A group of Arizona State football players took to Twitter on Wednesday claiming they were called a racial slur by a customer at Whataburger the previous night, and that a store manager who witnessed it did nothing but threaten to call the police on them.
The burger chain has since apologized, and Arizona State president Michael Crow has released a statement in support of the students.
ASU players asked for help in Whataburger drive-thru
Sun Devils cornerback Jordan Clark, tight end Nolan Matthews and safety T Lee posted lengthy re-tellings of the incident. Clark wrote that he and his two teammates — Matthews and Lee — went to Whataburger and were unable to order inside due to coronavirus restrictions.
The group reportedly asked a white woman if she would order food for them in the drive-thru, with them supplying the money. The woman reportedly turned them down, saying she was in a hurry, so they asked another car that agreed to make the order.
As they reportedly sat on a wall away from the window, the woman confronted the group as she drove around then complained about them to the manager claiming they harassed her.
The manager reportedly comped the woman’s meal in response, at which point she reportedly yelled “Thanks for the free food [racial slur].” The manager, reportedly unfazed, handed her the food, told the players they were in the wrong and threaten to call the police on them.
Warning, the posts obviously contain NSFW language.
Whataburger, Arizona State respond to players
Just a few hours later, the Whataburger Twitter account responded to Clark’s tweet and requested a direct message to collect information for an investigation. The chain later announced it would reinforce training for the employee involved, and apologize to the players and their families.
We do not tolerate racism and were horrified to hear how these customer were treated by another customer. We are reinforcing training with our employee on how this incident was handled and apologized to the players and their families for this terrible experience.— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) June 17, 2020
Meanwhile, the three players met with Crow, ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson, head coach Herm Edwards and others, according to The Arizona Republic.
Crow released the following statement urging Whataburger to fully investigate the incident:
“We are aware of the situation our student-athletes reported happening last night (Tuesday) at Whataburger where they were subjected to racist behavior and name calling by a customer," Dr. Crow wrote in ASU's statement.
"There is no excuse for this. It is a continuation of gross ignorance, racism and hatred that permeates facets of our society. We understand that Whataburger has stepped-up and requested more information. We strongly encourage Whataburger to fully investigate this situation and assess what steps it must take to deal with customers who exhibit this kind of behavior. It cannot be tolerated.
"Sun Devil athletics is in continuous dialogue with student-athletes about the issue of racism in our society and will use this instance as a learning moment. Our commitment to all of our students is that we will provide an environment free of racism and that when confronted with it, we will not shy away from addressing the issue and that we will provide resources and tools to help students navigate and manage through these situations.”
Clark’s father, former NFL safety Ryan Clark, also posted a tweet apologizing to his son for not properly educating him on the racism he would encounter as a young black man.
This is on me. I believed you understood racism in America, I assumed you knew how you were viewed as a young black man. I have failed you. This isn’t on a racist patron, nor a complicit manager. The blessing is I still have you alive to right my wrong. I love you @Jclark21_ https://t.co/bcxacMRILb— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) June 17, 2020
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