"Shark Tank" Star Daymond John Calls Restraining Order Against Contestant "Vindication"
Daymond John has been granted a permanent restraining order against the founder of a barbecue business.
Viewers tune into Shark Tank to see whether entrepreneurs will strike deals with wealthy investors that could make their businesses successful and change their lives. But, fans generally don't get to see what happens afterwards, including the small print of those deals and the business relationships contestants form with the shark who chooses them. These collaborations don't always turn out for the best, as the current legal situation involving Shark Tank star Daymond John and contestant Al "Bubba" Baker, who appeared on the show in 2013.
John was just granted a permanent restraining order against Baker when a judge agreed that the barbecue business owner and his family caused John "incalculable" harm with their comments to the press and posts on social media trashing the investor. Read on to find out how their relationship soured and what the restraining order means for the future.
Baker appeared on Shark Tank 10 years ago.
Baker met John when he presented his business on Season 5 of Shark Tank in 2013. He founded Bubba's Q Boneless Baby Back Ribs after opening the restaurant Bubba's Q in Avon, Ohio. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, John invested $300,000 for a 30 percent share of the company. This was contingent on Baker finding a licensing deal with a meat processing company.
The company seemed on the road to success at first. In 2017, Delish reported that it had $16 million in sales and was sold in stores, on QVC, and at Yankee Stadium. There was also a deal with fast food chain Carl's Jr.
"You can't even put a number on what he's done for the company," Baker's daughter Brittani Bo Baker told Delish of John. "He's become more like family than a partner. Anything we need, he's there, no questions asked."
Baker, a former NFL player, told the publication, "My daughter and I are huge dreamers. We all believe that anything is possible if you believe. And we believe."
They later claimed that John took advantage of them.
In May 2023, Baker and Brittani told a much different story to the Los Angeles Times. They claimed that they had only received $659,653—four percent of their business' publicized revenue. They also claimed that John and his associates tried to take over their business and withhold money from them. The father and daughter said that their deal with John was altered from what was presented on-air, which the article explains isn't uncommon. They called the experience "a nightmare." Baker said he closed his restaurant, had to sell his home, and had his vehicle repossessed.
"I have reconciled with it, and I don't care what this looks like," Baker told the newspaper. "I care about the truth. And a lot of why I was being quiet was because I looked like a stupid fool character. I'm past that. And I'm concerned about other people coming along with their American dream having this happen to them."
John defended himself in the article. "No matter how disappointed, frustrated or insulted I may feel about a person or company, I signed up and remain on Shark Tank to uplift people and give them a shot that I never had," the 54-year-old said. He also claimed that Baker made "significant revenue through the history of the venture. We did not and have not."
The article references past lawsuits that have been brought against John and his companies, to which he responded, "[I]n the 30+ years I have been in business, there is not one lawsuit that I have been involved in where I have been found guilty or culpable of anything."
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A judge granted John's request for a restraining order.
On July 24, USA Today reported that John had been granted a permanent restraining order against Baker, Brittani, and Baker's wife, Sabrina Baker, from making disparaging comments about him in the press and on social media.
Judge Robert B. Kugler of the New Jersey District Court wrote in documents obtained by USA Today that the Bakers waged a "social media and news media war" against John and caused "irreparable" harm to his reputation.
Kugler called the Bakers' actions an "unmitigated, calculated, and virulent attack on John and his reputation is, as we said in our original order granting temporary injunctive relief, unusual in its vehemence and persistence." The statement continues, "The amount of reputational harm that Defendants' posts, which have received millions of views and include at least two interviews with major news outlets, have caused is incalculable."
The Bakers were ordered to take down negative social media posts about John and are forbidden to make any additional disparaging comments about the FUBU founder.
John is pleased with the outcome.
Previously, when John was granted a temporary restraining order, Kugler ruled that the Bakers weren't to speak out about him following a 2019 settlement. As reported by People, at that time they agreed to not disparage John or another company involved in their business, Rastelli Foods Group. The LA Times reported that Rastelli Foods Group had sued the Bakers regarding the business, and the case was settled.
Now, John is pleased that the permanent restraining order has been issued. In a statement to USA Today, he said that the "decision against the Bakers, their company, and their false statements is a moment of vindication … The actual facts, the record and the federal Judge's opinion have confirmed that I did not—and could not have—committed any wrongdoing."
Best Life reached out to Baker and Brittani, who declined to comment.