WASHINGTON – Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue said Monday Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was selected as the company’s “employee of the month” earlier this year after she drew attention to the boycott against the company, and a spike in sales followed.
Unanue was criticized in July for praising President Donald Trump during a visit to the White House.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” CEO Robert Unanue said during a speech after a roundtable with Trump and other Hispanic leaders.
Goya Foods bills itself as the country’s largest Hispanic-owned food company. Some Latinos expressed disappointment with the CEO’s praise for a president who they say continuously attacks Latinos.
“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,'” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter following the roundtable, later sharing an alternative recipe to the Adobo seasoning, which is part of the Goya brand – a well-known Latino household item.
Unanue, appearing on “The Michael Berry Show” on Monday, said Ocasio-Cortez “was actually our employee of the month.”
“When she boycotted us, our sales actually increased 1,000%, so we gave her an honorary — we never were able to hand it to her — she got employee of the month for bringing attention to Goya and our adobo,” he claimed.
Following the backlash, buying beans became somewhat of a political statement.
The president expressed his support for the company, tweeting,”I LOVE @GoyaFoods!” and posting a photo on Instagram that showed him giving two thumbs up while seated behind a row of Goya Foods products.
White House adviser, and the president’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, also posted an image of herself on Twitter holding aloft a can of Goya black beans.
The Trump’s posts drew swift reaction on social media, including from several critics who maintained it was a violation of a rule that prohibits executive branch employees from using their position for the “endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”
Ocasio-Cortez also weighed in on the controversy with a play on the company’s slogan.
“If it’s Trump, it has to be corrupt,” she tweeted in Spanish.
Contributing: Jessica Flores, William Cummings, David Jackson USA TODAY