With Facebook Live already rolling, Bryan Atkinson stepped out of a pickup truck into an empty South Carolina field and spoke to the camera.
“Here’s the famous YETI,” he said of the high-end ice chest. He then opened the top of the cooler, revealing a duct-taped cardboard box.
“There’s the famous 22 pounds of Tannerite,” he said, referring to the explosives often used for firearms practice. “This YETI ain’t ready.”
After his friends drove the cooler to the middle of the field, Atkinson got down on one knee, readied his rifle and fired. With a resounding boom, the remains of the cooler exploded into the air.
“(If) YETI can’t stand behind the NRA, I ain’t standing behind YETI no more,” he said in the video.
The stunt, posted online Monday, is just one of a number of instances of National Rifle Association supporters destroying their YETI-branded coolers, mugs and related products in recent days amid a controversy over the company’s perceived lack of support for gun owners.
The outcry comes after many companies, including banks, rental car agencies and airlines, severed ties with the powerful gun lobby in the wake of February’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Why NRA supporters are mad
YETI products are popular among those who love the outdoors and a cool (or hot) drink, making them a favorite with hunters, fishermen, campers and tailgaters.
Most of the company’s coolers sell for hundreds of dollars, and the most expensive option costs $1,300.
NRA supporters’ problem with YETI started Friday when former NRA president Marion Hammer wrote a letter on behalf of the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action, saying that YETI had suddenly and without prior notice declined to do business with the NRA Foundation.
“They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation. That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed,” Hammer wrote.
Three days later, YETI slammed that statement as “inaccurate” on its Facebook page. The company said it notified the NRA Foundation and a number of other organizations that they were eliminating outdated discounts.
“When we notified the NRA Foundation and the other organizations of this change, YETI explained that we were offering them an alternative customization program broadly available to consumers and organizations, including the NRA Foundation. These facts directly contradict the inaccurate statement the NRA-ILA distributed on April 20,” YETI said.
The company went on to defend its record of supporting hunters and others who love the outdoors.
“Moreover, YETI is unwavering in our belief in and commitment to the Constitution of the United States and its Second Amendment,” the company wrote.
Videos show YETI coolers and mugs being destroyed
But for some gun owners, that statement was too little, too late. Rallying around the hashtag #YetiCoolerChallenge, they posted videos of themselves using guns to destroy YETI products.
In one video posted Monday, the users behind the YouTube account Camo4x4s stood next to a soon-to-be-destroyed YETI cooler with guns perched on their shoulders.
“YETI does not support the NRA,” one woman says.
“So we do not support YETI,” another adds.
They loaded their weapons in a North Carolina field and fired at the Tannerite-filled cooler, blasting it into bits.
In another video Joe Krawtschenko of Aegis Tactical in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, admitted his YETI coffee mug actually works pretty well. But the company’s NRA decision had changed his mind on using the mug, he said.
“So this is what I think of YETI,” he said, and opened fire.