Bud Light partnered with a transgender social media influencer for a promotion during the NCAA March Madness tournament. Social media users responded with the false claim that the CEO of the company had resigned following a conservative backlash to the partnership. The claim originated in a fabricated article on a satirical website.
Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light beer, enlisted transgender performer and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney to promote Bud Light during the annual NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
The backlash spread to social media, where posts falsely claimed that the CEO of Anheuser-Busch had resigned because of the fallout.
“Anheuser Busch CEO Resigns As Bud Light Sales Plummet To Record Low,” read the headline of a bogus article on the website topnewsz35.com.
A post on Facebook included a screenshot of an article with the same text but a different publishing date. “CEO Augustus Anheuser III left the corporate headquarters in shame after tendering his resignation,” the article said.
“Everything on this website is fiction,” the website says on its “about us” page.
But social media posts that shared the fabricated article don’t include a parody or satire label.
Among other things, the bogus article wrongly identifies the CEO of Anheuser-Busch as Augustus Anheuser III. The company’s current CEO is Brendan Whitworth.
August Anheuser Busch III was the great-grandson of the company’s founder. Busch III was the president of Anheuser-Busch until 2002 and chair of the board of directors until 2006.
Along with wrongly identifying the CEO, the fabricated story included a photo of someone who is misidentified as Busch III. The person shown in the article’s photo is former Penn State coach and convicted child molester Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky, who is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands.
A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch directed us to the company’s statement released to Reuters in an April 11 article about the claim that the company’s CEO had resigned.
“I can confirm that these statements are inaccurate and there is no truth to them,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
Andrew, Scottie. “Who is trans advocate Dylan Mulvaney?” CNN. 13 Apr 2023.
Craig, Kaitlin. Spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch. Email with FactCheck.org. 12 Apr 2023.
Valle, Jay. “Bud Light partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney prompts right-wing backlash.” NBC News. 5 Apr 2023.
“Kid Rock says F**k Bud Light and F**k Anheuser-Busch then shoots cases of beer with MP5 style rifle.” YouTube. 5 April 2023.
“WE ARE A TEAM OF DREAMERS.” Anheuser-Busch. Accessed 11 Apr 2023.
Klee, Miles. “Companies That Get ‘Woke’ Aren’t Going Broke — They’re More Profitable Than Ever.” Rolling Stone. 8 Apr 2023.
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Reuters Fact Check. “Fact Check-Claims Anheuser-Busch CEO apologized for company’s partnership with Dylan Mulvaney stem from satire article.” Reuters. 11 Apr 2023.