‘LET’S GO BRANDON’

Viral chants take social media, sporting events, by storm

President Joe Biden speaks at the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RALEIGH — Chances are, you’ve seen a photo, meme, or video saying “Let’s go Brandon” used as a criticism of President Joe Biden. The phrase is a viral phenomenon that is both a shot at mainstream media and G-rated stand-in for its origin.

In football stadiums, especially those in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), student sections spontaneously began to say “F*** Joe Biden” during their return to stadiums in September. This followed a 2020 season in which teams played in either empty stadiums or at a severely reduced capacity.

Since its inception, the anti-Biden chanting has grown in size.

Videos posted to social media earned millions of hits and conservative personalities such as Donald Trump Jr. boosted the chants, urging supporters to start them nationwide. Radio show host Clay Travis used the chants and full stadiums to proclaim that college football was leading the fight against COVID-19 restrictions.

By October, the chants spread to the biennial Ryder Cup and country music concerts. However, it was a NASCAR Xfinity Series race that would launch the new iteration.

Brandon Brown celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/John Amis)

On Oct. 2, Brandon Brown, the driver of the No. 68 car, would win his first career race at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway in the sport’s second-tier division.

As Brown celebrated, NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast interviewed Brown on the front stretch as audible “F*** Joe Biden” chants came from the grandstands.

Stavast was mid-interview with an ecstatic Brown, and started her sentence saying, “Brandon, as you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go Brandon!’ You told me you were going to hang back and watch and learn. What did you learn that helped you in the closing laps?”

In that instant, the anti-Biden chant was doused with gasoline.

Immediately after, conservatives and fans expressed amusement — and exasperation.

Intentional or not, the misquoting of the chant was just the latest example of a media narrative that conservatives claim goes to great lengths to protect the 46th president and silence opposition. At that point, for some, it didn’t matter if the NBC Sports reporter actually mistook the chants as being in support of Brown.

In the days and weeks since that Saturday evening, “Let’s go Brandon” has appeared on t-shirts, hats and social media profiles, and has become a top applause line at conservative events.

At the just completed N.C. State Fair, the North Carolina Republican Party even sold “Let’s go Brandon” bumper stickers.

A rap song titled “Let’s go Brandon” by an artist named Bryson Gray overtook Adele on the iTunes chart earlier this week. Gray tweeted on Oct. 25 saying, “Our LGB song is still #1 in the US and #1 rap song in AUS and the UK on iTunes. Thank y’all so much. God is GOOD!”