Thursday, 29 September 2022

MY VIEW: NASCAR should deny Let’s Go Brandon-themed sponsor, ban political sponsorships Featured

Posted On Friday, 31 December 2021 05:41 Written by
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Brandon Brown announced a 2022 sponsor for his Brandonbilt Motorsports ride, but reports are that NASCAR has not yet approved the LGBcoin sponsorship. Brandon Brown announced a 2022 sponsor for his Brandonbilt Motorsports ride, but reports are that NASCAR has not yet approved the LGBcoin sponsorship. Image by LakeSide Media

Thursday was a roller coaster of a day for Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown and the Brandonbilt Motorsports team.

Unfortunately for them, they’re at the point of the ride where they’re barreling downhill and may be about to throw up. And it’s at least partially their own fault.

It all started Thursday morning when Brandon Brown tweeted: “I’m excited to welcome @LGBcoin_io aboard my No. 68 Chevrolet Camaro as our 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series full-season primary partner!” and included a link to a press release announcing the news.

“LGBcoin is a new, decentralized meme cryptocurrency similar to other meme coins and tokens such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, that has achieved a market capitalization of more than $300 million in less than six months. The patriotic coin dubbed “America’s Coin” aims to inspire positivity and unity, grounded in a strong belief of the American dream,” the press release reads.

“We are proud to support Brandon this season, to help him continue his American dream,” says James Koutoulas, founder of Typhoon Capital Management, in the release. “If we do our job right, when you think of us, and you hear, ‘Let’s Go Brandon,’ you’ll think and feel, ‘Let’s Go America.’”

At first glance, this was great news. Every team wants a full-season primary sponsor, especially a small family team like Brandonbilt. But immediately, the NASCAR community started to raise red flags.

First, how could a meme coin afford to sponsor a race team for a full season? Is this a legit sponsor or just a “pump and dump” scam full of smoke and mirrors where a check will never clear, as we’ve seen in the past?


Then, there arose questions about the sponsor itself. Is it even a legitimate business? Sure, cryptocurrency is on the rise in some investor circles, and other crypto sponsors are already in the sport, notably with new Kaulig driver Landon Cassill.

But then there’s this little nugget of disclosure on the LGBcoin website that really makes you question whether the sponsor is legit: “LGBcoin has no intrinsic value and you should not purchase it with any expectation that you will be able to resell it. Please do not spend money that you cannot afford.”

In essence, this meme coin isn't worth spit. Yet somehow the people behind it are going to sponsor a racecar for a full season. That’s an extra maroon red flag there.

And all that is before we even get into the politics of it all (what LGB stands for, and how the phrase is being used).

Sponsorship Not Yet Approved

Let’s move beyond the whole crypto debate about what is legitimate and what’s not. There’s one significant detail that was neglected by Brandonbilt Motorsports before the announcement was made.

Per reporting from Motorsport.com, “Late Thursday afternoon, a NASCAR spokesperson confirmed that the LGBcoin_io sponsorship for Brown has not yet been approved and the team "jumped the gun" in publicizing its announcement Thursday morning.”

As a communications professional, I can tell you that Rule No,. 1 before sending out a press release with any important news is to make sure all parties involved have signed off. That’s a big mistake on the part of Brown and his team, and they should’ve known better. Unless it was done on purpose to try to force NASCAR’s hand, which would be an even worse mistake.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps is on record as saying that NASCAR is “not happy about” how the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant has been used since the Talladega race, so for the sport’s leadership to allow a 2022 sponsorship by a meme coin related directly to that phrase would seem quite hypocritical at this point.

How did we get here?

For those who may not know the entire back story of the “Let’s Go Brandon” nonsense, here’s a Cliffs notes version. After Brandon Brown won his first-ever Xfinity race at Talladega earlier this year, and was being interviewed by an NBC reporter on the front stretch, a bunch of so-called “fans” decided to ruin Brown’s career-defining moment by screaming out obscenities about President Joe Biden. The NBC reporter interviewing Brown heard people chanting, and mentioned that the crowd was cheering “Let’s Go Brandon” — which, to be fair, is what they SHOULD HAVE been chanting, considering he had just won a thrilling race and it was his moment to be celebrated.

Since the Talladega race, lunatics on the right-wing political fringe have taken the “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase and ran with it, in all the worst ways possible. One classless loser even took the opportunity to directly say it to President Biden on a phone call Dec. 24 where they were talking about SANTA CLAUS of all things, thinking he was being clever. Oh, and he did it in front of his kids, too. The bar of decency is lowered yet again.

So if you were wondering why something like a silly crypto meme coin would be so controversial as a sponsor, now you know.

Keep politics out of NASCAR

Getting back to Thursday’s news, it’s abundantly clear the “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase — which is the very basis of LGBcoin — is extremely political at this point. The worst people in our nation, those who lack even basic civility, have made Let’s Go Brandon a toxic phrase that is beyond redemption, because we all know what they really mean.

So the LGB meme coin, regardless of its legitimacy or illegitimacy as a solvent business venture and whether they can pay the sponsorship bills, should be an automatic NO to be run on the track. It will only attract the worst type of attention to the sport, and distract from the on-track racing — which is what should matter in our sport.

On the positive side, there is talk that NASCAR will ban all political sponsors from the sport in 2022, and I am fully in support of this decision if it is made.

You don’t see political sponsors in other sports. And we don’t need a “Vote DeSantis” or “Re-elect Biden” car on the track this year or any year. There are about 800 million political ads in every area of our lives already, to the point of inducing nausea most election cycles. Let us watch NASCAR without all of that intruding on the on-track experience.

Just like we don’t need candidates being stumped for at 200 mph at Daytona, we don’t need an Xfinity Series paint scheme inspired by “Let’s Go Brandon” — which has been co-opted by the worst right-wing ideologues in the country — on a car throughout 2022. Connecting it to a meme coin doesn’t erase the stench that the phrase has developed so quickly. Might as well paint a middle finger on the hood.


The sponsor, of course, claims to be nonpolitical, and simply dedicated to “positivity and patriotism”. And Brown has said he’s not advocating for or against any political side. But a quick search of the meme coin’s social media pages show that it embraces the political nature of the phrase. And coincidentally, they happened to have recently placed a “Let’s Go Brandon” booth at the Turning Point USA conference, where the usual suspects from the far-right hate machine hurled insults and threats at their opponents — including coded violent threats against Dr. Anthony Fauci. A nonpolitical organization would not engage in such activities, so if political sponsors are banned by NASCAR, the LGBcoin sponsorship has to fall in that banned group.

For anyone who would defend political sponsors due to the embracing of Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements by NASCAR in the past few years, let me give you a quick explainer on why that logic is faulty. There is nothing inherently political about wanting all people to be treated equally regardless of race/gender/sexual orientation/etc. It’s called being a good person, and should be a stance held by everyone across all political spectrums. That’s not politics, it’s humanity.

On the other hand, a sponsor that is essentially saying “F--- You” to an entire political party is clearly political. It’s not hard to understand.

Tough situation for Brown

On some level, I feel for Brandon Brown. He’s a solid racer who deserves proper recognition for his efforts and the years of hard work it took him to get that win. He didn’t ask for those jackass fans to launch a series of events that turned his name into a political phrase so they could hurl childish insults at the president.

I’m sure Brown wishes that never happened, and they really had been cheering “Let’s Go Brandon”. Had that happened, none of this nonsense is being discussed right now.

But here we are. And Brandon Brown really has to make a choice, whether he likes it or not. Currently, he is trying to ride the fence. In his recently published op-ed and conversations with media, he has said that he wants to change the meaning of the phrase to be more akin to “Let’s Go America”.

But in this scenario, unfortunately you can’t ride the fence, because to do so condones the worst type of behavior in our society. The best thing for Brandon to do would have been staying silent about the chant. But since he has now spoken out, he needs to vocally condemn anyone using this phrase the way they are using it, NOT lean into it by turning the phrase into a sponsorship. That is 100 percent the wrong thing to do, and will make Brown, his team and NASCAR all look foolish if it moves forward.

As an independent team dependent on sponsorship to survive, Brown and Brandonbilt Motorsports are in a tough spot that wasn’t entirely of their own making. But as seen by last year’s viral video of him seeking sponsorship, Brown can be creative when it comes to attracting sponsors. If this toxic sponsor is forced to go away, he can focus on getting other sponsors who won’t taint the sport with their insidious messaging.

NASCAR should make things nice and sparkling clear and tell the team that this sponsor is a no-go. Nip it in the bud. Prohibit the LGBcoin sponsorship, ban all political sponsors effective immediately, and be consistent about it — left, center or right — and let’s focus on the racing, which is the reason the fans tune in every week.

Allowing a circus sideshow like the LGBcoin sponsorship into the sport would be a harmful move, and one I hope the sport does not take.

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Matt Myftiu can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

 

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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