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Yellowstone County bars see Bud Light sales drop after partnership with transgender influencer

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Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-19 20:23:28-04

BILLINGS — A Bud Light boycott currently has some Big Sky support.

Bud Light sales are down nationwide, and that includes restaurants and bars in Montana.

Aaron Swain is the owner of the Red Door in Billings and is one of many local bars that have seen Bud Light sales plummet ever since the beer giant teamed up with transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney during March Madness.

"We have seen a decline month to date. The first 18 days of April versus the first 18 days of March, we’re down 38% on Bud Light," said Swain Wednesday.

Bud Light sent Mulvaney a can with a picture of her face on it to commemorate a full year since she transitioned. That can was never sold to the public, but the picture sparked a debate stretching from Washington, D.C., to Hollywood and in Montana.

"I’ve heard comments of, 'I’ll never drink that beer again, I never really liked it anyway, I never drank it.' You know those types of comments. But my people that drink it, they drink it, they haven’t said otherwise," said Lucky Louie's bartender Ashley Winshell on Wednesday.

The bar has been getting an earful from customers.

"A lot of derogatory things and bar talk and things that are not so nice," added Winshell.

That bar talk has been backed up by sales, at least nationally.

According to BREWBOUND, a beer industry news site, Coors Light sales spiked 11% the week the picture of the can went viral, and Miller Light rose 17%.

At the same time, Bud Light sales plummeted by 30%.

But it's a political hot potato most bars don't want to touch.

"We don’t want to offend anybody or offend one side or the other. We want to make everybody happy and stay neutral. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but yeah, we’re not going to dive into it," added Swain at the Red Door.

It remains to be seen if the backlash will continue, but many will closely be watching what happens next.

"I think Bud Light is the first major distributor to jump off that bridge, and seeing the results, I don’t think many will be following," Swain said.