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In April, Seth Weathers founded Ultra Right Beer — now often stylized as Conservative Dad's Ultra Right Beer — amid the early days of the conservative, transphobic boycott of Bud Light because, as he said in an advertisement that many initially mistook for satire, he wanted to create a beer that didn't "use our money to indoctrinate our children with [liberal's] woke garbage."
Now, the company is back again with an even more controversial product: A beer called "Conservative Dad's Revenge," featuring Donald Trump's mugshot on the label.
Per Ultra Right's website, each sale of the limited-edition $25 six-pack "defends conservatives against the unconstitutional prosecution by the communist Fulton County District Attorney." Additionally, 10% of the sales will be "donated to the Georgia GOP Defense Fund and the David Shafer Legal Defense Fund to defend Georgia's Trump electors against unjust political prosecution."
The description continues: "This will become the most collectible beer can in American history."
Weathers' stunt comes at a time when the American beer industry is in major flux thanks to the aforementioned Bud Light boycott. The company came under fire from rightwing pundits and public figures — including Kid Rock, Dan Crenshaw and Ted Cruz — after partnering with transgender influencer and activist Dylan Mulvaney on a few social media posts.
The boycott has been marked by a lot of different flavors of outlandish behavior; it really began in earnest when singer Kid Rock schlepped a load of Bud Light cases out into a field and used a MP5 submachine gun to tearfully shoot them. A week later, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, learned how beer monopolies worked when he attempted to join the boycott by filling his fridge with Karbach, another beer owned by Bud's parent company, Anheuser-Busch.
Eventually, Bud Light released a very noncommittal "can't we all just drink together?" statement that ended up provoking people on both sides of the political aisle.
"We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer," Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said in an April 14 statement titled "Our Responsibility to America."
Within the same week, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced that he was launching a Senate investigation into the brand while the Human Rights Campaign — which rates companies based on their commitment to LGBTQ safety and equality — informed Anheuser-Busch that the company's Corporate Equality Index score had been suspended, effective immediately.
By July, just three months after calling for the initial boycott, Kid Rock was again quietly serving Bud Light at his Nashville bar. However, the damage done to the brand, especially following its tepid public statement, was palpable and appears to be lasting.
According to a new report from ABC News' Max Zahn, "Bud Light is set to lose refrigerator space at a vast network of stores belonging to key beer sellers like Walmart and 7-Eleven, since the retailers typically reapportion shelf space based on recent sales performance, taking space away from struggling brands and giving it to hot-selling ones, the industry sources told ABC News."
Per Zahn, this impending shift in how shelf space is appropriated is seasonal, but it comes at a time when sales of Bud Light's rival brands have surged.
"Over a four-week period ending in early September, sales of Bud Light slid 27% compared to the same period a year prior, according to data from Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen NIQ reviewed by ABC News," he wrote. "During that same four-week period, Coors Light sales climbed 20% compared to a year ago; while sales of Yuengling's light lager jumped a staggering 80%, the data showed."
It's from this political quagmire that Weathers emerged with his Ultra Right beer — and then eventually, these limited-edition six-packs featuring Trump's mugshot glowering from the label. As the DailyDot reported back in May, Weathers is something of an opportunist when it comes to "outrage capitalism."
"Weathers' TikTok is one long promotion for his T-shirts and other items attacking conservatives' enemies and lauding their heroes, like that couple who pulled guns on Black Lives Matter protesters for walking through their neighborhood," Claire Goforth wrote for the site. "He also sold 'Let's Go Brandon' wrapping paper."
Weathers' own background is dotted with viewpoints that seem hypocritical to the merch he's selling. As Goforth writes, in 2017 Weathers tweeted that anyone who doesn't support LGBTQ equality is one "the wrong side of history." He was also particularly active online during the Capitol riot, during which he tipped his hat to the Capitol police for showing restraint because they "had full reason to shoot a lot of people today."
At $25 for a six-pack, "Conservative Dad's Revenge" is another obvious cash grab, but one that this time has the potential to run afoul both copyright law and TTB regulations for labeling, depending on the final shipped product.
Donald Trump mugshot merchandise exploded onto the market following the former president's booking in Fulton County, and, per CNN, Trump himself raised millions selling items like t-shirts and mugs with the image on them. However, some legal experts say that since the Fulton County Sheriff's Office owns the copyright to the image, Trump (and, by extension, anyone using that image for financial gain, like Weathers) may have violated copyright law.
In speaking with Spectrum News, Betsy Rosenblatt, a professor at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law, said that makers are prohibited from using booking photos or mugshots for a number of things without authorization.
"You're prohibited from reproducing it, making a derivative work of it, distributing it without authorization, or that is to say distributing anything that isn't the one copy you already lawfully have, and various other things," she said.
That said, it would be incumbent upon the Fulton County Sheriff's Department to sue anyone violating the copyright since they are the owners of the image. It remains to be seen whether they will take any action.
Using the mugshot specifically on a beer label also raises thorny questions about whether it could be perceived that the beer is actually endorsed by Trump. According to the Code of Federal Regulations:
Malt beverage labels, containers, or packaging may not include the name, or the simulation or abbreviation of the name, of any living individual of public prominence or an existing private or public organization, or any graphic, pictorial, or emblematic representation of the individual or organization if its use is likely to lead a consumer to falsely believe that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of, such individual or organization. This section does not prohibit the use of such names where the individual or organization has provided authorization for their use.
Statements or other representations do not violate this section if, taken as a whole, they create no misleading impression as to an implied endorsement either because of the context in which they are presented or because of the use of an adequate disclaimer.
As of publication, neither the TTB nor Ultra Right have responded to a request for comment, but on Ultra Right's website, they do include a disclaimer that reads: "NOT AN ENDORSEMENT (Legal BS to make our lawyers happy). Use of a person's name or likeness is not intended to imply an endorsement of Ultra Right Beer by that person. Likewise, a donation by Ultra Right Beer to a person is not intended to imply an endorsement by the beneficiary."
This wouldn't be the first time that Weathers has played fast and loose with liquor laws in the interest of marketing Ultra Right. According to a report from Crain's Chicago Business, Weathers first stated that his product was made and brewed in Illinois and would be shipped to "woke-free" customers nationwide.
The only snag was that, in Illinois, it is illegal for breweries to ship directly to customers, rendering Weathers initial business plan useless. However, quickly enough, Ultra Right's in-state contract brewer dropped the brand after realizing how it would be marketed. It is now brewed in Georgia.
Ultimately, it will be up to the TTB to determine whether that disclaimer on the mugshot labels is enough to pass legal muster, but the brand has some time — per the website, the collectible six-packs won't ship until 45 days after purchase, allowing Ultra Right to cash in on the outrage now and worry about the rest later.