NASCAR Rejects "Let's Go Brandon" Crypto Sponsorship, Team Pledges To Fight Back

Brandonbilt Motorsports says it got approval in writing; NASCAR says the sponsor's nature wasn't properly conveyed and the application wasn't officially filed.

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Last week, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown decided to get behind the slogan that supposedly damaged his racing career by choosing to put it on his car. His team, Brandonbilt Motorsports, announced a partnership with a cryptocurrency called LGBcoin on December 30, though NASCAR later stated it never approved the sponsor. The racing series officially rejected the team’s submission on Wednesday.

NASCAR is permitted to bar entrants from racing if “it determines that any advertising, sponsorship, or similar agreement to which the Competitor is or will be a party is detrimental to the sport, to NASCAR, Series Sponsor or to the Promoter for any reason,” per a slice of the rule book shared on Twitter by journalist Bob Pockrass. Racer reports that the team’s application wasn’t “done through the appropriate portal” and was greenlit in writing without NASCAR understanding the full nature of the context around LGBcoin:

The decision comes as officials returned from the holiday break to go through the official approval process, which the team claimed was already done. However, a NASCAR spokesperson told RACER the submission from the team, which was sent on Christmas Day, was not done through the appropriate portal and was incorrectly approved without proper understanding of the LGBcoin. Additionally, the sponsor’s submission was also not clearly defined.

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This portal was reportedly not live at the time Brandonbilt Motorsports submitted the LGBcoin sponsorship for approval; rather, the team tried to get it cleared via email. James Koutoulas, a hedge fund manager and “LGBcoin HODLer” (which I guess passes for an official title; he speaks on behalf of LGBcoin to the media for what it’s worth) went off on Twitter, sharing screenshots of emails between the team’s PR personnel and NASCAR Racing Operations and pledging to file a lawsuit against NASCAR:

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He’s also spent the last 14 hours or so threatening to sue a variety of media organizations that covered this saga in ways he didn’t like:

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I assume we’re next on the list, so look forward to that one. Anyway, an email from Mac MacLeod, who runs the PR company Fast Lane Media, to NASCAR can be seen in Koutoulas’ tweet. The sponsor’s purpose is stated simply as “they are a cryptocurrency.” MacLeod’s email also mentions that the paint scheme portal didn’t work and no races for 2022 were listed — because, as we now understand, the portal for next season wasn’t live on Christmas Day. A response from Dale Howell of NASCAR Racing Operations begins by saying “the sponsors are approved.”

According to Koutloulas, NASCAR asked that Brandonbilt Motorsports leave “Let’s Go Brandon,” spelled out in entirety, off the car. He told USA Today that approval was contingent on use of the acronym, rather than the full phrase, and the team supposedly complied.

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Back in November, Brandonbilt Motorsports reportedly met with NASCAR, per Racer, and was told the sponsorship wouldn’t be approved. The timeline of these events is unclear, so we’ve reached out to both NASCAR and Brandonbilt Motorsports for clarification.

One of the key issues here is whether approval in writing in an email counts in the way it would’ve had it gone through official channels. But even then I’m not sure if that would matter, unless there’s something in NASCAR’s rules that prevents the series from pulling approval after it’s been granted. There’s some precedent for NASCAR allowing cars to show up to the circuit, then forcing them to cover offending sponsors. We’ve asked NASCAR for insight on this too, and will update this story with whatever we learn.

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Update Jan. 5, 2022 at 3:58 p.m. ET: A NASCAR representative responded to our inquiry about the in-person meeting on Nov. 5. NASCAR told team owner and driver Jerry and Brandon Brown at that time — the weekend of the Series Championship Race at Phoenix that “no form” of the “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase would be allowed to run:

We can confirm that the team owner and driver were told on Nov 5 in an in-person meeting that no form of this derogatory and vulgar euphemism would be allowed on any paint scheme or sponsorship.

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The representative reiterated to Jalopnik that “this sponsor and paint scheme has not been approved and the team – Brandonbilt Motorsports – was informed of this final decision on Tuesday afternoon.”