By Wayne Sterling, 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, his team acknowledged to CNN on Wednesday.
NASCAR’s refusal to allow the LGBcoin.io sponsorship to be on Brown’s number 68 car was first reported by FOX Sports and The Athletic. Brown announced the sponsorship deal last Thursday and posted a video of the car on social media.
“NASCAR did not speak with Brandonbilt Motorsports prior to making their decision to rescind the approval and multiple attempts to set-up a conversation to address this matter went unacknowledged,” Max Marcucci, Brandonbilt Motorsports spokesperson said in a statement.
“The bottom line is that Brandonbilt Motorsports followed the standard process for sponsor and paint scheme approval and received approval from a NASCAR official empowered to make those decisions, and who makes those decisions on a regular basis. This official then confirmed and reiterated that we had received approval in a phone conversation after the announcement was made.
“We are disappointed that NASCAR leadership has chosen to rescind approval of this sponsorship and feel they should have the confidence to own their decision to backtrack and not gaslight a team or a driver.
“Like every team, we rely on productive and friendly working relationships at all levels of NASCAR. Unfortunately, NASCAR leadership’s handling of this situation now threatens to strain our relationships and places us in an incredibly awkward position, yet again.”
CNN has reached out to NASCAR for comment.
According to the Washington Post, citing a NASCAR official with knowledge of the deliberations, NASCAR executives reviewed the sponsorship proposal on Tuesday. Marcucci said the team was informed of NASCAR’s decision Tuesday afternoon.
The Washington Post also reports that “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.”
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.”
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