Country Star John Rich Gives Bud Light the Bad News After Beer Company Tries to Fix the Unfixable


It’s a little late for Anheuser-Busch to put the transgenie back in the bottle — and country star John Rich knows it.

After a sort-of-kind-of-not-really apology, Rich — half of the duo Big and Rich and the owner of one of Nashville’s most famous bars, the Redneck Riviera — said it was “a little late” for the brand to undo the damage caused by a “woke” partnership between Bud Light and transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

The beer conglomerate has been backpedaling ever since the campaign began; the controversy over blue-collar Bud Light going woke combined with some ill-advised comments from the brand’s VP of marketing saying she wanted to move away from the beer’s “fratty” image, has left the company scrambling to repair its reputation.

This included a letter from the CEO that never used the word “sorry,” “apologize” or any of their synonyms but certainly took that tone, combined with an ultra-patriotic ad featuring American landmarks.

Rich told Fox News he didn’t see the campaign working, however.

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“Well, it looks like they’ve come out with this pro-America, patriotic, old-school-Budweiser-looking ad with the Clydesdales and the red, white and blue and all that,” Rich said in a Monday interview.

“Well, a little late for that. 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 continued.

“And I think when they went after the beer can, you know, something that people have loved for decades. You know, Bud Light, Coors Light, that’s kind of like Ford and Chevy.”

Now, to be fair, the cans featuring Mulvaney’s image were only for the transgender TikTok star himself, not for general consumption, according to The New York Times. However, the tin-eared woke campaign had the company backpedaling.

First came Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth’s pusillanimous letter titled “Our Responsibility to America,” which barely mentioned responsibility or even the Mulvaney campaign, but certainly mentioned America a lot.

“As the CEO of a company founded in America’s heartland more than 165 years ago, I am responsible for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew,” the letter, issued Friday, read.

“We’re honored to be part of the fabric of this country. Anheuser-Busch employs more than 18,000 people and our independent distributors employ an additional 47,000 valued colleagues.”

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“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing together over a beer,” Whitworth continued.

And, in case you missed it, the Budweiser brand means America! America! Very American things about America and other America-ey stuff!

“Let me tell you a story about a beer … rooted in the heart of America,” intones the narrator to the unintentionally hilarious ad, also released Friday, intones.

“This is a story bigger than beer,” the narrator continues as a Clydesdale visits very American spots like the Grand Canyon, the Gateway Arch, the site of the World Trade Center and a standard-issue Main Street USA scene. “This is the story of the American spirit.”

No, this is the story of damage control. For Rich, however, it’s too little, too late.

“You’ve got people that have had brand loyalty to Bud Light forever, you know, since they’ve been drinking beer,” he told Fox.

“That’s what they drink. And 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.”

Rich told Fox he personally wasn’t upset, noting “it’s perfectly within their rights to market their product however they want to.”

“I wasn’t upset that they did it,” he said, “but I thought, ‘Wow, I don’t think that’s going to turn out like they thought.’ And of course, now you look up and I think Bud, like this morning is approaching $7 billion in revenue lost already. I mean, it’s pretty incredible.”

As a bar owner, he said he sees the results firsthand.

“The customers aren’t going to order it,” he said. “I’m not going to stock it. We’ve only got limited area. I’ve got a limited bar. It’s like, I’ve got to put beer and whiskey and vodkas up here that people want to purchase and they want to support,” Rich said, according to Fox.

“And, brother, I can tell you right now it is a vicious attitude toward Bud Light. They just said, ‘You know what? Enough.’ And I think people feel like their voices these days aren’t heard very well. We’ve learned about the censorship on social media. We all know that’s real. And people get squelched out all the time. So they think, well, they’re never going to listen to me, but maybe they’ll listen to my dollars not coming in. I’ll just stop spending my dollars on it. And, boy-howdy, they’ve heard that message.”

He doesn’t think it’s going to blow over soon, either.

Will you ever forget what Bud Light did?

“I said the other day to a buddy of mine, can you imagine? Tell me if you think this will ever happen again. A bunch of guys sitting at a NASCAR race and the waitress comes up and says, ‘Hey, guys, can I get you something?’ ‘Yeah, we’ll take a round of Bud Lights.’ You think that will ever happen again? It won’t. It will not happen,” Rich told Fox.

“I mean, I think this one sticks. I think people have just had enough of it. It’s like a bullhorn in your face all the time with all of these subjects and all of these divisive, divisive topics that have now bled into what is supposed to be our laid-back time, our easygoing time.”

In other words: Get a CGI Clydesdale to visit as many American monuments as you want, but it won’t make a bit of difference. But alas, they have to try.

If only Anheuser-Busch had realized how God-fearing middle Americans were going to take this in the first place, it would have saved itself a lot of money and a lot of extra hours of trying to fix the damage from going woke and going for broke.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture