Stephen Ross, the billionaire real estate developer who owns Equinox Fitness and the Miami Dolphins, is facing a fierce backlash over a fundraiser for President Trump he is hosting Friday. Celebrities are leading calls for a boycott of Equinox and associated businesses SoulCycle and Blink Fitness over the fundraiser luncheon at his Long Island home, where guests will pay up to $100,000 for a picture with Trump and $250,000 to sit in on a private roundtable discussion, CNN reports. "Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it," a spokeswoman for the fitness chains said in a statement, per the AP. She described Ross as "a passive investor" not involved in the management of either business and said the chains "believe in tolerance and equality."
Ross tells CNN he has "always been an active participant in the democratic process." "I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions, he says, adding: "I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education, and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges." The Ross fundraiser is one of two that Trump, who decried the influence of wealthy donors in the 2016, will attend in the Hamptons on Friday, the Washington Post reports. The second will be a reception at the estate of real estate developer Joe Farrell. Tickets start at $5,600 per couple for the reception, rising to $11,200 for a VIP reception and $35,000 for a photo-op. (Read more Stephen Ross stories.)