Chick-fil-A announced Thursday morning that supporters who flocked to the restaurant for "Appreciation Day" propelled the company to a "record-setting day."
The statement confirmed anecdotal claims that the long lines seen at Chick-fil-A's across the country Wednesday fueled unprecedented sales. The turnout came after CEO Dan Cathy came under fire in some circles for his opposition to same-sex marriage.
"We are very grateful and humbled by the incredible turnout of loyal Chick-fil-A customers on August 1 at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country. We congratulate local Chick-fil-A Owner/Operators and their team members for striving to serve each and every customer with genuine hospitality," the company said in a statement. "While we don't release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day."
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Fox News host who initially made the call for patrons to show up for "Appreciation Day," also said Thursday that the turnout went beyond "anything I could have imagined."
Huckabee said the call for an "Appreciation Day" was in response to what he described as "economic bullying" by people trying to put Cathy "out of business."
"It was just getting out of hand," Huckabee said.
The protests against Cathy included local mayors threatening to keep the restaurant out of their city.
But on Wednesday, stores were packed and lines poured into the streets.
"It's gone beyond anything I could have imagined," Huckabee told Fox News. "Every one of (the stores) that I know have reported record, historic sales yesterday. ... A lot of the stores ran out of chicken before the end of the day."
Critics of Chick-fil-A argue that the company's opposition to gay marriage goes well beyond Cathy's statements. Over the years, its philanthropic wing, WinShape, has donated millions of dollars to outside organizations that actively lobby against efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.
But Huckabee said when he's doing business with any company, "I'm not buying their politics. I'm buying their product. "
Huckabee said one demographic, though, wasn't thrilled about Wednesday's turnout: "Actually I don't think the chickens were too happy about the day. They really gave their lives in mass numbers."