Aug 10, 2022 - News

Lions Not Sheep founder denies FTC's phony "Made in USA" tags claims

A man carries a flag with the phrase "Lions Not Sheep" at the People's Convoy in Hagerstown, Maryland, on March 5. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Sean Whalen, owner and founder of Lions Not Sheep, is calling "complete and utter bull—" on the FTC's latest claims.

Context: In May, the federal commission alleged the Utah-based apparel company removed "Made in China" tags from their products and replaced them with "Made in USA" labels.

  • The FTC last month ordered Whalen and the company to stop labeling its products with phony "Made in USA" tags and hit them with a $211,335 fine.
  • Whalen posted a video of himself in October 2020, saying he could "conceal the fact that his shirts are made in China by ripping out the origin tags and replacing them," according to the commission's original complaint.

Background: The company, which has a stand-alone store in Bluffdale, is known for its patriotic and pro-Trump apparel that features phrases like "Let's Go Brandon" and "Trumpinator I'll Be Back," Axios' Julia Shapero reports.

The other side: In a 15-minute Instagram video published Tuesday, Whalen said the FTC changed its "Made in USA" regulations last year unbeknownst to him.

  • "There was about a six-week period of time that we did not know that the FTC changed the regulations," he said. "I'll own that 150%."
  • While Whalen acknowledged the error, he maintained his company was unjustly targeted, calling it a "political witch hunt."

Reality check: According to the FTC, "marketers making unqualified Made in USA claims on labels should be able to prove that their products are 'all or virtually all' made in the U.S." or face stiff penalties, according to a news release about the new rule on "Made in USA" labels.

What they're saying: "Companies that slap phony Made in USA labels on imported goods are cheating their customers and undercutting honest businesses, and we will hold those companies … accountable," Sam Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement in May about the company.

What's next: Whalen said he does not plan to enter a legal battle against the FTC in order to avoid costly litigation and continue supporting his business.


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