Whataburger issues statement following racist incident involving ASU football players in Tempe

Officials with fast food chain Whataburger have issued a statement following reports of a racist incident at its location in Tempe.

FOX 10 first reported on the incident on June 17. The incident reportedly involved three ASU football players, identified as Nolan Matthews, Jordan Clark, and T Lee.

The three say they walked to the Whataburger location during nighttime. The dining room was closed, so they asked a person in the drive-thru lane to get them some food that they would pay for.

Clark said the incident was sparked by a woman.

"She proceeded to tell the manager -- she asked for a store manager -- and she told him that we're harassing her," Clark said. "We were harassing her. We were begging for food or whatever. He proceeded to comp her meal, give her free food, and she rolled the window down and said, 'thanks for the free food, n-words.'"

N-word, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is used euphemistically to refer to a word that is used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a black person.

The three allege that Whataburger employees didn't provide help. In fact, they accuse the manager of escalating the situation. They say the manager told them to stop harassing his clients, and even threatened to call police.

The incident happened just days after Whataburger officials announced a $1m designation of their charitable funds to a program.

"The funding will go toward scholarships and programs that promote the success of black and other minority students," a portion of the statement reads.

Officials respond

Via its verified Twitter page on Friday, Whataburger officials issued a statement on the incident.

"We apologize that these young men experienced this pain, and have spoken with -- and apologized to -- each of them, some of their families, the ASU athletic partnership staff, and others impacted," read a portion of the statement.

The statement proceeds to give a version of what happened, based on what officials with the fast food chain learned from surveillance video. They say their employee did not hear the woman's comments to the three prior to him issuing her a refund for her complaints.

"After the woman drove off and the students expressed their concerns, our Team Leader missed an opportunity to handle the situation with more sensitivity and empathy," read a portion of the statement, adding that the employee has been coached and now understands "the importance of listening and responding in a way that our customers feel supported and safe.