Brandon Brown won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race in October 2021. He finished first in the race, his 114th on the circuit, and was understandably thrilled.
“Oh my god, this is a dream come true!” Brown cried out during his post-race interview on NBC.
Brown probably expected this to be the lasting image of his first-ever victory in a NASCAR race. Little did he know that something entirely different would take center stage.
The phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” was born out of Brown’s victory. What exactly does this harmless slogan mean? Here’s an explanation of how a NASCAR interview unknowingly created the anti-Joe Biden phrase.
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What does Let’s Go Brandon mean?
“Let’s Go Brandon” is a political slogan and chant that is used as an anti-Joe Biden coded message. The phrase became synonymous with “F—Joe Biden” after Kellie Stavast’s interview with Brandon Brown at Talladega Motor Speedway in October 2021.
How did Let’s Go Brandon start?
The Let’s Go Brandon campaign was born during the 2021 Sparks 300 at Talladega Motor Speedway in Alabama. The race – held on October 2, 2021 – was part of NASCAR’s Xfinity Series last season and was won by Brandon Brown.
Brown was interviewed after the win, his first in six seasons competing on the Xfinity Series. During his interview, the crowd in attendance at Talladega began chanting “F—Joe Biden,” a practice that had become a common refrain at college football games across the southern United States over the previous month.
NBC’s NASCAR reporter Kelli Stavast referenced the chants while asking Brown about his win. However, she incorrectly noted that the crowd was chanting “Let’s go Brandon”, in celebration of her win.
It is unclear whether Stavast misheard the song or simply chose to misquote it. Either way, the interview — and the phrase Let’s Go Brandon — went viral soon after it took place and was embraced by many conservative Republicans who criticize Joe Biden.
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Interview Let’s Go Brandon
Below is Stavast’s interview with Brown. She tackles the vocals at the 1:04 mark in the video.
Who is Brandon Brown?
Brown is a 28-year-old driver who has been part of NASCAR’s Xfinity Series since 2016. He ran 119 races in his six years on the circuit and won one while recording 19 top 10 finishes.
Brown’s racing career began in 2010, when he competed in the Whelen All-American Series. He competed with his family team, Brandonbilt Motorsports. He won Virginia Rookie of the Year on that circuit and won three races at Old Dominion Speedway in his sophomore season.
Brown is a graduate of Coastal Carolina University and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series from 2014 to 2017. He has never won a truck race and recorded only one top 10 finish in 22 races.
The day after his viral interview, Brown fired up a joke on Twitter during which he said “you’re welcome” to his fellow Brandons.
To all the other Brandons, you are welcome!
—Brandon Brown (@brandonbrown_68) October 6, 2021
However, Brown was largely ambivalent about the Let’s Go Brandon slogan. He tried to avoid referring to it for the most part to maintain a neutral appeal.
“All of our navigation is, you want to appeal to everyone, because by and large everyone is a consumer,” Brown told The New York Times. “I have no desire to get involved in politics.”
Brown told The New York Times that he was a Republican, but he admitted that he doesn’t usually focus on politics.
“The problem is that I don’t know enough about politics to really form a real opinion, so I’m really focusing on the race,” he said.
Brown doubled down on that statement in an op-ed he wrote for Newsweek the day after his Times article was published. However, he admitted that he was “afraid of being canceled by his sponsors or by the media for getting caught up in something that has little to do with me”.
“I have no interest in fighting a political fight,” Brown said. “I race cars. I won’t endorse anyone and certainly won’t tell anyone how to vote.
“But neither will I be silent about the situation I find myself in and why millions of Americans are chanting my name. I hear them, even if Washington doesn’t.”
Did NASCAR ban a Let’s Go Brandon car, sponsorship?
Due to his unwitting association with Let’s Go Brandon, Brown struggled to find potential sponsors even after winning his first race. He found one before the 2022 NASCAR season, but he ruffled a few feathers.
Brown agreed to a deal with LGBcoin.io to sponsor his car. The coin – officially known as the Let’s Go Brandon Coin – is a cryptocurrency that seeks to capitalize on the meme coin/stock craze.
The announcement of Brown’s sponsorship came via a tweet from Brandonbilt Motorsports on December 30, 2021.
Press release: https://t.co/N2pgIdgsnt pic.twitter.com/yiOq3d0R7P
—Brandonbilt Motorsports (@BMSRaceTeam) December 30, 2021
However, NASCAR rejected the sponsorship deal, which they can do, according to the rules of the sport. The rules state that NASCAR may reject sponsors who may be “harmful to the sport, to NASCAR … for any reason, including, but not limited to, the public image of the sport”, per Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports.
Brandonbilt Motorsports was not happy with the decision. Team spokesman Max Marcucci claimed that NASCAR did not speak with the team before informing them of the sponsorship rejection. He also said NASCAR initially approved the sponsor before backtracking.
“The bottom line is that Brandonbilt Motorsports has gone through the standard process for approval of sponsors and paint schemes and has received approval from a NASCAR official who has the authority to make those decisions, and who makes those decisions on a regular basis,” said said Marcucci. “This manager then confirmed and reiterated that we had received the approval during a telephone conversation after the announcement.
“We are disappointed that NASCAR management has chosen to rescind the approval of this sponsorship and believe they should have the confidence to take ownership of their decision to go back and not gaslight a team or driver. .”
That said, as The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck reports, NASCAR said in November that it would not approve any sponsorship of Let’s Go Brandon. They initially only approved the sponsorship because they believed it was purely a cryptocurrency company with no political ties.
Additional Context: NASCAR told Brandonbilt in November that it would not approve any sponsorship of Let’s Go Brandon. The team submitted a request at Christmas without specifying that it was a political thing (just listed as crypto). NASCAR initially missed this part, but was never going to be approved. https://t.co/4DEobLQusD
—Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) January 5, 2022
As such, the official sponsorship and paint scheme for Brown’s car was declined. However, LGBcoin.io has extended his personal service contract with Brown, so they will continue to be associated with him in the future.
Meanwhile, NASCAR should revise its rules to prohibit political sponsorships to avoid controversy, according to the Sports Business Journal.
Timeline of politicians using Let’s Go Brandon
Although NASCAR and Brown have largely walked away from Let’s Go Brandon, Republican politicians have not. Several prominent elected officials have used it publicly since Brown’s interview.
Below is a timeline of its use in the political sphere.
October 21, 2021: Florida Congressman Bill Posey concluded his remarks on the floor of the House by saying, “Let’s go Brandon.”
October 22, 2021: Texas Governor Greg Abbott use the phrase in a tweet criticizing “record levels of inflation” and “the crisis in [the United States’] southern border.”
October 27, 2021: South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan wears a “Let’s Go Brandon” mask on the floor of the house.
October 30, 2021: Texas Senator Ted Cruz poses with a sign with the phrase during the Astros’ World Series appearance.
November 3, 2021: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calls the Biden administration the “Brandon administration.” He later signs an anti-vaccine bill in Brandon, Florida.
November 18, 2021: Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert donned a red dress with the phrase printed in white lettering on the back during her meeting with former President Donald Trump.
January 10, 2022: US Senate candidate for Arizona, Jim Lamon, posts the first ad containing this phrase while promoting his candidacy. It airs during the college football playoffs in Arizona.
February 13, 2022: Pennsylvania Senate candidate David McCormick airs a commercial with a Let’s Go Brandon chant in the background. It airs during Super Bowl 56 in Pennsylvania.