by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Chick-fil-A has more than doubled its annual sales since gay rights advocates called for a boycott of the chicken chain restaurant after it was revealed nearly a decade ago that the company donated to organizations that opposed same-sex marriage.
In 2018, the company had $10.5 billion in total sales, becoming the third-largest chain in the nation behind Starbucks ($20.5 billion) and McDonald’s ($38.5 billion). It was a 16.7% increase in sales from the year prior.
An analysis credited the growth to a variety of factors, including the opening of nearly 700 more locations in recent years, low start-up costs, and digital sales via delivery apps.
There are now more than 2,400 locations nationwide, and the $10,000 in startup costs for an operator are significantly lower than the costs needed to open a McDonald’s.
The company’s growth has happened despite the calls for a boycott.
The controversy began in 2011 when Towleroad, a blog focused on news about gay and transgender issues, posted the headline: “If you’re eating Chick-fil-A, you’re eating anti-gay.” The headline was in response to the company’s support of a seminar hosted by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which opposes same-sex marriage.
In 2012, Dan T. Cathy, the son of the founder of Chick-fil-A, said he was “guilty as charged” when asked about his opposition to gay marriage. Years later, he said he regretted his comments but that his views hadn’t changed.