Congress

More sponsors abandon baseball team over AOC ‘enemy of freedom’ video

Heineken International joins raisin company Sun-Maid in leaving sponsorship of Fresno Grizzlies

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was featured on a video at the Fresno Grizzlies Memorial Day baseball game alongside Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

First, the Fresno Grizzlies lost their raisins. Now they’ve lost their beer.

Heineken International, which owns its namesake beer brand as well as Dos Equis and Tecate, announced via Twitter on Thursday that it was yanking its sponsorship of the Grizzlies. The company decided to cut ties after the team played a video at its Memorial Day game that equated Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with controversial figures including despots Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un.

[Sponsor drops baseball team over video calling AOC ‘enemy of freedom’]

“Both Tecate and Dos Equis were sponsors of the Fresno Grizzlies,” Heineken spokesman Thomas Hunt told the Fresno Bee in an email on Thursday. “We do not support those views expressed in the video, that was aired during the Fresno Grizzlies game on Memorial Day. For that reason, we have ended this relationship, effective immediately and have let the team know of our decision.”

Heineken is the second high-profile company to ditch the Grizzlies, the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate, since reports of the video surfaced.

Raisin company Sun-Maid cut ties with the organization earlier in the week, telling the Bee it “does not support the views or sentiments expressed in the video, nor does it condone the airing of it.”

The Fresno Bee, which has been leading the way reporting on the story from its beginning, is still deliberating whether to pull its longtime sponsorship of the Grizzlies. The newspaper has sponsored the team for more than 20 years.

[Baseball team apologizes for video calling AOC ‘enemy of freedom’]

 The Grizzlies “have been an incredible force for good in this community,” publisher Tim Ritchey said. “But this unfortunate error is significant and the future of our sponsorship will be determined as we learn more.”

The video featured an image of the freshman Democrat — a frequent target of conservatives because of her advocacy for programs such as a Green New Deal to combat climate change — superimposed over audio of a speech given by President Ronald Reagan warning against the “enemies of freedom.”

 

The team apologized after the video was played, saying it had not been properly vetted before it was shown in the stadium, and it reprimanded the employee responsible for playing it.

“The video was not produced, created or commissioned by the Fresno Grizzlies. It was carelessly taken from YouTube,” the team said in a second apology Wednesday.

The Grizzlies have publicly apologized to Ocasio-Cortez.

[Sharing info on potential sponsors of unaccompanied children stalled border funding]

On Tuesday the New York Democrat acknowledged the video, warning of the “hateful messages” and the death threats they inspire.

“I’ve had mornings where I wake up & the 1st thing I do w/ my coffee is review photos of the men (it’s always men) who want to kill me,” she said.  “All of this is to say that words matter, and can have consequences for safety.”

Chris Cioffi and Emily Kopp contributed to this story. 

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.