How Steve Bannon Made a Fortune Off of ‘Seinfeld’

Joe Otterson
The Wrap

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s new chief advisor, became one of the most prominent figures in American media by leading Breitbart, a conservative-leaning news site that critics call sexist, antisemitic, homophobic and racist. He’s less well-known for his unique role in the history of the TV series “Seinfeld.”

Long before he became the chief strategist of Donald Trump’s White House and the executive chairman of Breitbart News, Bannon was an investment banker. After a stint at Goldman Sachs, he launched his own firm, Bannon & Co., in 1990.

Fast forward a few years. Bannon was brought in to help Westinghouse Electric negotiate a minority stake acquisition in Castle Rock Entertainment — the producer of the iconic Jerry Seinfeld comedy — a person familiar with the deal told TheWrap. 

Also Read: 11 Things to Know About Steve Bannon Now That He's White House Bound

“As often happened with Turner, when it came time to actually close the deal, Ted was short of cash,” Bannon told Bloomberg in 2015. “Westinghouse just wanted out. We told them, ‘You ought to take this deal. It’s a great deal.’ And they go, ‘If this is such a great deal, why don’t you defer some of your cash fee and keep an ownership stake in a package of TV rights?'”

And that is exactly what he did. Bannon and his team accepted a stake in the royalties of five shows under the Castle Rock banner, one of which was “Seinfeld,” which was in its third season at the time. Bannon’s involvement with Westinghouse was not disclosed to Castle Rock Parters at the time, who dealt directly with Turner in the 1992 sale.

“We calculated what it would get us if it made it to syndication,” Bannon said. “We were wrong by a factor of five.”

Exactly how much Bannon has earned from his stake in the show is not readily available, but consider this: the Financial Times reported in 2013 that “Seinfeld” had earned $3.1 billion in reruns. Even at one percent, that would mean Bannon & Co. would have made over $31 million since the show went off the air. 

Also Read: Anti-Defamation League Decries Steve Bannon's Appointment to Donald Trump's Administration

Bannon served as the CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and was recently named senior advisor and chief strategist to the Trump administration. He is a highly-regarded figure among the so-called alt-right for his views.

He has also been accused of anti-Semitism, racism and sexism because of a number of headlines published by Breitbart under his leadership. Bannon’s ex-wife has also accused him of making anti-Semitic comments during their marriage, which Bannon has strongly denied.

He also once said progressive women vilify conservative women because they aren’t “a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.”

 

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