As right-wing legislative attacks against queer and trans people continue to skyrocket around the country, some conservatives seem to only be talking about one thing as of late: Bud Light.
On April 1, transgender TikTok star and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney shared a video of herself participating in Bud Light’s Easy Carry Contest for the end of March Madness, revealing that the company helped her celebrate her “365th day of womanhood” with “possibly the best gift ever” — a commemorative can of Bud Light with Mulvaney’s face emblazoned on the side.
While Anheuser-Busch (the company that makes Bud Light) originally told Billboard in a statement that the commemorative cans bearing Mulvaney’s face are “not for sale,” that didn’t stop right-wing commentators from causing an uproar online, saying that the brand shouldn’t be promoting transgender “ideologies.” Some even said that they would be “boycotting” the companies many products, which include Budweiser, Busch, Stella Artois, Michelob Ultra, Hoegarden and others.
Some of those who spoke out included celebrities such as Kid Rock and Travis Tritt, who promised that they would be cutting all ties with the brand from that point forward. Other artists, including Jason Isbell and Zach Bryan, defended the brand against the online backlash, pointing out the importance of diversity. Even shock jock Howard Stern weighed in on the issue, saying he was “dumbfounded by why someone would care so much” about a trans person acting as a spokesperson for the beer brand.
All of this led to Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth releasing a statement where he attempted to cool the heated discourse, writing that the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.” He added that in the future, he would personally “continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across the nation.”
See what artists have had to say about the ongoing Anheuser-Busch controversy below:
One of the first artists to express his displeasure with Anheuser-Busch, Kid Rock decided to take his anger out with some help from an assault rifle. Posting a video across his social media on April 3, the self-proclaimed “Devil Without a Cause” said that he was “feeling a little frisky” and promised to be “as clear and concise as possible,” before firing a series of rounds at three unopened cases of Bud Light, sending the drinks spraying across his lawn.
Making good on his promise of remaining “clear and concise,” the “Cocky” singer yelled “f–k Bud Light, and f–k Anheuser-Busch” directly into the camera to close out his video.
After watching Kid Rock express himself through gunplay, country star Jason Isbell decided to take the rap-rocker to task through a series of tweets. Retweeting the rap-rocker’s original video, Isbell mocked the clip, asking, “Is this one of those three words you wish you could say to your teenage self things.” Later, retweeting an infographic that showed Coors Light’s long history of corporate support for the LGBTQ community, the “Cover Me Up” singer said, “This is finally how we get him. Leave no bigoted beers to drink.”
When a number of users tried to clap back at Isbell, he continued to taunt them, telling one fan who said “Kid Rock is 100 times a better musician than you” that “he can’t shoot for s–t though can he.”
As the backlash to the brand continued, country singer-songwriter Travis Tritt announced on Twitter on April 5 that he would be “deleting all Anheuser-Busch products from my tour hospitality rider,” adding that there were “many other artists who are doing the same.”
As for why those other artists didn’t seem to be vocalizing their alleged boycott of the brand, Tritt theorized that their silence was due to “fear of being ridiculed and cancelled. I have no such fear.” The “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” performer also added that while he went on a tour sponsored by the brand back in the ’90s, he did so when they were “a great American company,” before they apparently “sold out to the Europeans and became unrecognizable to the American consumer.”
The “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)” singer didn’t stop at Anheuser-Busch. Sharing an advertisement from Jack Daniel’s promoting its own Pride campaign with drag stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tritt said that buyers “should take note.”
In full disclosure, I was on a tour sponsored by Budweiser in the 90’s. That was when Anheuser-Busch was American owned. A great American company that later sold out to the Europeans and became unrecognizable to the American consumer. Such a shame.
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 6, 2023
John Rich of country duo Big & Rich made it very clear that he would be one of the artists joining Tritt in his boycott of Anheuser-Busch’s products. In an April 5 tweet, the “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” singer asked his fans, “What beer should my bar @rnrbarnash in Nashville replace #BudLight with,” referring to his restaurant/bar Redneck Riviera. He also posted a poll on Twitter asking his followers if they were “thirsty for a Bud Light now,” with the resounding response being “Hell Naw.”
After Rich officially removed Bud Light from his Nashville bar, the singer appeared on Fox News to comment on Budweiser’s pro-America ad it ran in the midst of the ongoing controversy. The singer called the apparent attempt at saving face from the beer brand “a little late,” adding that bringing “political” issues into a brand was ill-advised. “You know, the American public, we’re never left alone anymore. We literally can’t go anywhere without something divisive or political being thrown into our face,” he said. “They feel betrayed by it and they just can’t believe that now when they’re sitting down to relax and have a beer, at the end of the day, now it’s in their face again. And I think they’ve just had enough of it.”
Noodles (The Offspring)
With a handful of artists declaring that they would be boycotting Anheuser-Busch products, The Offspring’s lead guitarist Noodles (born Kevin John Wasserman) announced that the band would be going in exactly the opposite direction. “We are going to be adding Anheiser-Busch products & Jack Daniels to our hospitality rider just to piss off a bunch of dimwitted bigots who fear what they don’t understand,” the guitarist wrote over a retweet of Tritt’s original statement. “I know a s–t-ton of artists who feel exactly the same. (And we all drink A LOT).”
With more and more stars commenting on the ongoing backlash to Anheuser-Busch, Ted Nugent appeared on Newsmax April 6 to support of Kid Rock, saying he “trained” the singer appropriately, “because nothing says ‘I love you’ like a fully automatic MP5 and nine-millimeter blasting about 600 rounds per minute.”
Shifting his focus to Anheuser-Busch, the “Cat Scratch Fever” singer said that he would “never allow” any Anheuser-Busch products “anywhere near my world,” and called the company’s work with Mulvaney was “the epitome of cultural deprivation.”
Rising country superstar Zach Bryan came to the defense of the trans community on Twitter, attempting to diffuse the growing tension. “I mean no disrespect towards anyone specifically, I don’t even mind @travistritt,” he tweeted on April 8. “I just think insulting transgender people is completely wrong because we live in a country where we can all just be who we want to be It’s a great day to be alive I thought.” He added a shoutout where he told Tritt that “I love Jack Daniels (my dogs name) and I will drink enough for both of us I promise.”
When some fans pointed to a recent incident where former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines was allegedly “physically assaulted” by a group of protestors supporting trans rights, Bryan quickly said he did not support any kind of violence. “I just have family transitioning and have blood to defend here,” he wrote. “No one threaten me pls.”
I mean no disrespect towards anyone specifically, I don’t even mind @Travistritt.
I just think insulting transgender people is completely wrong because we live in a country where we can all just be who we want to be
It’s a great day to be alive I thought
— Zach Bryan (@zachlanebryan) April 8, 2023
Before Anheuser-Busch partnered up with Mulvaney for their Easy Carry contest, country singer Riley Green was an apparent supporter of their flagship beer. In his 2019 song “I Wish Grandpas Never Died,” Green added a series of “wishes” to his list, including a wish that “coolers never run out of cold Bud Light.” But during a performance opening for Luke Combs at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Friday (April 14), the singer switched the lyric to wishing that “coolers never run out of cold Coors Light,” as the audience cheered him on.
During a Saturday (April 15) show at Indian Mountain Ampitheater in Piedmont, Ala., country star Brantley Gilbert decided not to say “Bottoms Up” when a fan tossed him a Bud Light. In a video of the incident that was posted online, the singer looked directly at the can and then back at the crowd, before saying “f–k that” and smashing the beer on the ground. When a fan tossed the singer another beer in a silver can, he nodded in approval, tossing it back to his drummer and instructing him to “shotgun that son of a bitch.”