“I’ve known President Trump for a long time,” Ross said. “I’ve known him and I’ve liked him. I don’t agree with a lot of his policies. I believe there’s a lot of good and I believe there’s a lot of bad.”
Ross said he’s a strong believer in combating climate change, an issue to which Trump stands firmly on the opposite end of the spectrum. Ross added that he supports the president’s business policies with China and the United States’ pre-pandemic unemployment rates.
But, in perhaps the biggest understatement of the interview, Ross said of Trump: “I think he’s been a little divisive.”
When news surfaced that Ross would host the Trump fundraiser, wide receiver Kenny Stills, who was traded from the Dolphins to the Houston Texans weeks later, spoke out. Ross founded the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) in 2015 as a way to fight social and racial inequality. Yet his party, which cost as much as $250,000 for admission, was one of two Hamptons fundraisers that raked in $12 million for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
“You can’t have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills tweeted at the time.
“Someone has to have enough courage to let him know he can’t play both sides of this,” Stills said after a preseason game days later. “It’s something that I can look back on and say I made the right decision. … If you’re going to associate yourself with bad people, then people are going to know about it. I put it out there for everybody to see it. If you say you’re going to be about something, let’s be about it.”
Ross provided a statement to The Washington Post shortly after Stills’s tweet, which read, in part, “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we may agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions."
Stills and Ross eventually discussed their divergent feelings about the fundraiser, with the wideout saying, “we agreed to disagree.”
Regarding the fundraiser, Ross told the New York Times, “I was looking for certain things to benefit New York.” He said that, had he foreseen the backlash from the event, he would have thought about it — but not necessarily done anything — differently.
“I mean, here I am being called a racist when I’ve set up and spent more money as an individual in dealing with racism than anybody in the country, and I was ahead of the game,” Ross said. “But you know what? The best thing is to keep your mouth shut. You go about your business because that’s what matters.
“Seeing how it’s impacted my business partners, of course I would have to look at it differently,” Ross said. “But I never complained. It happened. It’s unfortunate. It caused a lot of problems for my business partners and everything. A lot of money was lost from people who were complaining about me. It makes me feel terrible. But I know who I am and I will continue fighting for those causes that I believe need to be dealt with. I will fight for climate control. I will fight against racism. I’m probably the biggest advocate in the country on both of them.”
Despite the attention the fundraiser and his relationship with Trump has received, Ross, who founded SoulCycle and Equinox, won’t say what box he’ll check on the ballot when Nov. 3 rolls around.
“I haven’t really made a decision who I’m voting for,” Ross said.
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