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NASCAR Rejects Brandon Brown’s Sponsor

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We reported on Monday that NASCAR said driver Brandon Brown’s team had jumped the gun when it announced it had paired with a cryptocurrency that referenced the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant that has become popular in conservative circles as a sort of code for “f–k Joe Biden”.

Reports now indicate that NASCAR has rejected the sponsorship.

Yahoo! Sports cites tweets from two NASCAR beat reporters that claim NASCAR rejected the sponsorship on Tuesday. NASCAR has final approval over sponsorships.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps signaled a desire to avoid politics in general and the “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase specifically in November, according to a quote cited by Yahoo!:

“We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right,” Phelps said before the final race of the season. “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.”

The Yahoo! piece cites The Athletic in reporting that NASCAR had told the team in November it would not approve any sponsorship involving the phrase. Apparently, NASCAR initially missed that the sponsorship would be related to the phrase.

Brown’s team claims NASCAR had said it would approve the sponsorship, and a tweet posted online seems to show that the sponsorship initially received approval. It’s worth noting here that NASCAR can approve a paint scheme and not a sponsorship or vice-versa — the two are separate — and also that NASCAR could’ve changed its mind, or higher-ups could’ve overruled the initial approval.

Lawsuits are being threatened over NASCAR’s decision.

We won’t take sides in this, other than to point out that as a private entity, NASCAR has the right to approve (or not) sponsorships and paint schemes, and it’s not censorship, any more than us moderating a racist comment that violates our rules would be.

One reporter suggested that NASCAR didn’t have its online portal for approval requests ready to go, and that created confusion.

For the curious, here’s the NASCAR rulebook on sponsorship approval”

“NASCAR may refuse to permit a competitor to participate in an event if NASCAR determines that any advertising, sponsorship, or similar agreement to which the competitor is or will be a party, is detrimental to the sport, to NASCAR, series sponsor, or to the promotor for any reason, including without limitation, the public image of the sport.

Decals, advertising slogans, paint schemes, and other graphic designs and text on the vehicle that have not been previously approved by NASCAR must not be used unless and until they have been submitted by the 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. All NASCAR members agree to accept NASCAR’s decision in this regard.”

We’ll see if this ends up in court. For now, Brown finds himself without a sponsor and the start of the season looming.

[Image: NASCAR]

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