Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson discussed his father's controversial remarks about gay people and African Americans in a GQ magazine interview last year, as the Duck Commander CEO addressed a prestigious business group in Erie, Pennsylvania, Saturday night.
The Duck Dynasty figure didn't give his own views on the topics discussed by Roberston family patriarch Phil Robertson, who in the interview condemned gay people as sinners and questioned whether blacks were better off under Jim Crow laws, though he earlier has said that "you have to read the Bible and make up your own mind."
At the Erie Insurance Arena on Saturday, Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson told crowd of 1,200, "He speaks his mind. He made Christmas interesting for me."
But speaking to the 109th annual gathering of the Manufacturer and Business Association, the Duck Commander CEO also credited his father for building the business that has since become a powerful brand on everything from pre-prepared dinners to NASCAR races.
"Really, my father did the heavy lifting, the chances he took and the investments he made," the 42-year-old Duck Dynasty personality said.
While previous speakers at the annual business event have included such global luminaries are former President George W. Bush, General Colin Powell, and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Nethanyahu, the often stuffy event took on a looser feel Saturday night as many of the normally button-down business leaders in attendance sported camouflage gear, in emulation of their Duck Dynasty TV idols.
Willie Robertson told them that while under his reign as CEO the business has grown from producing 60,000 duck calls per year to 1.4 million -- largely thanks to the runaway success of the Duck Dynasty TV show -- the family's Duck Commander business was already a success, before the family became national celebrities.
But he recalled working for his father's business as a teenager, taking orders for duck calls over the phone and jotting them down on paper plates as Dukes of Hazzard played on TV.
But he said that the business started by Phil Robertson in 1974 may never have happened had the future Duck Dynasty patriarch not straightened out his life after abandoning his family and living for a period as a fugitive in the woods until his wife took him back.
"That's why I never give up on people," said Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson. "If someone had given up on my dad, none of this ever would have happened."