How Steve Bannon made his fortune from “Seinfeld” reruns

Oh, the irony.
Oh, the irony.
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
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What do Steve Bannon—president-elect Donald Trump’s controversial new chief strategist—and Jerry Seinfeld have in common?

Before he was preparing for a move to the White House and became an alt-right media mogul, Bannon was an investment banker. And his firm, Bannon & Co., helped negotiate the sale of Seinfeld producer Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner in the 1990s, Bloomberg reported. Turner reportedly didn’t have the cash when the time came to close the deal with Bannon’s client, Westinghouse Electric, which was unloading the production house. But Bannon urged Westinghouse to take it anyway. “You ought to take this deal. It’s a great deal,” Bannon said he told Westinghouse—sounding a lot like his future boss.

Westinghouse thought Bannon ought to put his money where his mouth was. They convinced him to swap part of his advisor’s fee for a stake in five TV shows in production at the time, including Seinfeld, which was then in its third season. “We calculated what it would get us if it made it to syndication,” Bannon told Bloomberg. “We were wrong by a factor of five.”

Bannon did not reveal how much of a stake he got. But the Financial Times has estimated (paywall) that Seinfeld has generated $3.1 billion from its reruns by 2013 and if Bannon owned just 1% of that…

That the elites-hater whom critics have accused of being an anti-Semitic white nationalist has made much of his money partly off of the work of Jerry Seinfeld (who happens to be a Jewish New Yorker) sounds like one of the famously convoluted subplots of the classic sitcom. But Seinfeld star Jason Alexander, for one, has failed to see the humor in this revelation.