HARLAN COUNTY, Kentucky — Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders expressed support for protesting coal miners in Harlan County in the form of 18 hot pizzas from Pizza Hut last Friday.
Sanders is not the only politician who expressed support for the protesting Blackjewel miners. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also pledged their support over the past month, as did Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin who visited the tracks in Cumberland.
Still, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate's contribution shocked the Pizza Hut employees who took the order.
Pizza Hut manager Judy Middleton said she personally took the call and was surprised to hear it was actually from Sanders' campaign.
"I asked them we took the phone number and they said this is Bernie Sanders campaign. We took his credit card on the phone and everything," Middleton said.
Middleton said the staff at Pizza Hut was "tickled to death" to be the pizza chain chosen to deliver the order.
But word that Sanders' campaign staff had sent the pizzas soon percolated through Facebook, whose users had a hard time believing the pizzas came from Sanders' campaign.
"I had got on Facebook. It got me upset on Facebook, the fact that they said it was not Bernie Sanders who ordered [those] pizzas," said Middleton. "I was going to get on there and say I was the one who took the order and I know."
A representative for the protesting coal miners declined to comment on the contribution.
Miners and their families have been camped out on the train tracks near Cumberland in Harlan County to block coal trains from passing after their employer, Blackjewel LLC, abruptly filed for bankruptcy and stopped paying them at the beginning of July.
As many as 200 Harlan County coal miners and another 1,500 in Kentucky and other mines in the U.S. are out thousands of dollars in pay as a result of the bankruptcy.
The company said it would need about $6 million to pay those employees.