In the wake of the massive public controversy over NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem, Americans are urging the “King of Beers” to end its sponsorship with the football league.
Now there’s a hotline that’s lets you tell Anheuser-Busch what you think about the idea.
The company is getting so many calls demanding that it end its sponsorship that it apparently created a phone bank to specifically address national anthem-related outrage.
When WND called the phone number for Anheuser-Busch, 1-800-342-5283 or 1-800-DIAL BUD, a recorded prompt asked callers who are contacting the company about its sponsorship of the NFL to press 1.
“At Anheuser-Busch, we have a long heritage of supporting the nation’s armed forces, veterans and military dependents,” a female voice says. “The national anthem is a point of pride for our company and for the 1,100 veterans that we employ. Please feel free to share your feedback after the tone.”
Then callers can voice their concerns in a recorded message to Anheuser-Busch.
Anheuser-Busch also released the following statement:
These are complex issues that require in-depth discussions and nuanced debate. What I can say is that, at Anheuser-Busch, we have a long heritage of supporting the institutions and values that have made America so strong. That includes our armed forces and the national anthem as well as diversity, equality and freedom of speech. We proudly employ over 1,100 military veterans and we work every day to create an inclusive environment for all our employees. Because only together can we achieve our dream of bringing people together for a better world.
Apparently the hotline was so overwhelmed with calls that it crashed Friday, according to KTVI-TV. However, it was back up and running Monday.
In 2015, Anheuser-Busch reportedly paid $1.4 billion when Bud Light, the official beer of the NFL since 2011, renewed its NFL sponsorship. The sponsorship was renewed through the 2022 Super Bowl. Only Bud Light can use team logos and the NFL shield in advertising and on its beer cans.
A WND request for comment from Anheuser-Busch concerning whether the beer company would actually consider ending its sponsorship of the NFL was unreturned at the time of this report. Days after this report was first published, a spokesman said the company will not consider ending its NFL sponsorship.
In poll after poll, Americans have expressed their disapproval of NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem as a form of protest.
In a CBS poll, 52 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat disapprove of players kneeling during the anthem. Thirty-eight percent said they strongly or somewhat approve, and nine percent wouldn’t say.
And an ESPN poll showed Americans disapprove of the protests by 51 to 39 percent.
A full 55 percent of Fox News poll respondents said it was inappropriate, compared with 41 percent who said it’s appropriate.
CNN asked, “Do you think athletes who protest by kneeling during the national anthem are doing the right thing or the wrong thing to express their political opinion?” Forty-nine percent of respondents said players are doing the wrong thing. Just 43 percent said they’re doing the right thing, and eight percent said they didn’t know.
Hot Air reports that NFL owners have seen a surge in requests for ticket refunds due to the national anthem controversy.
Update, Oct. 4, 2017: Days after this article was published, Anheuser-Busch Senior Director of Marketing Communications Matt Kohan sent the following statement to WND:
“At Anheuser-Busch we have a long heritage of supporting the institutions and values that have made America so strong. That includes our armed forces and the national anthem as well as diversity, equality and freedom of speech. We proudly employ over 1,100 military veterans and we work every day to create an inclusive environment for all of our employees. Because only together can we achieve our dream of bringing people together for a better world.
“The Anheuser-Busch phone line has always been available for consumer inquiries on a variety of topics, but we are not conducting a survey regarding our NFL sponsorship.
“We have many long-term sports partnerships, including our NFL sponsorship, and while we may not agree on everything, we still believe in the power of sport to bring people together and overcome their differences. We have no plans to end our NFL sponsorship.”