SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah-based coffee company denies any supposed connection with or sponsorship of Kyle Rittenhouse after a photo of the teen wearing a shirt with the company's logo was shared on social media.
In August, Rittenhouse, 17, traveled with a gun from his home in Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin amid unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse is accused of shooting and killing two people at the demonstrations.
Rittenhouse was released from jail after paying a $2 million cash bond on Friday. Over the weekend, Black Rifle Coffee Company was forced to respond after the host of a podcast which the company sponsors tweeted a discount code for the coffee along with the photo.
"Kyle Rittenhouse drinks the best coffee in America," Elijah Schaffer, host of Blaze Media's "Slightly Offens*ve," wrote in the now-deleted tweet.
The same photo shared by another Twitter user.
FREE AT LAST!!!
From L to R:
Attorney John Pierce @CaliKidJMP
THE KYLE RITTENHOUSE
Actor Ricky Schroder @rickyschroder13
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) November 21, 2020
A Black Rifle spokesperson initially told The Salt Lake Tribune that the company was ending its sponsorship of the podcast. However, she later clarified her comments, saying she misunderstood.
"We are not fluctuating our ad spend," she told the Tribune in a text message. "We did have a conversation with Schaffer, and he understands that the post was a mistake."
After clarifying the company's continuing sponsorship of Blaze Media, the spokesperson added, "Our concern is that use of the discount code in the post did not reflect our values. That's a concern we've addressed with the journalist and that he understands."
Blaze employees "make decisions about how to allocate ad dollars within the Blaze," she said, but she did not clarify whether Black Rifle would request to end its placement as a podcast sponsor. She said the company and Blaze are discussing "how to move forward with the allocation of ad dollars."
The company did, however, officially state that it does not sponsor and does not have any direct connection with Rittenhouse.
"We do not support legal advocacy efforts," Black Rifle co-founder Evan Hafer said in a statement. "We do not sponsor nor do we have a relationship with the 17-year-old facing charges in Kenosha, WI."
Black Rifle Coffee was founded in Salt Lake City in 2014. The company describes itself as "a veteran-owned coffee company serving premium coffee to people who love America" and often donates to support groups for veterans and first responders. The company has been endorsed by several conservative politicians and talk show hosts.
Click here to read the full report. Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City is a content-sharing partner with The Salt Lake Tribune.
This story was originally published by KSTU in Salt Lake City.