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The Margin: NASCAR rejects driver’s sponsorship deal with ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ cryptocurrency

“Let’s Go Brandon” is a no-go for NASCAR.

NASCAR has rejected a sponsorship deal between driver Brandon Brown and the cryptocurrency LGBCoin, according to multiple news reports.

Brown’s racing team, Brandonbilt Motorsports, had prematurely announced last week that LGBCoin — a reference to the anti-Biden chant — would be its 2022 sponsor for the second-tier NASCAR Xfinity Series.

NASCAR did not comment publicly, but a NASCAR official reportedly told Axios on Wednesday that “no form of this derogatory and vulgar euphemism would be allowed on any paint scheme or sponsorship.”

LGBCoin, a nearly valueless cryptocurrency, is named after the chant “Let’s Go Brandon,” a euphemism for “F— Joe Biden.” The phrase originated after Brown won the first race of his career at Talladega, Ala., last October. While being interviewed on live TV, and as the crowd chanted the anti-Biden slogan, NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast made a winking reference to the background noise, saying they must be chanting “Let’s Go Brandon.”

After the phrase quickly became a political meme, Brown publicly worried the chant was portraying him in a negative light and attempted to distance himself from it. “I have no interest in leading some political fight. I race cars,” he wrote in an op-ed published in Newsweek. But ultimately he said he would embrace his time in the spotlight.

A Brandonbilt Motorsports spokesman told Fox Business that a NASCAR official had previously approved the deal by phone.

“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,” Brandonbilt Motorsports spokesperson Max Marcucci told Fox Business on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, NASCAR leadership’s handling of this situation now threatens to strain our relationships and places us in an incredibly awkward position, yet again.”

In November, NASCAR President Steve Phelps made it clear he was uncomfortable with the phrase. “We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right,” Phelps said. “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 has made inclusivity a major point for NASCAR, as he has tried to broaden the sport’s traditionally Southern, white conservative fan base. In recent years NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag and has vowed to do better at addressing social injustice.

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