Triple-A Team Loses Two Big-Name Sponsors After AOC Video Gaffe
Heineken Int'l, which owns Dos Equis and Tecate beer, "confirmed it has pulled its sponsorships for those brands" from the Triple-A PCL Fresno Grizzlies over an "inflammatory video shown during a doubleheader on Memorial Day" that likened U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to Kim Jong-Un and Fidel Castro, according to a front-page piece by Rodriguez & Amaro of the FRESNO BEE. The decision comes one day after California-based raisin company Sun-Maid "ended its corporate sponsorship with the Grizzlies," a minor league affiliate of the Nationals. For now, other corporate sponsors are "sticking with the team." Several of them on Thursday said that while the incident was "unfortunate, they don't plan to end their relationship" with the team. California-based Gar Tootelian is one of the Grizzlies' biggest agriculture sponsors, and President & CEO Greg Musson said that he is "sticking by the team." Musson: "Sounds to me like they made an honest mistake and they apologized. GAR has no intention of abandoning a good, long time friend over one mistake." Meanwhile, Rodriguez & Amaro note longtime sponsor The Fresno Bee, which has been with the team for over 20 years, is "still looking at possible options" (FRESNO BEE, 5/31).
DRIED UP: In Fresno, Bryant-Jon Anteola noted it is "unclear how long" Sun-Maid had been a sponsor with the Grizzlies, but the company has had "signage inside Chukchansi Park for some time." A Sun-Maid sign was "prominently displayed on a red barn in the 'Ag Zone,' which was once located beyond left field." The red barn and the sign were "relocated this season after offseason renovations" to the downtown ballpark were completed. Sun-Maid was "no longer listed" as of Wednesday night among the Grizzlies' sponsors (FRESNO BEE, 5/30).
MOVING FORWARD: In DC, Sam Fortier cites a source as saying that the Nationals are "comfortable with the results of an internal investigation" conducted by the Grizzlies into the incident. The team "received the Grizzlies' findings Wednesday night, detailing how a longtime Fresno employee selected a YouTube video the employee had used for years." However, this version of the video had "apparently been edited to include footage of Ocasio-Cortez." The employee "did not watch the entire video." A source said that the Nationals "vetted the Grizzlies' new internal protocols to ensure something similar never happens again" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/31). Also in DC, Thomas Boswell prior to the Nationals' findings wrote the Grizzlies "need to find and fire the employees who failed to monitor and prevent" the video from being shown at the ballpark. Boswell: "If the Grizzlies don't do it, then the Nats ... must intervene with their minor league team" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/30).