John Rich believes a few common denominators bring people together.
Just before his electric CMA Fest performance, the Big & Rich singer exclusively told Fox News Digital that his Redneck Riviera whiskey brand and bar in Nashville stands for something – and he has faith that a growing population does, too.
The “Save a Horse” singer pulled Bud Light from his Nashville bar in April amid controversy with a Budweiser marketing campaign featuring transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney. He said the brew used to be his biggest seller, but with the new ads, Rich couldn’t get customers to buy Bud Light.
“I think people finally had enough of woke culture being right in their face like a bullhorn every time they turn around,” he said. “You know, at the end of a hard-working day, you want to have a cold beer. That’s like your reward for working hard all day. The last thing any man or woman wants is to have culture slammed right up in their face. They just don’t want that.”
He added, “So they rejected it, rejected it wholeheartedly, and we moved on to other beers.”
Instead of throwing out the beer, he let his customers “decide” what to do.
“Well, five or six days go by, and my general manager calls me, says, ‘Well, we’ve sold a total of zero Bud Lights,'” Rich recalled. “I said, ‘Well, how much Bud Light are we sitting on down there?’ He said, ‘118 cases and 8 kegs. What do you want me to do with it?’”
Rich’s manager said the customers wouldn’t “touch” the Bud Light following the failed ad campaign.
“The last thing any man or woman wants is to have culture slammed right up in their face. They just don’t want that.”
“I said, ‘Well, call the distributor and have him come pick it up.’ So it’s the first time, I think, in history that a beer truck took beer out of a bar instead of dropping it off at a bar.”
Rich said he hasn’t lost “one nickel of business” since taking Bud Light out of his bar, which opened in 2018.
“I think the majority of people, whether they’re left, right or otherwise, they care about their families,” he said. “I think they respect our military. I think they love and value and cherish their freedom.”
He added, “I think most people don’t like what they see going on in the country. That’s backed up by polls that 82% of Americans think we’re in the wrong direction right now. 82% of Americans don’t agree on what kind of ice cream they like, but they agree on they don’t like what’s going on in the country right now.”
The country star wasn’t surprised by Bud Light’s decline in sales, but wondered why the company would market a product that would “make people pick sides.”
“I think one of the coolest things about a good, cold beer is that you can be standing in a bar, and you’re drinking a Bud Light and the guy down the bar from you – who looks nothing like you and you’re pretty sure you would disagree on everything – is also drinking a Bud Light,” he said. “There’s a commonality that happens at the bar.”
He said, “They made it a political social issue on what beer you drink, and I think that’s a sad statement on our country right now. But, hey, it’s their money. It’s their brand. They can market it however they want to, but Americans have responded in a very strong way.”
Rich is having no issues selling his Redneck Riviera whiskey, which he says is flying off the shelves with a marketing plan to back it up.
“While other brands decide to market their products however they want to, for me, it’s very simple,” he said. “Redneck Riviera is about God, family, country. We celebrate hard work, we celebrate patriotism.
“We celebrate what makes our country the greatest country that’s ever existed in the history of the Earth. We’re the only country that ever told its citizens that they had a God given right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Rich said there was a “fancy word” to define those rights.
“Inalienable. Inalienable rights, meaning those rights were not given to you by government,” he said. “They were granted to you when you were born, and they cannot be taken away by anybody. And we celebrate that in this country.”
When asked about Garth Brooks’ decision to sell Bud Light at his own Nashville bar, the “That’s Why I Pray” musician said it’s entirely up to him.
“We’re the only country that ever told its citizens that they had a God given right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“Garth Brooks has always been the guy that that said, ‘everybody come to my show,’” Rich told Fox News Digital. “It’s something that we love about Garth. You know, he makes his music for everybody. And that really is what music is about. You’re making your music for everybody. Beer’s for everybody, too.”
“If Garth is serving Bud Light in his bar, that’s fine. Garth can do that. Garth might find out not many people are going to order it,” he explained. “And at the end of the day, you have to put things in your establishment that people are going to purchase if you’re going to run a successful business. So, he might find that out.”
Brooks is likely focused on wanting to bring a divided country back together, according to Rich.
“I think he probably sees the pain and division that’s going on in the country and wants to try to help that,” the musician told Fox News Digital. “If I know Garth at all, and I know him a little, that’s probably the impetus behind a statement like that. So, good for him. I wish him the best.”
Brooks and Rich are just two of the musicians who have taken a side on the Bud Light controversy after the beer giant sent transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney a personalized pack of beer with the influencer’s likeness as part of an ad for the company’s March Madness contest.
“If Garth is serving Bud Light in his bar, that’s fine. Garth can do that. Garth might find out not many people are going to order it.”
Brooks’ Friends In Low Places Bar & Honky Tonk is still under construction in downtown Nashville. Once it opens, “every brand of beer” will be available, according to the country music crooner.
“I want it to be a place you feel safe in, I want it to be a place where you feel like there are manners and people like one another. And yes, we’re going to serve every brand of beer. We just are. It’s not our decision to make,” Brooks told Billboard. “Our thing is this: If you [are let] into this house, love one another. If you’re an a–hole, there are plenty of other places on lower Broadway.”
Rich wasn’t just in town to talk about whiskey or beer, though. He shared fond memories of CMA Fest from years ago.
“We called it Fanfare since the very beginning because it was all about the fans, and it still is,” he said. “So much country music fans, I think, were the only genre in the world that has a specific event just for the fans of the music – of country music.”
He remembered saving money to make it to the festival when he was a teenager.
“I bought a ticket to Fanfare to come see the Judds – Wynonna and Naomi. I actually got in a line and went through a line in front of the stage,” Rich said.
“I grabbed a couple of pictures of the ladies singing, and it was the biggest thrill I had ever had at that point in my life, because I got that close to some of my heroes in country music. So we get to do this every year, come down to Redneck Riviera, sing to the fans, meet everybody, shake their hands, get pictures. It’s an incredible thing.”
Fox News Digital’s Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.