(Newsroom America) -- Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country had record sales on Wednesday, the company said, following a national effort to patronize the franchise following comments by the company's founder opposing gay marriage.
Long lines were scene at a number of the restaurants, but it wasn't known until the company announced Thursday that supporters of Chief Operations Officer Dan Cathy propelled the franchise to a "record-setting day."
"We are very grateful and humbled by the incredible turnout of loyal Chick-fil-A customers on August 1 at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country. We congratulate local Chick-fil-A Owner/Operators and their team members for striving to serve each and every customer with genuine hospitality," the company said in a statement.
"While we don't release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day," the company said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a host on Fox News Channel, initially called on supporters of Cathy to visit a Chick-fil-A restaurant in a show of support. The "Appreciation Day" drew record crowds to many stores.
Huckabee said Thursday the huge outpouring of support went beyond "anything I could have imagined."
People interviewed by some national and local media said they had shown up for a variety of reasons. Many said they came to support Cathy's right to freedom of expression following threats from the mayors of Chicago, San Francisco and Boston to Cathy, warning him not to try to put franchises in their cities.
Huckabee said such threats amounted to "economic bullying" of Cathy in an attempt to silence him and "put him out of business."
"It was just getting out of hand," he said.
In comments to a local radio station last month, Cathy - a devout Christian whose philanthropic organization, WinShape, has donated millions to outside causes supportive of traditional marriage - said he believed God would punish America for tolerating gay marriage.
© 2012 Newsroom America.