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NASCAR driver Brandon Brown addresses anti-Biden "let's go, Brandon" chants

NASCAR driver Brandon Brown has found himself inadvertently thrust into the national spotlight after many conservatives adopted the phrase "let's go, Brandon" as a thinly veiled insult to President Joe Biden. But the 28-year-old driver addressed the meme in an op-ed in Newsweek published Monday, saying he understands why so many Americans are frustrated with the government, even though he has "no interest in leading some political fight."

Brown acknowledged the phrase's popularity, while noting it didn't equate to support for him as a driver. He wrote that he is "fully aware" many who use the expression know little to nothing about him. Brown also admitted that, while he prefers to stay apolitical, he understands the sentiment behind the expression.

"I understand that millions of people are struggling right now and are frustrated," Brown wrote. "Struggling to get by and struggling to build a solid life for themselves and their families, and wondering why their government only seems to make it worse. People have a right to frustration — even anger."  

The origins of the phrase trace back to a post-race interview Brown gave last October at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. After his fitst ever NASCAR win, Brown was being interviewed by an NBC Sports reporter, during which the crowd behind him was chanting something that was at first difficult to make out. The reporter suggested they were chanting "Let's go, Brandon," but by then it was clear the crowd was saying: "F--- Joe Biden." The "Lets Go Brandon" phrase subsequently became code for the vulgar insult toward the president, mainly used by Republicans.  

NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300
Brandon Brown waves to fans during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 23, 2021 in Kansas City, Kansas. Getty Images

In the op-ed, Brown said that he initially received advice to "stay quiet," and he declined interviews over fears of how sponsors would react. He give a similar answer during a recent interview with The New York Times as well.

"This whole Talladega race win was supposed to be a celebration, and then it was supposed to be something that I was able to use to move up, and I really wanted to capitalize on that," Brown told the Times. "But with this meme going viral, it was more of, I had to stay more silent, because everybody wanted it to go on to the political side. I'm about the racing side." 

Brown, who drives a Chevrolet Camaro for Brandonbilt Motorsports, stopped short of fully embracing the meaning of the phrase, but he made a vow to speak out on issues impacting middle-class Americans, like rising gas prices and inflation. 

"I race cars. I am not going to endorse anyone, and I am certainly not going to tell anyone how to vote," he wrote." 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 also told the New York Times that he doesn't "know enough about politics to really form a true opinion, so I really focus on racing."

As for the continued use of the phrase, he told the Times, "If they're going to use my name, I'd like for it to be productive." And in Newsweek, he proposed a new slogan: "Let's Go, America!"   

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