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The Anheuser-Busch CEO whose bid to quell the backlash over Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney debacle came off as flat as a beer left out in the sun was a CIA spy handler before heading up the brewing behemoth.
Brendan Whitworth formerly worked as an officer in the CIA’s counterterrorism center, where he recruited and handled intel informants before becoming a private-sector executive, according to The Official Board. Whitworth has been roundly blasted over his statement Friday in response to Bud Light’s controversial decision to partner with Mulvaney, a transgender activist and social media influencer.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Whitworth said in a statement Friday. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
The statement contained no mea culpa and no mention of Mulvaney or the radical transgender ideology he espouses. Many beer drinkers have rejected Bud Light, once the nation’s most popular beer, with distributors complaining they can’t sell it and bartenders around the country saying no one orders it anymore.
But the 46-year-old Whitworth, a Harvard Business School grad who is reportedly a registered Republican, doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a typical “woke” CEO, perhaps making his widely-criticized statement even more shocking.
After high school, Whitworth, a successful student-athlete, decided to go to school to be a doctor, following in his father’s footsteps. The desire for a medical degree was short-lived though, as Whitworth ended up attending Officer Candidates School (OCS) before his senior year at Bucknell. He spent another three years in the Marines after graduating from OCS, until 2001.
Whitworth told Fox Business last year that he felt called to serve his country, citing his family roots and his gratitude for America. The CEO also said his grandfather worked with the FBI under President Herbert Hoover and ran training in Quantico, Virginia.
“I felt fortunate to have been born in the United States,” he added. “I felt like I needed to pay that back like I had a bit of indebtedness that I … needed to pay.”
Moving on from the Marines, Whitworth became an officer in the CIA counterterrorism center from 2001-2006, where he “specialized in the recruitment and handling of human sources with access to vital intelligence that prevented and disrupted terrorist threats,” according to his now-removed Linkedin profile.
The CEO has said that his sister encouraged him to get out of the CIA, where he was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, to pursue a less dangerous profession.
According to HITC, Whitworth prepared for the entrance test to enroll in business school while still working at the CIA. After a year of studying, he flew down to Washington, D.C., to take the exam and submitted the results 29 minutes before his Harvard Business School application was due.
He was accepted into the business school in 2006 and graduated two years later. By 2008, he was working at PepsiCo in the Frito-Lay division as senior director of sales. From there, Whitworth was hired by Anheuser-Busch in 2013, where he climbed the ladder to CEO in July 2021.
As highlighted by The Daily Wire, Whitworth’s statement issued Friday on the Anheuser-Busch controversy was not well-received from either side of the transgenderism issue. LGBT activists wanted Whitworth to back the Mulvaney partnership, whereas others wanted the CEO to denounce the sponsorship.
Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro said in a tweet Friday, “Anheuser-Busch CEO has now released a statement in which he addresses zero of the problems with hiring a man cosplaying as a woman to sell cheap beer to a predominantly male audience.”