A Massachusetts jeweler who drew a swift backlash from a billboard that made light of the NFL kneeling controversy said business is flourishing, despite fierce criticism from some who called the advertisement racist.
“Overall, we’ve had calls from all over the United States, emails from all over the world. People just want to spend money in the store,” Scott Garieri, the owner of Garieri Jewelers, said on Tuesday during an interview with FOX Business’ Stuart Varney.
Located alongside Route 20 in Charlton, Massachusetts, the billboard depicts a man proposing to a woman on a football field. “If you’re going to take a knee this season,” it reads, “please have a ring in your hand!”
Players, led by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, began kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality committed against African-Americans, roiling the league and leaving officials scrambling for a solution. President Trump has been a vocal critic of the silent protests.
Garieri, a football fan, maintains the billboard was meant to be a light-hearted jab at the NFL players, while also intended ot catch the eyes of passing drivers.
“We find that when you interject humor into a billboard, people really pay attention to it a little bit more,” he said. “We just thought it was humorous, and it was a good play on words.”
That hasn’t stopped critics from lambasting Garieri as a racist and a bigot. He’s received online threats -- someone threatened to vomit on the showcases in his store -- and so has his daughter, who was told on social media to kill herself.
The ad is still up, despite the backlash.
“We want to sell engagement rings, is what we want to do,” he said. “This has nothing to do with being a bigot. This has nothing to do with any kind of racism.”