businesses from their parents, are sometimes speechless when they realize their application has been accepted. In the videos, plenty of the business owners break down in tears while trying to express their gratitude for the much-needed aid.