Bubba Wallace: ‘Doesn’t Matter If We Provide 100% Facts,’ People Will Use ‘Photoshop’ To Make Me Look Bad

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MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - JUNE 10: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, wears a "I Can't Breathe - Black Lives Matter" t-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world taking to the streets after the death of George Floyd on May 25, and crew bump fist prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on June 10, 2020 in Martinsville, Virginia.
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NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace appeared on CNN on Tuesday night for an interview after federal investigators concluded that there were no crimes committed over allegations that a noose had been left in Wallace’s garage stall.

When asked how he was doing after the FBI found that there was no hate crime, Wallace responded that he was “pissed,” saying that he is angry because people are questioning his character over the incident.

“And as a person, Don, that doesn’t need the fame, doesn’t need the hype, doesn’t need the media, I could care less,” Wallace said. “I could give two craps about that.”

After explaining the series of events that led to him finding out about the noose, which apparently was a garage pull rope that had been tied that way at least a year ago, Wallace responded to people who questioned his story by saying, “One thing you’ll never take away from me is how 100% I am. How raw I am, how real I am. And how I’ll shoot it to you straight each and every time because that’s how I was brought up and that’s what I stand by and in my statement on Sunday night. This will not break me.”

“None of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down,” Wallace continued. “Will it piss me off? Absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up, to get back out on the race track next weekend in Pocono and showcase what I can do behind the wheel. Tremendous amounts of BS, whatever it is that you want to say, you won’t break me, you won’t tear me down. Again, I will still stand proud of where I’m at.”

“I have been racing all my life. We have raced out of hundreds of garages. They never had garage pulls like that,” Wallace claimed. “People that call it a garage pull and put out videos and photos of knots being in as their evidence, go ahead. But from the evidence that we have, that I have. It’s a straight up noose. The FBI has stated that it was a noose, over and over again. NASCAR leadership has stated it was a noose. I can confirm that. I actually got evidence of what was hanging in my garage over my car, to confirm that it was a noose.”

Later, when asked if he was worried about backlash, Wallace said, “You get backlash every day. We talked about that. Whatever, I’m used to it. It stings a little bit worse when they are trying to test your character and take something away from me that’s false. But the backlash will always be there. It doesn’t matter if we provide 100% facts and evidence, photo evidence. People are going to photoshop it to make me look like the bad person at the end of the day.”

“I will always have haters, I will always have the motivators to go out there and to try to dethrone me from the pedestal that I am on,” Wallace continued. “For all the kids that are watching and that want to be in sports, just know that you will automatically become or be put on a pedestal. Whether you like it or not. That happens when you have a voice and you have a platform. People are going to try to take that away from you with all their power. They will lose sleep over making sure you don’t succeed. So you have to be strong, always keep your head on a swivel, and always watch your back.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

CNN’s DON LEMON: I want to hear from Bubba Wallace himself. He is back with me tonight. Bubba, good evening to you. I think you have handled this like a champ. And I’m appreciative that you came to speak to us tonight because we first talked about the Confederate flag on this show and many other issues. So again, thank you. So much has happened in the last few hours. The federal investigation shows this wasn’t a hate crime. Talk to me about what’s going through your head? How are you feeling right now?

NASCAR DRIVER BUBBA WALLACE: I’m pissed. I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity and they’re not stealing that from me but trying to test that. And as a person, Don, that doesn’t need the fame, doesn’t need the hype, doesn’t need the media, I could care less. I could give two craps about that. To sit there and read and that’s my problem, I’m reading too much into it, investing too much time into it.

LEMON: Don’t, don’t, don’t do that.

WALLACE: I know. I’m trying hard not to and after tonight I’ll probably turn my phone off tonight. Unfortunately until about 7:30 A.M. When interviewing start again. But Don, to hear my side of the story and I don’t mean to steal your spotlight on the show, but my side needs to be heard. I don’t know what time it was about 5:30-6:00 on Sunday evening after the race has been called, garages are closed. Crews, my crew was on a plane back to North Carolina. We were I was about it go out to dinner with a couple fellow competitors and we were talking about what time to leave and where we were going and I get a phone call from the president Steve Phelps. And it’s a phone call, Don, that I’ll never forget. It’s one of those calls where you can automatically tell within the first couple seconds that something is wrong. And it immediately made me think of, what did I do? What am I getting suspended for? What did I say wrong in an interview? Whatever it was, I’m thinking bad things that I had done. Whatever I said. … He walks down and opens the door. And the look that he had on his face, alerted me in a way I’ll never forget as well and I’m still thinking like, okay what did I do, let me know. And mind you I got to the racetrack at 10:00. And slept all day. Just because that’s what we were able to do. Go to the motor home. I’m not allowed to be in the garage. The conversation that I had with Steve Phelps was I would say, and I’m speaking for him — I would say one of the hardest things if not the hardest thing he’s ever had to tell somebody. Tears rolling down his face. Choked up on every word that he was trying to say that the evidence that he had brought to me that a hate crime was committed. And I immediately thought my family was in danger. And so I was about ready to call my mom and dad and make sure everybody was okay. It was in the garage stall where our car was at. I was kind of like taken back and not really comprehending everything. … But I never seen the noose. I never reported it. I was going to dinner.

LEMON: Let me jump in. No one is accusing you of doing anything wrong. The knuckle heads who are criticizing you, … fair minded people are not accusing you of doing anything wrong. You were simply reacting to what NASCAR what the head of NASCAR told you happened. Listen, this is how I feel about it. People can think what they want. Did NASCAR get it wrong? I shouldn’t say that. Did they jump the gun maybe, yes. I am extremely happy with what I think most Americans are, what NASCAR is doing. And I think in this environment and I have said it before, this hyper charged environment that we should all cut each other some slack, okay? Because if NASCAR hadn’t done the right thing and didn’t act the way they did people would be criticizing them for moving slowly. And so, I think what they said was we are investigating. And they investigated. And found out that it wasn’t a hate crime. So, did they perhaps act quickly? Yes. Did they get wrong, somewhat. I think that people will forgive them for the mistake because of the times that we’re in. And so I think that you have conducted yourself in — amazingly. So, I don’t think you should be worried about that. I think you and NASCAR should pick up from here and go on and continue to do what you’re doing. You have the support of team members and NASCAR. And so, look at this as something that happens when you are evolving and changing. Everything is not perfect. I mean that about everyone. We’re in such a hypercharged environment with the coronavirus, with racism, with watching people die on television, with seeing Confederate flags that were banned. Let’s not forget the people feel the way a certain kind of way about you and the flag. So I don’t think that you should feel badly about what happened.

WALLACE: I know. I’m with you on that. I appreciate the words. You talk about it earlier the people who don’t want to hear the truth and — people that want to know me and get to know me the new fans that have come into the sport I appreciate it. One thing you’ll never take away from me is how 100% I am. How raw I am, how real I am. And how I’ll shoot it to you straight each and every time because that’s how I was brought up and that’s what I standby and in my statement on Sunday night, this will not break me. None of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down. Will it piss me off? Absolutely. But that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up, to get back out on the race track next weekend in Pocono and showcase what I can do behind the wheel tremendous amounts of BS, whatever it is that you want to say, you won’t break me, you won’t tear me down. Again, I will still stand proud of where I’m at.

LEMON: You’re going to continue to be out front, right?

WALLACE: That’s it. That’s all you got to do.

LEMON: I mention this when we talk about the flag. The reports of the noose came on the same day. This is why you can understand what happened. On the same day we saw a Confederate flag flying over Talladega that said “defund NASCAR,” there were people who had flags on their trucks and on their cars and across the the street. Do you think the controversy over that flag issue affected the response to the incident?

WALLACE: We were worried about as I say ‘we’ I say NASCAR was worried about Talladega. It’s one of the best to go to. We always tell new fans and family and friend that Talladega’s one of the races you need to go to because of the atmosphere. I love going there. We had that circled on the radar with everything going around let’s be extra careful. That definitely intensified everything that went on. And unfortunate that everything played out the way it did. But there has some parallels to that, for sure.

LEMON: Have you seen ropes like that hanging from garages? Is that typical?

WALLACE: Don, the image I have and I have seen of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull. I have been racing all my life. We have raced out of hundreds of garages. That never had garage pulls like that. People that call it a garage pull and put out videos and photos of knots being in as their evidence, go ahead. But from the evidence that we have, that I have, it’s a straight up noose. The FBI has stated that it was a noose, over and over again. NASCAR leadership has stated it was a noose. I can confirm that. I actually got evidence of what was hanging in my garage over my car, to confirm that it was a noose. And never seen anything like it. It’s not something — I talked to the crew chief, I said, is this something like — I want to make sure we weren’t jumping the gun. … This is something that took time.

LEMON: What are you saying? Are you saying that you don’t believe — do you believe it was intended for you in that way? Or are you — what are you saying?

WALLACE: It was a noose. Whether tied in 2019 or whatever. It was a noose. So it wasn’t directed to me. Somebody tied a noose. That’s what I’m saying. It is a noose.

LEMON: Yeah. Let me just read from NASCAR here, they said, ‘We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional racist act against Bubba. We remain in the commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing. What do you think about that? It seems like NASCAR has your back. Are you worried about the backlash?

WALLACE: You get backlash every day. We talked about that. Whatever, I’m used to it. It stings a little bit worse when they are trying to test your character and take something away from me that’s false. But the backlash will always be there. It doesn’t matter if we provide 100% facts and evidence, photo evidence. People are going to photoshop it to make me look like the bad person at the end of the day. I will always have haters, I will always have the motivators to go out there and to try to dethrone me from the pedestal that I am on. For all the kids that are watching and that want to be in sports, just know that you will automatically become or be put on a pedestal. Whether you like it or not. That happens when you have a voice and you have a platform. People are going to try to take that away from you with all their power. They will lose sleep over making sure you don’t succeed. So you have to be strong, always keep your head on a swivel. And always watch your back. Stand up for what’s right.

LEMON: Let me ask you this, because I felt this before as someone in the position as sometimes the only African-American in the room. And on the job. Do you feel like you’re on the ledge by yourself because you’re the only one speaking out? I haven’t seen representatives of NASCAR, not to be critical of them, on television. You know what I’m saying?

WALLACE: Yeah. I don’t feel alone. I don’t. I have had really good conversations with numerous amounts of drivers. … This is about what you feel in your heart. I feel like there’s a ton of support. We have seen everybody come together on Monday. That was one of the coolest things that I have ever been able to be a part of. Not saying that I wanted that. Drivers wanted to do that and show support of me and now it kind of looks bad, but it doesn’t.

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