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    Vice Media CEO and co-founder Shane Smith

    Vice CEO Throws Down $300K on Lavish Vegas Dinner

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    Vice Media CEO and co-founder Shane Smith, whose billion-dollar company was accused of underpaying its employees earlier this year, spent $300,000 on dinner at a Las Vegas hotel last month.

    MGM Resorts International revealed on an earnings call Tuesday that unidentified guests had enjoyed a $300,000 meal in January.

    On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the guest was Smith, citing an anonymous source who attended the private feast at the Bellagio casino’s Prime Steakhouse.

    MGM spokesman Clark Dumont told Bloomberg in an e-mail that it was a party of 12. But one of the guests at the dinner estimated it to be a party of closer to 25.

    The majority of the bill was spent on wine, with some bottles costing $20,000, Dumont said.

    Smith was in town attending the Consumer Electronics Show, and had a very successful run at the blackjack table prior to the meal.

    David Carr, the New York Times columnist who died unexpectedly last week at age 58, hinted at Smith’s hot hand in a pair of tweets last month.

    “No brainer quiz,” Carr tweeted. “What media co exec did I watch win $100k at blackjack last nite? Hint: gambling not his only vice.”

    Carr and Smith famously clashed when Carr interviewed some Vice execs for the 2011 documentary, “Page One.”

    The legendary New York Times media critic put Smith in his place when Smith criticized the Times for what he thought was a lack of coverage in genocide-stricken areas like Africa.

    “Before you ever went there, we've had reporters there reporting on genocide after genocide,” Carr told Smith. “Just because you put on a f***ing safari helmet and looked at some poop doesn't give you the right to insult what we do.”

    In May, a Gawker report accused Vice of paying its employees lowly wages, citing salary numbers provided by anonymous former Vice staffers.

    "A company as successful as Vice should be paying decent wages. Vice doesn't," the report said. "The company pays shitty wages to low-level employees, compensating them instead with the sheer coolness of working for Vice Media."

    New York Times columnist David Carr and Vice CEO Shane Smith at the PromaxBDA #WTFuture Conference in New York
    © AP Photo / John Minchillo
    New York Times columnist David Carr and Vice CEO Shane Smith at the PromaxBDA #WTFuture Conference in New York

    One former Vice editorial employee told Gawker that Smith was a "jackass” who “makes an insane amount of money” as the public figurehead of the company.

    Vice responded to the allegations by pointing out that former Gawker interns had brought a class-action lawsuit against the company’s founder, Nick Denton, for allegedly violating federal wage laws.

    Then, at the Vice company holiday party in December, Smith gave each full-time employee an envelope with $1,500 cash inside, amounting to $1 million total, Business Insider reported.

    The Brooklyn-based Vice has grown into a media titan. Technology Crossover Ventures and A+E Networks each invested $250 million for 10 percent stakes in the company last year, on top of a $70 million investment from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

    Tags:
    Consumer Electronics Show, MGM Resorts International, Bellagio, David Carr, Shane Smith, Rupert Murdoch, Las Vegas
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