John Mandt, owner of Stewarts Original Hotdogs and a Republican in the House of Delegates for the 16th District, can tell himself it was a business decision.
And he’s right.
Sodexo, the company that provides food services to Marshall University, including selling Mandt’s hot dogs — the Stewarts Thunder Dog — at Marshall football games, ended its contract with the small restaurant chain, according to a story by Taylor Stuck of The Herald-Dispatch and published in the Gazette-Mail. The restaurant had sold hot dogs at Thundering Herd games for some 30 years.
In the spring, Mandt made some boneheaded remarks on social media that veered into conspiracy territory when a local Islamic group conducted a vigil for those killed in a mass shooting targeting mosques in New Zealand. As has become the new normal, after some deleting and reworking, Mandt doubled and tripled down on his statements, trying out one or two different justifications before settling on the latest claim that his remarks were misinterpreted and he was actually referring to a different event entirely. (This makes little to no sense in examining his deleted statements and reworked posts).
Sodexo and Marshall University received a petition asking both entities to sever ties with Mandt’s restaurants. Neither the university nor the food provider would comment on the issue after Sodexo and Stewarts parted ways, according to The Herald-Dispatch.
Mandt, while claiming Sodexo’s request to sell his hot dogs cheaper would have put him in the red, added a Sodexo representative in a meeting mentioned “political and contractual differences.”
So it was a business decision. Sodexo didn’t want to hurt its own business by associating itself with Mandt. It doesn’t look like that was the sole reason, but it was a relevant factor. Businesses don’t like getting dragged into politics for the very reason that it might affect their bottom line.
Whether Sodexo’s thinking was driven more by money or morality, it was still the right decision to make. Just goes to show that even in this age of howling internet rage, words still have consequences.