Fake Starbucks CEO quote on 'traditional marriage' resurfaces online

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Social media users claim Starbucks interim chief executive, Howard Schultz, said people should not buy the chain's coffee if they support "traditional marriage." But there is no evidence Schultz ever said this, and the company said the quote is made-up.

"Starbucks CEO: 'If You Support Traditional Marriage DON'T Buy Our Coffee,'" says text over an image of Schultz shared January 26, 2023 on Twitter.

The claim soon accumulated thousands of interactions. It also spread on Facebook.

Screenshot taken February 2, 2023 of a photo on Twitter

The image has circulated on social media for years. But there is no evidence Schultz ever said the quote shared online.

"This is false," Starbucks told AFP in a statement emailed February 2.

The posts appear to misconstrue something Schultz -- who led the company as CEO for many years -- said during a 2013 shareholder meeting when analyst and investor Tom Stauber challenged the company's position on same-sex marriage.

"Until January a year ago, we existed without making gay marriage a core value of our company," Stauber said. "Hence we did quite well."

He claimed a boycott organized by the National Organization for Marriage, a group that advocates against LGBTQ rights, was partly to blame for "disappointing" financial results.

Schultz, then CEO, replied: "It is not an economic decision to me. The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We happily employ over 200,000 people in this company and we want to embrace diversity of all kinds."

He then invited Stauber to "sell your shares at Starbucks and buy shares in other companies."

More than two years later, after the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, Starbucks published a statement applauding the news.

AFP has fact-checked other claims about Starbucks here.