In August 2020, claims started circulating on social media that PepsiCo, the company behind Pepsi, had donated millions to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Some people posted that the company had donated $400 million to the movement while others claimed the company donated $100 million. On August 24, fact-checking site Snopes wrote that the claim is “mostly false.”
As the website writes, the claim comes from an announcement the company made back in June that they would be donating $400 million to “lift up Black communities and increase Black representation at PepsiCo.” Snopes wrote that: “the amount of the company’s purported donation to BLM shifted from $400 million to $100 million, for reasons that are unclear, but may have resulted from a misreading of earlier posts that claimed Walmart, Apple, and Comcast had each donated $100 million to BLM.”
The reason the label “mostly false” was applied by Snopes instead of “false” is because PepsiCo’s announced breakdown of the $400 million in donations includes $6.5 million for “community impact grants to address systemic issues,” and it’s unclear if that includes projects associated with the BLM movement. Heavy reached out to PepsiCo for more information about its donation allocations but did not immediately hear back.
Many People, Including Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk, Posted the Claim That PepsiCo Donated Millions to BLM, Making It Go Viral
On July 25, in a tweet referencing an incident in which the McCloskey couple were seen pointing firearms at protestors, Kirk wrote: “In America if terrorists show up to your home, you get charged for showing that you own a weapon after they tear down your gate. And the thugs who entered on to your property get $400 million from PepsiCo. as a reward.”
Many people have shared similar messaging, with some saying, “Apparently Pepsi just donated a whole lot of cash to BLM?” Another wrote, “PEPSI GAVE BLM 100 million dollars? BOYCOTT PEPSI PRODUCTS!” One tweet reads: “No more Pepsi for me after you donated money to terrorist linked Black Lives Matter.”
Many people shared an image or a text claim that lists Fortune 500 companies who have “pledged to BLM.” It says that the Bank of America pledged $1 billion, PepsiCo pledged $400 million, and Walmart, Apple and Comcast pledged $100 million each. As Snopes reported, none of the claims circulating on social media are supported by evidence showing that PepsiCo is donating to BLM and not simply pledging money to Black initiatives and businesses as it has stated.
PepsiCo’s CEO Made the Donation Announcement on June 16 & Pledged Over $400 Million to Black Communities & Initiatives
In a statement posted to Twitter, PepsiCo’s CEO Ramon Laguarta wrote that the company would be “investing more than $400 million over five years to lift up Black communities and increase Black representation.”
In a longer piece published on LinkedIn, Laguarta provided a breakdown of the donations totaling just over $400 million, writing that $350 million would be to “more than double our spending with Black-owned suppliers,” $60 million would go to supporting Black-owned restaurants and small businesses, $6.5 million would be allocated to “community impact grants” and $5 million would go toward starting a “Community Leader Fellowship program.”
As Snopes pointed out, “The claim that PepsiCo had donated $100 million (or $400 million) to BLM appeared to be based on a basic misunderstanding of the company’s June 2020 announcement — or the false assumption that any investment associated with the Black community or rectifying racial injustice must be directly connected to BLM.”