On October 2, 2021 NASCAR driver Brandon Brown was elated. He had just finished first in the Xfinity race at the Talledega Superspeedway and he was overjoyed. It was, he announced, “a dream come true.” It was a thrill for NBC’s NASCAR-beat reporter Kellie Stavast, who snagged the post-race interview with the delirious Brown. She was so carried away, indeed, that she apparently confused the crowd’s enthusiastic chants of “F-ck Joe Biden” for an encouraging “Let’s Go Brandon.”
For viewers, however, it was perfect clear what the crowd was saying. It was so loud and clear, indeed, that it appeared to many that Stavast was trying to replace the offensive comment with something more innocuous and complimentary to her interviewee: “As you can hear, they’re chanting “Let’s Go Brandon!”
A meme was born, and a massive viral event was soon underway. In the next day and the weeks to come, sporting events across the United States resounded with the “Let’s Go Brandon!” chant, a verbal euphemism for an obscene epithet directed against the current resident of the White House.
The fact that the LGB chant was not itself obscene allowed the phrase to infiltrate the mainstream media uncensored, after which it became a news story in its own right. Biden’s critics were delighted to share the in-joke and media personalities were at first befuddled by the Brandon reference.
It didn’t take long for the phrase to become a rally cry for frustrated Republicans and other Biden critics.
WOW – Here’s Donald Trump enjoying a “Let’s Go Brandon” chant at the World Series last night pic.twitter.com/gcDnXPI1PH— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 31, 2021
Brandon, Florida is an actual town located near Tampa. On November 18, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis chose the location for a conference as a transparent trope to troll Biden. In videos from the conference, many attendees in the crowd are heard chanting “Let’s go, Brandon.”
The Michigan Conservative Coalition named a fall festival after the phrase. A Republican member of Congress wore a face mask on the House floor with the slogan on it. A GOP house candidate in Florida spelled it out in his Christmas light display.
Perhaps the crowning moment occurred during a Christmas eve Santa-tracker call-in event to the White House, when a caller, Jared Schmeck, just before hanging up, wished Joe and Jill Biden a “Merry Christmas and ‘Let’s Go, Brandon!’”
“Yes, Let’s Go, Brandon! I agree!” America’s hapless leader cheerfully affirmed, as his wife visibly winced, rolled her eyes and smiled nervously.
Schmeck was lambasted by the mainstream media, which called his prank “rude” “disgusting”, “disrespectful” and “inappropriate.” For Schmeck it was all in good fun, and a humorous way to dissent from the Biden Administration’s policies: “It was merely just a jest and my God-given right to express my frustration in a joking manner.” Biden supporters were not amused, trying to dox the prankster and get him fired from his job.
But even “Brandon” supporters felt compelled to take a ride on the meme, replacing “Let’s Go” with “Thank You” to praise Biden.
“#ThankYouBrandon for the new all-time Dow record and 80% Americans vaccinated!” one troll wrote in a tweet.
#ThankYouBrandon for the new all-time Dow record and 80% Americans vaccinated!— J.C. Young (@WriterJCYoung) November 3, 2021
“What’s not to love? Jobs booming, Covid numbers going down, competency, no lies! Seriously…#ThankYouBrandon,” another tweeted.
“Lol we always ruin their moronic and childish slogans. #ThankYouBrandon” one claimed.
Lol we always ruin their moronic and childish slogans. #ThankYouBrandon— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 5, 2021
But their adoption of the Brandon meme showed that the battle was long lost.
Things did not fare so well for the original Brandon. Racer Brown lost support from some of his erstwhile fans and sponsors. He secured a sponsorship from a new meme cryptocurrency, the LGBcoin, only to have NASCAR disallow the sponsor from decorating his car. However, he subsequently secured what was described as an eight-figure deal from the crypto company and the coin initially soared to a market value of $570 millions. However, by early February the currency’s price had rapidly crashed, in what The Daily Beast described as a “dumpster fire”, leaving most investors, and Brown, holding the bag. The coin’s founders are scrambling to regroup and relaunch.
Still, the LGB rallying cry continues to make the rounds, especially at sporting events in Red States and even blue California. Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick even paid the big bucks for a Super Bowl spot with an LGB theme. How long the meme continues to make itself heard remains unclear, but it has already earned its place in the annals of Americana and in the popular response to the Biden Administration.