Brandon Brown won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race in October of 2021. He finished first in the race, his 114th on the circuit, and was understandably elated.
“Oh my god, this is a dream come true!” Brown yelled during his post-race interview on NBC.
Brown likely expected that would be the lasting image of his first-ever victory in a NASCAR race. Little did he know that something else entirely would take center stage.
The “Let’s Go Brandon” expression originated as a result of Brown’s win. What exactly does that harmless-sounding slogan mean? Here’s an explanation of how a NASCAR interview unknowingly created the anti-Joe Biden phrase.
What does Let’s Go Brandon mean?
“Let’s Go Brandon” is a political slogan and chant that is used as a coded anti-Joe Biden message. The phrase has become synonymous with, “F— Joe Biden” after Kellie Stavast’s interview with Brandon Brown at the Talladega Motor Speedway in October of 2021.
How did Let’s Go Brandon start?
The Let’s Go Brandon campaign originated during the 2021 Sparks 300 at Talladega Motor Speedway in Alabama. The race — held on Oct. 2, 2021 — was a part of NASCAR’s Xfinity Series last season and was won by Brandon Brown.
Brown was interviewed after the victory, his first in his six seasons participating in the Xfinity Series. During his interview, the crowd on hand in Talladega began chanting, “F— Joe Biden,” a practice that had become a common refrain at college football games in the southern United States over the previous month.
NBC’s NASCAR reporter Kelli Stavast referenced the chants while asking Brown about his victory. However, she incorrectly noted that the crowd was chanting, “Let’s go Brandon,” in celebration of his win.
It’s unclear whether Stavast misheard the chant or simply chose to misquote it. Either way, the interview — and the phrase Let’s Go Brandon —went viral shortly after it occurred and was adopted by many conservative Republicans who are critical of Joe Biden.
Let’s Go Brandon interview
Below is Stavast’s interview with Brown. She addresses the chanting at the 1:04 mark in the video.
Who is Brandon Brown?
Brown is a 28-year-old driver who has been a part of NASCAR’s Xfinity Series since 2016. He has run 119 races during his six-year time on the circuit and has won one while logging 19 top-10 finishes.
Brown’s racing career began in 2010, when he competed in the Whelen All-American Series. He participated as part of his family-owned team, Brandonbilt Motorsports. He won Virginia Rookie of the Year as a part of that circuit and won three races at Old Dominion Speedway during his second season.
Brown is a graduate of Coastal Carolina University and also drove in the Camping World Truck Series from 2014 through 2017. He never won a truck race and logged just one top-10 finish in 22 races.
In the aftermath of his viral interview, Brown fired off a joke on Twitter during which he said “you’re welcome” to his fellow Brandons.
To all the other Brandon’s out there, You’re welcome!
Let’s go us
— Brandon Brown (@brandonbrown_68) October 6, 2021
However, Brown was largely ambivalent about the Let’s Go Brandon slogan. He tried to avoid referencing it for the most part to maintain a neutral appeal.
“Our whole navigation is, you want to appeal to everybody, because, all in all, everybody is a consumer,” Brown told the New York Times. “I have zero desire to be involved in politics.”
Brown did tell the New York Times that he is a Republican, but he admitted that his focus is generally not on politics.
“The issue is, I don’t know enough about politics to really form a true opinion, so I really focus on racing,” he said.
Brown doubled down on that statement in an opinion piece he wrote for Newsweek the day after his story in the Times was released. However, he acknowledged that he “was afraid of being canceled by his sponsors or by the media for being caught up in something that has little to do with me.”
“I have no interest in leading some political fight,” Brown said. “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.”
Did NASCAR ban a Let’s Go Brandon car, sponsorship?
Because of his unintentional association with Let’s Go Brandon, Brown had trouble finding potential sponsors even after winning his first race. He did find one heading into the 2022 NASCAR season, but it ruffled some 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 looking to capitalize on the meme coin/meme stock fad.
The announcement of Brown’s sponsorship came via a tweet from Brandonbilt Motorsports on Dec. 30, 2021.
— Brandonbilt Motorsports (@BMSRaceTeam) December 30, 2021
However, NASCAR rejected the sponsorship deal, which they can do, according to the sport’s rulebook. The rules state that NASCAR can reject sponsors that may be “detrimental to the sport, to NASCAR … for any reason, including without limitation, the public image of the sport,” per Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass.
Brandonbilt Motorsports was not happy with the decision. Team spokesperson Max Marcucci claimed that NASCAR didn’t speak with the team before informing them of the sponsorship’s rejection. He also said that NASCAR initially approved the sponsor before backtracking.
“The bottom line is that Brandonbilt Motorsports followed the standard process for sponsor and paint scheme approval and received approval from a NASCAR official empowered to make those decisions, and who makes those decisions on a regular basis,” Marcucci said. “This official then confirmed and reiterated that we had received approval in a phone conversation after the announcement was made.
“We are disappointed that NASCAR leadership has chosen to rescind approval of this sponsorship and feel they should have the confidence to own their decision to backtrack and not gaslight a team or a driver.”
That said, as Jeff Gluck of The Athletic reports, NASCAR said in November that they wouldn’t approve any Let’s Go Brandon sponsorship. They only initially approved the sponsorship because they thought it was solely a cryptocurrency company with no political ties.
Further context: NASCAR told Brandonbilt in November it wouldn’t approve any Let’s Go Brandon sponsorship. Team submitted request over Christmas w/o specifying it was a political thing (just listed as crypto). NASCAR initially missed that 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 on Brown’s car was denied. However, LGBcoin.io extended its personal service contract with Brown, so they will continue to be associated with him moving forward.
Meanwhile, NASCAR is expected to revise its rulebook to ban political sponsorships in order to avoid controversies, per the Sports Business Journal.
Timeline of politicians using Let’s Go Brandon
Though NASCAR and Brown have, largely, backed away from Let’s Go Brandon, Republican politicians have not. Several prominent elected officials have publicly used it since Brown’s interview took place.
Below is a timeline of its use in the political sphere.
Oct. 21, 2021: Florida congressman Bill Posey concluded remarks on the House floor by saying, “Let’s Go Brandon.”
Oct. 22, 2021: Texas governor Greg Abbott uses the phrase in a tweet criticizing “record levels of inflation” and “the crisis at [the United States’] southern border.”
Oct. 27, 2021: South Carolina representative Jeff Duncan wears a “Let’s Go Brandon” mask on the House floor.
Oct. 30, 2021: Texas senator Ted Cruz poses with a sign featuring the phrase during the Astros’ World Series appearance.
Nov. 3, 2021: Florida governor Ron DeSantis refers to the Biden administration as the “Brandon administration.” He later signs an anti-vaccine-mandate bill in Brandon, Fla.
Nov. 18, 2021: Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert donned a red dress with the phrase printed in white lettering on the back while meeting with former president Donald Trump.
Jan. 10, 2022: U.S. Senate candidate for Arizona, Jim Lamon, releases the first ad to contain that phrase while promoting his candidacy. It airs during the College Football Playoff in Arizona.
Feb. 13, 2022: Pennsylvania Senate candidate David McCormick runs an ad featuring a Let’s Go Brandon chant in the background. It airs during Super Bowl 56 in Pennsylvania.