Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth addressed the backlash his beer company is facing Friday following its Bud Light ad campaign with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney earlier this month.
Seemingly backtracking the sponsorship’s progressive messaging, Whitworth noted that his goal is only to bring people together.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Whitworth said in a statement posted to Twitter Friday. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
“My time serving this country taught me the importance of accountability and the values upon which America was founded: freedom, hard work and respect for one another,” Whitworth continued. “As CEO of Anheuser-Busch, I am focused on building and protecting our remarkable history and heritage.”
While the statement made no mention of Mulvaney by name, it came in the days following the superstar influencer’s April 1 social media partnership with Bud Light, which had her showcasing a branded beer can with her face on it and announcing a March Madness contest where participants could enter to win $15,000. To this point, Mulvaney is best known for documenting each day of the first year of her gender transition on TikTok.
“This month I celebrated my 365 days of womanhood and Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever — a can with my face on it,” Mulvaney said in the video.
The Bud Light partnership was was met with major blowback from the brand’s conservative and far-right clientele, with drinkers including Kid Rock decrying the company’s connection with Mulvaney and boycotting the brand altogether.
In response to the backlash, a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch had previously said in a statement that the company “works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.”
“We have thousands of partners, millions of fans and a proud history of supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere,” Whitworth’s statement read Friday.
“I care deeply about this country, this company, our brands and our partners,” he concluded. “I spend much of my time traveling across America, listening to and learning from our customers, distributors and others. Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.”
Per a report from the New York Post, Anheuser-Busch saw its shares fall by nearly 4% since Mulvaney’s sponsored post went viral, valuing in a loss of over $5 billion.