Brandon (Yes, That One) Would Like a Word

NASCAR driver-turned-meme would rather focus on cars than politics
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2021 10:10 AM CST
Updated Dec 25, 2021 6:15 AM CST
Brandon (Yes, That One) Would Like a Word
NASCAR driver Brandon Brown.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Even people unfamiliar with NASCAR know his name, or at least his first one. Brandon Brown is the 28-year-old driver who inadvertently became a political meme in October when his name turned into a slogan for opponents of President Biden. He's the "Brandon" of "Let's Go Brandon." Now he's speaking out at length for the first time about his unwanted role in US politics. Coverage:

  • Cars over politics: "The issue is, I don't know enough about politics to really form a true opinion, so I really focus on racing," he tells Ben Smith of the New York Times. Brown has largely avoided the subject in public until now, but the slogan doesn't appear to be going away.
  • Origin story: This all began when Brown was being interviewed live on NBC after winning a race—his first major victory—and the crowd began chanting, "F--- Joe Biden." The NBC reporter incorrectly said they were chanting, "Let's Go Brandon," and a meme was born.

  • Big problem: Brown initially had (nonpolitical) fun with his newfound celebrity on Twitter, notes Mediaite, but he soon decided to lie low. The Times' Smith lays out the problem: Politics "can be hazardous to your ability to make money," he writes, and Brown "finds himself facing a threat to his vocation: He's an athlete on the cusp of breaking out in a sport that relies on corporate sponsors, a group that likes nothing less than the whiff of divisive partisanship." His victory should have been a "celebration," he tells Smith. Instead, it became a potential hurdle to success.
  • Silent no more: In addition to his interview with Smith, Brown has written an essay at Newsweek in which he confronts the situation. "I have no interest in leading some political fight," he writes. "I race cars. I am not going to endorse anyone, and I am certainly not going to tell anyone how to vote. But I'm also no longer going to be silent about the situation I find myself in, and why millions of Americans are chanting my name. I hear them, even if Washington does not." (Brown tells Smith he's Republican, but he won't divulge whom he voted for.)
  • More on that: Going forward, Brown says he'll still focus primarily on racing, but he will occasionally speak out on issues that "are important to me and to millions of Americans." One of them is inflation, an issue he's familiar with because of rising gas prices. "I know the cost of everything is rising and I know firsthand that making ends meet can be a struggle for middle-class folks like me."
  • New slogan? Brown closes his essay with the suggestion of a new slogan: "Let's Go America."
(More Let's Go Brandon stories.)

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