Cooler wars: Rivals hope to cash in on NRA feud with Yeti

Last Updated Apr 25, 2018 6:28 PM EDT

Buying a cooler is now a political statement, thanks to a spat between the National Rifle Association and Yeti, an outdoors sporting goods company.

NRA supporters have taken to publicly destroying Yeti's high-end products after the NRA claimed that Yeti ended a discount program as part of a boycott -- a claim Yeti called "inaccurate."

The ongoing backlash on Wednesday had one Yeti rival, Pelican Coolers, saying it had already raised nearly $6,300 to donate to the NRA, a day after announcing the fund-raising campaign.

So far we’ve racked up $6,280 dollars to donate to the NRA thanks to your cooler orders. www.pelicancoolers.com/blog-nra for more details

Posted by Pelican Coolers on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Other competitors also joined in, with RTIC Coolers, Orca Coolers and Bison Coolers all touting their bona fides with the gun-rights crowd.

Message from our owner: Good Afternoon ORCA Nation, We’ve gotten a lot of questions about ORCA’s stance on the 2nd...

Posted by Orca Coolers on Monday, April 23, 2018

Videos posted to social media had some shooting stainless steel Yeti tumblers in yards or basements, while one man used a vise to crush a Yeti tumbler.

YETI cuts ties to the NRA Foundation. Crushed Tumbler! (Cooler Manufacturer) by SouthernDrawGuns on YouTube

And, in a Facebook Live video that by Wednesday had been viewed 210,000 times, Bryan Atkinson used an AR-15 to shoot up a Yeti cooler containing explosive materials on a South Carolina field, saying in the recording: "If Yeti can't stand behind the NRA, I ain't standing behind Yeti no more."

The incident caught the attention of the local police department, which urged those with "excess Yeti Coolers to blow up" to instead donate them to officers to use in the summer.

Around noon today there was a loud explosion north of Hartsville. There is a video going around of someone who blew up a...

Posted by Hartsville Police Department SC on Monday, April 23, 2018

And, while more than a dozen companies including Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have cut ties with the NRA since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Yeti has declared its "unwavering" belief in the Second Amendment in a statement on Facebook.

Yeti said "a number of other organizations" were told it was eliminating outdated discount programs. 

The explanation did not go over well with Marion Hammer, the former NRA president behind the initial missive calling out Yeti to NRA members. Following up with an alert posted Tuesday, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action declared: "Shame on you again YETI.  You know you made a mistake.  A big one. Now you must live with your mistake."

Yet the online reactions to the dispute were not all negative for Yeti, with one Twitter user posting his $280 purchase of Yeti "gear for the whole family.

The NRA and Yeti declined to elaborate further.