After picking up his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Talladega this past fall, Brandon Brown found himself in an awkward predicament following the he birth of the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant that roped the independent driver from Virginia into the political sphere, a development that he had recently lamented as hurting his career. Now, the saga continues off the track with the matter of whether or not NASCAR will sign off on a potential full season of sponsorship for him.
On Thursday, Brandonbilt Motorsports announced that cryptocurrency meme coin LGBcoin.io had signed on as the team’s full-time primary sponsor for the 2022 season. The team unveiled Brown’s new No. 68 LGBcoin Chevrolet, featuring a red, white, & blue paint scheme, with the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” on the car.
Brandonbilt Motorsports’ announcement was reportedly premature. According to Josh Peter of USA Today, NASCAR informed Brandonbilt Motorsports following their announcement that it was still reviewing the details of the sponsorship and had not yet given its approval for the car sponsorship.
This came despite claims from Brown’s team that NASCAR had provided written approval for the car’s paint scheme and sponsorship on the condition that the acronym LGB be used instead of Let’s Go Brandon. Max Marcucci, a PR strategist who represents Brown and his race team, maintained that the team did not “freelance” and is uncertain where the disconnect was.
“We put together proposed car designs a month or so ago before any of this happened because we thought (Brown) was obviously the best guy to naturally do a national sponsorship with,” James Koutoulas, leading holder of LGBcoin and founder of Typhoon Capital Management, told USA Today. “So we had it ready to go and it’s been a kind a crazy week getting all of this negotiated and done.”
After earning his first career victory at the Xfinity fall race at Talladega, Brown went from an underdog driver and surprise winner to a mainstream cultural figure when a vulgar anti-Joe Biden chant in his winner’s interview was confused by an NBC reporter for chants of “Let’s Go Brandon”. The development proved problematic for Brown as he found his marketability to sponsors hurt through guilt by association.
Brown stated in a Newsweek op-ed that he declined numerous media requests in the coming months, confessing that he was “afraid of being canceled by my sponsors, or by the media, for being caught up in something that has little to do with me.”
“The unfortunate part is it’s my name and my career that are at stake and the risk is high. If I do something wrong in this arena, my name as a driver falls off very fast,” Brown told Sports Business Journal. “Even a career in NASCAR if I didn’t make it as a driver, trying to get another job in the community, I’m always going to be the ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ guy. I’m always going to be known for that and how I handled this situation.”
Brown stated that NASCAR has also given him counsel on dealing with the issue, and the sanctioning body publicly distanced itself from anti-Biden chant during NASCAR president Steve Phelps’ year-end press conference in Phoenix.
“We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right. We obviously have and we’ve always had as a sport tremendous respect for the office of the president no matter who is sitting,” Phelps said. “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.”
2022 will mark Brown’s fourth full-time season driving for his family team. After making the Xfinity Series playoffs in 2020, Brown posted career-highs in top fives (three) and top 10s (nine) along with his first win in 2021.