FACT CHECK: Did The CEO Of Starbucks Say, ‘If You Support Traditional Marriage Don’t Buy Our Coffee’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 2,400 times claims the CEO of Starbucks CEO said, “If you support traditional marriage don’t buy our coffee.”

Verdict: False

The quote mischaracterizes a statement former CEO Howard Schultz made in 2013. There is no evidence Schultz or the current CEO of Starbucks made the comment in the Facebook post.

Fact Check:

The popular coffee chain has taken various actions in support of the LGBTQ community and marriage equality over the years, including expressing support in a 2012 memo for Washington state legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and in a laudatory statement about the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Featured in the Facebook image is what appears to be a screen grab of an article that puts up the headline “Starbucks CEO: ‘If You Support Traditional Marriage DON’T Buy Our Coffee.'” The Feb. 3 post also includes a picture of Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks.

There is no evidence Schultz or Kevin Johnson, the current CEO of Starbucks, made that statement. Check Your Fact didn’t find any reporting from major media outlets corroborating the quote. It also does not appear on the Starbucks website or on either man’s Twitter timeline.

“I can confirm this is false,” Starbucks spokesperson Jory Mendes told Check Your Fact via email. (RELATED: Did Starbucks Call To Defund The Police?)

Mendes directed Check Your Fact to a video of Schultz defending the company’s support of same-sex marriage at an annual shareholders meeting in 2013. Mendes also noted that the misattribution, which has been circulating online for years, has previously been debunked by other fact-checkers.

At the 2013 annual meeting, a shareholder suggested that the company had suffered financially from its decision to support same-sex marriage, according to Forbes and Business Insider. In response, Schultz said that “not every decision is an economic decision.”

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country,” Schultz went on to say, according to the video. “You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company.”

The quote in the Facebook post appears to be a misrepresentation of Schultz’s comment during that 2013 shareholders meeting. Multiple websites over the years have run headlines attributing a statement similar to that in the Facebook post to the Starbucks CEO. Schultz did defend the company’s position on marriage equality, but there is no indication Schultz told customers who support “traditional marriage” to not purchase Starbucks coffee.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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