Since his appointment as one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top advisers, Steve Bannon has been under intense fire from critics, who have accused him of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism.
So it may seem a little weird, but Bannon may have actually made millions thanks to the talents of one of the most famous Jewish entertainers in the country: Jerry Seinfeld.
How exactly does that work?
Well, before Bannon served as CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign, before he ran the alt-right website Breitbart.com, he was an investment banker working at Goldman Sachs.
As a banker, Bannon ran his own firm, Bannon and Co., under Goldman Sachs, according to Bloomberg. In the early 1990s, Bannon’s firm negotiated a deal between their client, Westinghouse Electric, and Ted Turner for the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment.
At the time, ‘Seinfeld,’ which was produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, was in its third season and nowhere near the behemoth it would later become.
But when the time came for the deal to be finalized, Turner did not have all the money needed to complete the sale. Bannon convinced Westinghouse Electric to stay with the deal, however, by personally committing to surrender part of the firm’s fee in exchange for ownership rights over several television shows.
And just like that, Bannon and his company snagged partial ownership of one of the most profitable TV shows of all time. In 2013, the International Business Times estimated that the show had made $3.1 billion since its cancellation in syndication fees, DVD sales and other rights.
So unless Bannon’s overall stake in ‘Seinfeld’ is less than one-tenth of one percent, the show has made him millions.
“We calculated what it would get us if it made it to syndication,” Bannon told Bloomberg. “We were wrong by a factor of five.”
After that deal, Bannon went on to quit his firm and become a film producer and media mogul, transforming himself into one of the most influential people among American conservatives.
The fact that ‘Seinfeld’ then contributed, albeit very indirectly, to Donald Trump’s election, is a sad joke to some. One of the show’s stars, Jason Alexander, tweeted about the irony.
And director and producer Rob Reiner, who helped to found Castle Rock Entertainment, told The Daily Beast it make him “sick” to know that Bannon has profited from the show’s success.