SoulCycle developer defends Trump fundraiser after backlash

The developer behind fitness chains SoulCycle and Equinox defended his decision to hold a fundraiser for President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE amid backlash and calls for boycotts of his boutique gyms. 

In his statement, Ross said he is a “champion” of equality and diversity. 

“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,” Stephen Ross, the founder and chairman of The Related Companies, said in a statement Wednesday shared with BuzzFeed News.

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“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,” he said. 

Ross is hosting a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection campaign in the Hamptons later this week. 

High-profile clients, including stars such as model Chrissy Teigen and comedian Billy Eichner, have called for boycotts of the fitness facilities. 

SoulCycle and Equinox on Wednesday released statements distancing themselves from their parent company’s founder, calling him a “passive investor.” 

“We want to let you know that Equinox and SoulCycle have nothing to do with the event and do not support it,” Equinox said in a statement. 

“We believe in tolerance and equality, and will always stay true to those values.”

The Washington Post reported tickets for the luncheon are priced at $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch, and attendees can pay $250,000 to be included in a roundtable discussion. 

The Related Companies also invested in the Milk Bar and Momofuku restaurant chain.