NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown announced on Thursday a sponsorship deal with cryptocurrency meme coin LGBcoin – a reference to the controversial “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase.
Now, NASCAR is reviewing the deal.
According to Max Marcucci, a spokesperson for Brown’s team, NASCAR gave the team written approval on the sponsorship and paint scheme late last year and said the team went through the usual sponsorship approval process.
Marcucci said NASCAR called following the announcement and acknowledged to the team that it had received approval and “apologized for any confusion and miscommunication,” but said that the deal “needs to be reviewed at a higher level.”
CNN has reached out to NASCAR for comment.
According to Thursday’s press release, Brown “will sport an eye-catching red, white, and blue livery with the logo and wordmark of LGBcoin aboard his No. 68 Chevrolet Camaro for all 33 races of the NXS season.” Brown posted a video of the car on social media.
James Koutoulas, leading holder of LGBcoin and founder of Typhoon Capital Management said in the release: “We are proud to support Brandon this season, to help him continue his American dream. If we do our job right, when you think of us, and you hear, ‘Let’s Go Brandon,’ you’ll think and feel, ‘Let’s Go America.’”
The meme coin, according to the release, is an “America’s Coin” that “aims to inspire positivity and unity, grounded in a strong belief of the American dream.”
Brown’s team told CNN in a statement on Sunday that it was “very aware and appreciative of the process required to approve sponsors and paint schemes and would not attempt to circumvent that process.”
“Brandonbilt Motorsports submitted our most recent sponsors and paint scheme to NASCAR, following the standard approval process that we have undertaken many times before without issue,” read the statement from Brown’s team.
“We received written approval on the sponsors from a NASCAR Racing Operations official on December 26, 2021. The team subsequently moved forward with an announcement only after being provided with this approval.
“The sponsor approval was unambiguous – the first four words of the email from NASCAR state, ‘The sponsors are approved.’ The only feedback offered was related to minor graphic design changes to ensure legibility on the track at 170mph.
“We will continue to work with NASCAR and look forward to resolving this matter and clearing the air as soon as possible.”
The ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ chant started after Brown won his first career race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in early October.
After the victory, Brown was being interviewed when the crowd started to chant, “F**k Joe Biden.” The reporter interviewing Brown said the crowd was instead chanting, “”Let’s go Brandon.’”
In November’s NASCAR’s state of the sport address, President Steve Phelps distanced the sport from the chant.
“I feel for Brandon,” Phelps said. “I think unfortunately it speaks to the state of where we are as a country. 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.
“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.”
Brown then told The New York Times on December 19: “Our whole navigation is, you want to appeal to everybody, because, all in all, everybody is a consumer. I have zero desire to be involved in politics.”
The next day, the Woodbridge, Virginia native wrote an opinion piece in Newsweek. Brown said 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.”
Brown went on to write, “I have no interest in leading some political fight. 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.”
In recent days the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant has gathered renewed political significance following a livestreamed phone call on Christmas Eve between Biden and Jared Schmeck, a 35-year-old father in Oregon.
With families watching a live “Santa tracker” event featuring the President and first lady Jill Biden, Schmeck called in and was one of the people chosen to speak to the first family.
During the call, Schmeck described what his young children wanted for Christmas nd then after both of the Bidens took turns wishing him and his family “a wonderful Christmas,” the father of four responded with “Merry Christmas” followed by the coded phrase, “Let’s go Brandon!”
“Let’s go Brandon” has become a right-wing chant that means, “F**k Joe Biden,” though Schmeck later told a local Oregon newspaper he made the remark in a “joking manner.”
The 35-year-old father then appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast where he said: “Donald Trump is my president and he should still be president right now.”