Relive the Associate Celebration!

Associates Week 2024

 Associates from around the world shine as the MVPs of Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Bud Walton Arena glowed Walmart blue as associates from around the world got hyped for the 2024 Associate Celebration.

“How do we always get the meeting started?” asked Cedric Clark, executive vice president of store operations for Walmart U.S., before leading the crowd in a Sam’s Club cheer, followed by the Walmart cheer in Spanish and English.

Moments later, Lizzo stepped to the stage to get the crowd pumped with some of her greatest hits. “Baby, how you feelin’?” she sang, and then tore it up with her signature flute solo during “Juice.” 

Another star, football legend Peyton Manning, took the stage next as this year’s host! “I know behind every Walmart store, there are dedicated associates who make it all happen,” he said. “You are the ones who make Walmart a great place to work and shop. You are the ones who help people live better lives.”

Associate Edward Hartline, GM coach at Store 2660 in North Reading, Massachusetts, performed the U.S. national anthem, singing soulfully as he played guitar. Next, Walmart’s global impact was on full display as associates bearing the flags of all 19 countries where we operate shared a moment on stage.

Greg Penner, chairman of the board of directors, reminded us of our history and purpose: how Walmart’s humble beginnings grew into our legacy of helping people around the world live better.

And we couldn’t talk about the legacy of Walmart without a moment of gratitude for Rob Walton, who recently retired from Walmart’s board of directors after more than 40 years of service. “Rob, we have all benefited from your leadership,” Greg said. “Thank you.” The crowd showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.

Next, the Walton family recognized the 2024 Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year: Tony Gonino, market manager, Market 0197, out of Dearborn, Michigan. They honored Tony for "creating a true store of the community for his customers” in the footsteps of Sam Walton, who was masterful at tailoring merchandise to a market. Tony’s family surprised him by joining him on the stage, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

And then the beat dropped. Imagine Dragons had the walls of Bud Walton shaking with their hit “Believer.” “When I got up this morning, I was like nobody is going to be ready for anything at 8 a.m.,” said lead singer Dan Reynolds. “But y’all are ready!”

Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner followed, using this year’s biggest cosmic event — the total solar eclipse — as an illustration of the unique role Walmart plays, bringing people and communities together. This unity isn’t just reflected in our culture and our associates, but also how we serve our customers as an omnichannel retailer, now and in the years to come.

“I truly believe our best and brightest years are ahead of us,” John said. “We’ll be serving customers in 2045 in ways we can’t even imagine yet.”

Eris Jones, fresh associate from Club 4925 in Greenville, Texas, introduced Chris Nicholas, CEO of Sam’s Club, who encouraged everyone to keep innovating, embracing the pioneering spirit that fueled Sam’s Club’s growth and continues to help our members live better every day.

“Our time to take off is now,” Chris said. “Together we are pioneering the future of retail, and it’s all possible because of you.” 

He went on to highlight some of today’s pioneers at Sam’s Club, associates like Staci Bennett. Staci started her career as an hourly cashier in 2009, but after an energizing and life-changing experience during Associates Week 10 years ago, she set her sights higher and made a game plan for her career. Today, she’s the club manager at Club 6383 in Salisbury, Maryland — and dreams of coaching the next CEO!

“I couldn’t be more excited about what our future holds. There’s no crew I’d rather work with,” Chris concluded.

People Lead Le’Lani Johnson joined Peyton on stage and coached him up on how to perfect his Walmart squiggly before introducing the next performers, the Backstreet Boys.

The group reminisced about one of their first performances 31 years ago on a flatbed semi in a Walmart parking lot in Omaha, Nebraska, and kept everyone on their feet with millennial classics like “Backstreet’s Back,” “I Want It That Way” and “Larger Than Life.”

Kath McLay, CEO of Walmart International, shared Walmart’s impact by taking us on a trip around the world. From Yellowknife, Canada, our northernmost store, where “Walmart is a lifeline for an entire region,” to South America, India and finally California, where we’re working with Unspun on a pilot to create sustainable, 3D-woven pants at an affordable price – just like magic!

“Together, we bring Walmart to the world, and the world to Walmart,” Kath said.

And there’s nothing quite as magical as the talent of our associates around the world! This year’s Walmart Associate Talent Search winners truly shone on stage!

Tshegofatso Rankapole, senior business analyst, from Sandton, South Africa, hit us in the feels with spoken word poetry. Matthew Haggard, from Store 0712 in Scottsboro, Alabama, stunned with an electric guitar solo and Nathan Dill, from Club 6331 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, wowed the crowd with his violin. The other winners lit up the arena, dancing and singing with their whole hearts!

Next up was Dylan Beard, a deli associate at Store 5254 in Wake Forest, North Carolina, who also happens to be a professional hurdler – and one of the fastest in the world! The 2024 Olympic hopeful took the mic and introduced Walmart president and CEO, Doug McMillon.

Doug began by reflecting on what it would mean for us to reach our full potential. “I have seen a lot of change in this company, and along the way I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of talented and great people. And I’ve watched us learn, change and grow. Through it all, I think we’ve accomplished a lot, but we’ve never achieved full potential.” 

So what would it take to get there? Continuing to strive for excellence and pushing each other to be at the top of our game every day.

“Yesterday doesn’t matter, it’s over. What will we do next?” Doug asked. “Will we do what it takes to achieve our full potential? Will we set high expectations? Will we pay attention to detail? And will we constantly improve? I think the answer is yes, and I think that because of you.” 

Doug went on to highlight three associates who embody what it means to strive for excellence.

Taneisha Edwards, out of Club 8296 in Springfield, Missouri, started as a part-time cashier. During her nine years with the company, she has completed three certificates through Live Better U, including a business and economics certificate from Cornell.

Then there was Dekota Boesenberg, out of Club 8162 in Iowa. Fellow Iowan and pro basketball player Caitlin Clark appeared on the big screen with a special message of encouragement for Dekota, who recently applied for a promotion to the management team.

“Do you still want to do that,” Doug asked, turning to the crowd. “You guys want to promote Dekota today?” Dekota pumped his fists in the air and excitedly accepted his promotion.

Doug then shared the story of Mark Nunes, an InHome delivery driver from Store 1892 in Hodgkins, Illinois, who shows that simple acts of kindness go a long way. Mark left a card for his customer, Judy, who had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Judy found renewed hope and comfort in Mark’s kind words.

As Doug introduced each associate, a banner dropped from the ceiling bearing the names of these associates as champions in the Walmart Hall of Excellence. And next to these three banners? A fourth, blank banner, reminding us that our best is still yet to come. 

“What will it take for us to put our name on that championship banner? High expectations. Attention to detail. And constant improvement.  Just imagine the difference we can make in the world when we perform at full potential,” Doug said in closing. “Let’s make it happen.”

And there was only one way to respond to that: “YEAH!” Usher closed out the celebration with a thrilling performance, encouraging everyone to take their positive energy out into the world and do something incredible.

There were truly only winners at this year’s celebration with Peyton Manning telling associates, “You are the MVPs of Walmart.”

Relive all the winning plays from Associates Week 2024 right here and check out the full meeting below. Due to licensing agreements, all celebrity appearances have been removed.

Explore more stories