Budweiser, one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors, has responded to the ongoing national anthem protests.
The recent spike in protests were triggered by President Donald Trump’s comments last weekend when he said that any player who didn’t stand for the national anthem should be fired. More than 200 players protested during the anthem in an apparent response.
There have been calls from fans—or former fans—to boycott the league, including not watching games, buying merchandise, and canceling NFL-specific TV packages.
Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, issued a statement to Independent Journal Review about the controversy, saying it supports free speech.
“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,” it says.
“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,” the statement adds.
Anheuser-Busch included a new message for when customers call the company’s hotline.
“At Anheuser-Busch we have a long heritage of supporting the nation’s armed forces, veterans and military dependants,” the 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.”
According to Fox2Now, the hotline went offline on Friday due to a high volume of calls.