Herschel Walker May Have Fudged Details Of His Chicken Empire Just A Tiny. Ooopsie!
File:Herschel Walker visit with USAFA Class of 2016 Basic Cadet ...

There is a reason that Senator Mitch McConnell didn't want Herschel Walker to run for the US Senate in Georgia, and that reason is Herschel Walker.

The former University of Georgia running back enjoys universal name recognition, but he's never run for office and hasn't lived a life conducive to the scrutiny it takes to get elected. Which is not to say that he can't win, because he definitely could. But Georgia Republicans weren't really given the chance to decide if they wanted a guy with a history of domestic violence and mental health issues, who made repeated false claims about his businesses, and who lived outside the state until about five minutes ago as their standard bearer. For whatever reason (JK, it is racism), Trump decided Walker was the one who could take out Senator Raphael Warnock, effectively freezing the field, so Mitch and the Peach State Gippers are stuck with him.

Which means they're stuck with the regular appearance of stories like this one from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the distance between Walker's claims about his poultry company Renaissance Man Food Services and the reality. Spoiler Alert: That chicken would have to cross many roads to get to the truth.

“I’ve been in the chicken business for about 20 years. I’m the largest minority-owned chicken business in the United States,” the Heisman trophy winner told Fox Business in 2018. “I’m essentially a mini Tyson Foods.”

“Now, we have over 600 employees and we do chicken all over the United States into Canada. We won a lot of wars too,” he said, boasting of his success taking on the country's largest poultry processor. “Tyson manufactured for me for about five years until we started to sting, and what I mean by that is that we started to compete for the same customer and I had to make a decision: Do I go out of business or do I invest in my plants?”

A reader could be forgiven for seeing "we have over 600 employees" and "my plants" and thinking that Renaissance had hundreds of employees and actual, you know, "plants."

Whaddaya got, AJC?

During the pandemic, Renaissance Man Food Services reported just eight employees on applications for two Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal Small Business Administration totaling $180,000. The first loan in April 2020 amounted to $111,300 and has since been forgiven.

The large estimates of employees he has made to the press over the years appear to refer to chicken processing jobs, which are not actually part of Walker’s business. In reality, manufacturers supply chicken to Renaissance Man Food Services which the company then sells to retailers and other business under one of Walker’s food brands, court documents show.

Apparently Walker's company was a middleman whose only value added was to slap his name on the product. Not so much with the "600 employees" and the "my plants" then, huh?

“I don’t mean to speak of ‘own’ in a technical sense,” he said during litigation in 2018. In fact, in a "technical sense," the AJC was able to dig up plenty of evidence of bad debts and default judgments against Walker and his business partners.

For instance, Walker touted his involvement and ownership stake in Zoner’s Pizza, Wings and Waffles, a 15-outlet southern fast food chain. But in 2018, a Texas court entered a $600,000 default judgment against Walker and his business partner, which has apparently not been paid off. And according to the AJC, the company is being refinanced without Walker, although he hasn't stopped pointing to it as an example of his sterling business prowess.

Or, as Walker campaign spokesperson Mallory Blount put it, “As any entrepreneur who has enjoyed any sort of success knows, some businesses do better than others."

Which is true, as far as it goes. American capitalism encourages entrepreneurs to be risk-tolerant — it's why we allow business debts to be shrugged off in bankruptcy. But if you're running for public office as a successful businessman, people are going to notice that you and your partners had $9 million of defaulted or late debt in 20 years because a lot of your bets didn't pay off.

“Whenever Georgia needed somebody to speak up for their businesses, they called Herschel Walker,” he said at a recent rally. Which is actually true — sort of — if you substitute Texas for Georgia, because Walker's most regular source of income appears to be as a pitch man and celebrity spokesperson, which is a perfectly honorable way to make a living. It's just not quite the story he's trying to sell to Georgia voters.

Anyway, here's a picture of Senator Warnock walking the walk.

[AJC / Fox Business]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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