NASCAR said no to ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ sponsorship. Now sponsor is threatening to sue
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - NASCAR has denied a request by Brandon Brown’s Xfinity Series team to feature a sponsor promoting “Let’s Go Brandon,” a viral slogan that’s coded criticism of President Joe Biden.
Brown and his team announced the sponsor LGBCoin, a cryptocurrency company whose first three letters reference the phrase, last week, seemingly believing the sponsorship was approved by NASCAR. Teams must submit sponsorships and paint schemes to NASCAR for approval through a formal process.
NASCAR, however, said that it had not officially approved the sponsorship at the time of the announcement, and on Tuesday, informed Brown’s team that it denied the request.
NASCAR has publicly dismissed its affiliation with “Let’s Go Brandon,” which was coined after events at a NASCAR race at Talladega last October.
An NBC Sports reporter suggested that fans were chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” during a post-race interview with Brown following his win.
The crowd was actually chanting “F--- Joe Biden.”
“Let’s Go Brandon” has since become a widely known right-wing rally cry against the president, and NASCAR’s sanctioning body has taken a hard stance against it.
“We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said in November. “I think it’s an unfortunate situation,” Phelps added. “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.” NASCAR officials met with members of Brown’s Brandonbilt Motorsports team during NASCAR’s championship race weekend at Phoenix, and said then that the use of the slogan would not be approved in any official context, including for sponsorships, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. In an interview with The New York Times in December, Brown said that he had “zero desire to be involved in politics.”
He also said that he was struggling to secure corporate partnerships due to the slogan.
James Koutoulas, LGBcoin investor and Typhoon Capital Management founder who was quoted in the team’s announcement, tweeted Tuesday evening that Brown “went through the proper NASCAR approval process and received written formal approval” for the LGBcoin scheme.
Koutoulas’ tweet included screenshots of an email exchange that occurred Dec. 25-26 between a senior racing operations manager at NASCAR, Dale Howell, and Brandonbilt Motorsports’ business development and public relations officer Mac MacLeod in which the sponsor was described as a “cryptocurrency.”
Howell’s response indicated that the sponsorship was approved, but other NASCAR officials were not aware of the political nature of the scheme and sponsorship, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. NASCAR has typically approved cryptocurrency sponsors. It has also previously approved political paint schemes. Go Fas Racing ran a “Trump 2020″ paint scheme sponsored by a Patriots of America PAC to promote the former president’s reelection campaign.
NASCAR is now in the process of reviewing its rules regarding sponsorships, including political sponsorships, with updates expected within the next few weeks.
NASCAR’s rules state that any new paint schemes must be submitted by the team’s crew chief to NASCAR headquarters and approved by NASCAR prior to the event.
“The review and approval of decals, advertising slogans, paint schemes, and other graphic designs and text on the vehicle that have not been previously approved by NASCAR is at the sole discretion of NASCAR and such approval may be withheld for any reason,” the rule states. “All NASCAR Members agree to accept NASCAR’s decision in this regard.”
Koutoulas’ tweet threatened legal action against NASCAR. “If @nascar revokes approval, we will bring suit upon them on behalf of all @LGBcoin_io HODLers who were damaged by their reliance on @nascar written approval & #cancelnascar,” Koutoulas wrote.
NASCAR declined to comment and is not expected to issue a statement responding to the situation.
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