A Tweet Led To An Olive Garden Boycott, But The Company Denies Supporting Trump

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
This past Sunday, a tweet listing food businesses and chain restaurants that are allegedly “supporting Trump’s reelection” went viral. The tweet named crowd-favorites like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, In-n-Out, and not-so-surprisingly, given their history of supporting anti-gay organizations, Chick-fil-A. The original tweeter followed up with a list of sources that included Opensecrets.org, corporate pages, and a Salon article listing “5 radically conservative fast food companies.”
Over the weekend, this original tweet grew into 240,000 retweets, one of which was from Chrissy Teigen. Olive Garden’s Twitter account has since addressed many of the retweets, attempting to clear the air by stating in over a dozen replies: “We don’t know where this information came from but it is incorrect. Our company does not donate to presidential candidates.”
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Someone later subtweeted Olive Garden, claiming that the problem is not Olive Garden, but Darden Restaurants, the breadstick emporium’s parent company. “To clarify,” Olive Garden’s Twitter responded, “Darden does not donate to federal candidates.”
Refinery29 reached out to Olive Garden and a spokesperson reiterated: “We don’t know where this information came from, but it is incorrect. Our company does not donate to presidential candidates.”
According to the Washington Post, the data the original tweet cited isn’t proof that Olive Garden is funding Trump’s re-election. A lot of the data in the tweeter’s sources pertains only to the 2016 presidential election (not 2020) and the contributions mentioned are mostly small donations that came from individual employees who work at these restaurant chains. For example, the Post points to Federal Election Commission data that shows five Starbucks employees donated a total of $800 to Trump.
A quick search in the FEC’s database shows that the largest sum the 2016 Trump campaign received from an Olive Garden employee was $500. It says nothing about the company itself and there is no information to back any claims that the company supports a Trump re-election.
While the food and beverage industry did give Trump about $50,000 funding, its donations are nowhere near comparable to those of the automotive industry. The Post article goes on to point out that the candidate who has received the most food and beverage money is Democratic candidate Senator Kamala Harris.
And yet, on Twitter, there are still plenty of people calling for boycotts and denouncing Olive Garden, despite the original post’s apparent inaccuracy. Boycotting has, once again, emerged as the political move of the day; vote with your dollar, as they say. Regular people are trying to figure out what is the best way to make a difference, and that involves looking into ethical brands, boycotting ones that aren’t (like SoulCycle and Equinox), and experimenting with vegan, zero-waste, and other sustainable lifestyles.
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