Olive Garden is disputing rumors circulating on social media that it donated to President Trump's 2020 presidential campaign. After numerous people tweeted about it, the hashtag #BoycottOliveGarden began trending — and Olive Garden's official Twitter account stepped in to try to set the record straight.
The popular chain, which is owned by Darden Restaurants, received a barrage of disappointed tweets after people started sharing a list of companies, including Olive Garden, that supposedly donated to the Trump campaign.
"I will never eat at Olive Garden again. By supporting Mr. Trump you are condoning racism, sexism and xenophobia," one person commented. "blocking y'all. and never eating there. Y'all were the best Italian American place in Katy, Texas," another wrote. "[Olive Garden] went out of business in my neighborhood. Probably because they were meddling in politics and not sticking to pasta," said another.
Olive Garden's Twitter account responded to all of these comments — and many more — in a similar fashion: "We don't know where this information came from, but it is incorrect. Our company does not donate to presidential candidates."
While the restaurant tried to keep up with all of the comments, replying to countless angry customers, it is unclear if their response was enough to shut down the rumors. As of Monday, people were still using the "Boycott Olive Garden" hashtag, and some still seemed to believe Darden donated to Mr. Trump.
Open Secrets, a nonprofit that keeps track of money donated to U.S. politicians, notes that Darden Restaurants as an organization never donated during the 2016 or 2018 election cycles. However, money could've been donated from PACs associated with the company, or individual employees, owners or their family members.
During the 2018 election cycle, donations from those associated with Darden went to both Republicans and Democrats, Open Secrets reports. The top three donation recipients were GOPAC, a Republican group; Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida; and the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association.
During the 2016 election cycle, contributions from the company's associates were also diverse. The top donation recipient was the DNC Services Corp., a Democratic Party entity; followed by GOPAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
People associated with Darden — but not the company itself — gave a total of $8,407 to Hillary Clinton and $886 to Donald Trump in 2016, as well as various amounts to dozens of other politicians from both sides of the aisle.
It is unclear where the claims on Twitter originated. It appears many of the original tweets falsely claiming Olive Garden donated to Mr. Trump have been deleted.