NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, who inspired the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon!” — albeit unintentionally — says since the anti-Biden phrase became a nationwide chant, it’s “extremely difficult” for him to lock down sponsorships.
The phrase was born when Brown, 28, won a race on October 2, and NBC sports reporter Kelli Stavast confused the crowd jeering “F*** Joe Biden” for “Let’s Go Brandon!”
Brown says he’s not political and he just wants the whole thing to go away.
“It got extremely difficult for us,” Brown told Sports Business Journal. “If you’re a national corporation, that means you sell to all consumers … and unfortunately, when you get dragged into the political arena, people want you to take a side.”
“I’ve never been put in a position where it’s, ‘OK, what side are you on? Left or right?’ So it’s hard for a brand to want to attach to somebody who might be kind of divisive in their consumer base. If I’m going to divide Coca-Cola, why would they want to talk to me?” he said.
“So the short answer is it’s been tough to connect with partnerships just because it’s kind of viewed as a ticking time bomb: ‘What is he doing to choose or say and how would that effect our consumer base?’ It’s too much of a risk. I understand it on their side but it’s made it really hard to tie everything down.”
Brown said he has been forced to take action against some using the phrase, the Journal said.
Brown said that he has by and large not sent cease-and-desist letters to people using his name on merchandise, but he conceded that there have been a couple times where he and his representation have had to try to get something taken down related to his name or likeness, though he did not specify what. He said NASCAR has given him some counsel on how to deal with the overall situation. NASCAR President Steve Phelps said at his state-of-the-sport press conference in November that the league would protect its marks as it relates to unofficial merchandise being made around the slogan. But NASCAR would not comment further to SBJ about the topic when asked this week. Brown: “NASCAR and I are kind of in the same boat about what to do here, but I don’t think anyone has the right answer. The unfortunate part is it’s my name and my career that are at stake and the risk is high. If I do something wrong in this arena, my name as a driver falls off very fast. … Even a career in NASCAR if I didn’t make it as a driver, trying to get another job in the community, I’m always going to be the “Let’s Go Brandon” guy. I’m always going to be known for that and how I handled this situation.”
After President Joe Biden was hit with the phrase on a Christmas eve call to parents and children, NBC News dubbed it a “right-wing slur.” “President Joe Biden was subjected to a right-wing anti-Biden slur during a Christmas Eve call with NORAD’s Santa tracker,” the network said in a story posted online.
“Biden and the first lady were speaking with families around the country who had called into the North American Aerospace Defense Command to receive an update on Santa’s location when one parent ended the conversation by saying: ‘Let’s go Brandon.’ The president did not appear to recognize that the phrase is used by the right wing as a euphemism for ‘F*** Joe Biden,’ and responded: ‘Let’s go Brandon, I agree.’”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to [email protected]