Fact Check: 'Struggling Bar Owner' in Biden Ad Is Actually a Wealthy Tech CEO Who Supports Lockdown


A Michigan man portrayed as a struggling bar owner in a new ad for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is actually a wealthy venture capitalist and Democratic Party contributor, according to numerous reports.

The Biden campaign aired an ad on CBS during Sunday’s football games that showed the proprietor of a Michigan bar lamenting the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on his business.

Rather than blame the downturn of customer traffic on China, the source of the virus, or on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s months-long, draconian lockdown measures, he claims President Donald Trump is responsible for his supposedly desperate economic situation.

“For 50 years, the Blind Pig has been open and crowded, but right now it’s an empty room,” Blind Pig co-owner Joe Malcoun said in the Biden ad, which appears to have since been removed from YouTube.

On the state of the popular Ann Arbor bar and music venue, Malcoun said, “This is the reality of Trump’s COVID response.”

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“We don’t know how much longer we can survive not having any revenue,” the purportedly downtrodden bar proprietor lamented.

“A lot of restaurants and bars that have been mainstays for years will not make it through this,” he said.

“This is Donald Trump’s economy. There’s no plan, you don’t know how to move forward. It makes me so angry.

“My only hope for my family and this business and my community is that Joe Biden wins this election. That’s the kind of person we need.”

According to a Fox News report, though, the down-and-out bar owner is actually a wealthy Democratic activist.

Malcoun is also a supporter of Whitmer, who last week had her stringent lockdown orders overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court, as is evident by a tweet he posted in April. Malcoun has since made his account private.

“White men with fragile egos will always be intimidated by smart powerful woman. And they should be,” he wrote, disregarding the fact that other business owners in the state were struggling under Whitmer’s orders and some residents were denied routine doctor appointments.

The man might be part owner of the Ann Arbor bar, but apparently he has no reason to be worried about his finances.

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Malcoun financially backs tech companies as an “angel investor,” according to Fox News.

He inherited a fortune from his wife’s grandfather, an inheritance he referred to as “winning the lottery,” the report said.

In a 2018 interview with Click On Detroit, Malcoun divulged that he invests in Michigan tech companies.

He has also served as the CEO of the venture capital firm Nutshell since 2014, raising millions of dollars in angel and venture capital, according to his Crain’s Detroit Business 40 under 40 profile.

In an interview with MLive in June, Malcoun explained that he was open to voluntarily canceling live music events at the Blind Pig.

“We were kind of dipping our toe in the water and we decided we would have some shows we knew were not going to be big,” he told the outlet.

“There weren’t a lot of people showing up, which is frankly what we wanted and expected. The real struggle was … folks talking about what we were doing.”

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Malcoun said, “No matter what precautions we take or whether or not we’re doing the legal thing, if we can’t communicate to the community the main intention of being safe, it’s not worth it.”

While his inherited wealth apparently has given him the luxury of being able to survive the lockdown, other businesses in Michigan are not so fortunate.

Malcoun, who was chosen to play the role of struggling business owner in the Biden ad, donated a total of $5,000 to the Biden campaign in July and previously donated to numerous other Democratic causes, according to the Federal Election Commission.

UPDATE, Oct. 21, 2020: This article has been updated to note that the Biden campaign appears to have removed the ad from YouTube and that Malcoun has made his Twitter account private.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.