NASCAR’s Brandon Brown says the “Let’s Go, Brandon” chant has hurt his ability to acquire sponsors, fearing his name has become too politicized.
The “Let’s Go, Brandon” phenomenon sparked in early October when NBC Sports reporter Kellie Stavast tried to cover up the crowd chanting “F*ck Joe Biden” when NASCAR driver Brandon Brown scored his first Xfinity Series win at the Talladega Speedway. Since then, the chant has become a fun, vulgar-free way of expressing disdain for the 46th President of the United States.
(Isaac Brekken/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Speaking with Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, Brandon said that potential sponsors have been hesitant to get behind his name due to the chant’s controversy.
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? 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.
Brandon has since gone to considerable lengths to distance himself from the chant, hoping not to become a political figure. A recent piece in the New York Times, titled “Brandon Just Wants to Drive His Racecar,” profiled his predicament. In the interview, Brandon labeled himself a Republican but insisted he had no desire to have his racing be associated with politics.
“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,” Brown said.
“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,” he added.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps has denounced the chant, calling it an “unfortunate situation” while expressing sympathy for Brandon and the reporter.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, and I feel for Brandon, I feel for Kelli,” Phelps told Fox News in November. “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.”