NASCAR rejects ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ sponsorship, multiple reports say
Wayne Sterling, CNN
(CNN) — NASCAR has rejected Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown’s sponsorship deal with cryptocurrency meme coin LGBcoin — a reference to the controversial “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase, according to multiple reports.
NASCAR will not allow the LGBcoin.io sponsorship to be on Brown’s number 68 car, per reports from FOX Sports and The Athletic. Brown announced the sponsorship deal last Thursday and posted a video of the car on social media.
CNN has reached out to NASCAR and Brandonbilt Motorsports for comment.
According to the Washington Post, citing a NASCAR official with knowledge of the deliberations, NASCAR executives reviewed the sponsorship proposal on Tuesday and notified the team yesterday afternoon of its decision.
The Washington Post also reports, “NASCAR made clear during a November discussion about the potential sponsorship that it would not allow any reference or imagery based on the chant. NASCAR’s formal decision was not a reversal, the official made clear, but the governing body’s first and final word on the matter.”
Max Marcucci, a spokesperson for Brown’s team, told CNN on Sunday that NASCAR gave the team written approval on the sponsorship and paint scheme on December 26. He said the team went through the usual sponsorship approval process.
On the day of the announcement, Marcucci said that NASCAR called and “apologized for any confusion and miscommunication” but said that the deal “needs to be reviewed at a higher level.”
In a statement to CNN on Sunday, Brandonbilt Motorsports said, “We are very aware and appreciative of the process required to approve sponsors and paint schemes and would not attempt to circumvent that process.
“Brandonbilt Motorsports submitted our most recent sponsors and paint scheme to NASCAR, following the standard approval process that we have undertaken many times before without issue. We received written approval on the sponsors from a NASCAR Racing Operations official on December 26, 2021. The team subsequently moved forward with an announcement only after being provided with this approval.
“The sponsor approval was unambiguous — the first four words of the email from NASCAR state, ‘The sponsors are approved …’ The only feedback offered was related to minor graphic design changes to ensure legibility on the track at 170mph.”
Brown planned to drive a “red, white, and blue livery with the logo and wordmark of LGBcoin aboard his No. 68 Chevrolet Camaro for all 33 races of the NXS season.”
The ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ chant started after Brown won his first career race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in early October.
After the victory, Brown was being interviewed when the crowd started to chant, “F**k Joe Biden.” The reporter interviewing Brown said the crowd was instead chanting, “”Let’s go Brandon.'”
In November’s NASCAR’s state of the sport address, President Steve Phelps distanced the sport from the chant.
“I feel for Brandon,” Phelps said. “I think unfortunately it speaks to the state of where we are as a country. We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right. We obviously have and we’ve always had, as a sport, tremendous respect for the office of the president no matter who is sitting.
“I think it’s an unfortunate situation. Do we like the fact that it kind of started with NASCAR and then is gaining ground elsewhere? No, we’re not happy about that. But we will continue to make sure that we have respect for the office of the president.”
In the December 19 New York Times, Brown told the paper, “Our whole navigation is, you want to appeal to everybody, because, all in all, everybody is a consumer. I have zero desire to be involved in politics.”
The next day, the Woodbridge, Virginia, native wrote an opinion piece in Newsweek. Brown said that he “was afraid of being canceled by his sponsors or by the media for being caught up in something that has little to do with me.”
Brown went on to write, “I have no interest in leading some political fight. I race cars. I am not going to endorse anyone, and I am certainly not going to tell anyone how to vote.
“But I’m also no longer going to be silent about the situation I find myself in, and why millions of Americans are chanting my name. I hear them, even if Washington does not.”