Driver Noah Gragson was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR this weekend for liking a meme that ridiculed George Floyd’s death.
According to TMZ, Gragson reportedly liked a meme that depicted Floyd’s face superimposed on the body of Sebastian the Crab, from Disney’s live-action 2023 reboot of The Little Mermaid.
The text on the image parodied the lyrics of the film’s hit song “Under The Sea,” but read “Under Da Knee, Under Da Knee,” in reference to how Floyd was killed by former Minnesota Police officer Derek Chauvin.
On Saturday, Gragson’s stock car team, Legacy Motor Club, announced that he would not be representing them at the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, or anytime in the future.
This is the meme Noah Gragson liked that resulted in him getting suspended from NASCAR.
Do you think NASCAR overreacted? pic.twitter.com/7AHcf8qrTC
— The Gay Republican (@GayRepublicSwag) August 6, 2023
“We have made the decision to suspend Noah Gragson effective immediately regarding his actions that do not represent the values of our team,” the statement read.
“Josh Berry will drive the No. 42 entry for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan.”
NASCAR tweeted that the organization “fully supports” the club’s choice to remove the 2022 Xfinity Series Most Popular Driver from behind the wheel of their Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
NASCAR fully supports Legacy Motor Club’s decision to suspend Noah Gragson. Following his actions on social media, NASCAR has determined that Gragson has violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book and has placed him under indefinite suspension.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 5, 2023
“Following his actions on social media, NASCAR has determined that Gragson has violated the Member Conduct section of the 2023 NASCAR Rule Book and has placed him under indefinite suspension.”
The 25-year-old driver publicly apologized the same day that news of his suspension from the Jimmie Johnson owned team came down.
“I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media,” he tweeted on Saturday morning. “I understand the severity of this situation.”
I am disappointed in myself for my lack of attention and actions on social media.
I understand the severity of this situation.
I love and appreciate everyone.
I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are. I messed up plain and simple. https://t.co/PCX6iMJxRF
— Noah Gragson (@NoahGragson) August 5, 2023
“I love and appreciate everyone,” he added. “I try to treat everyone equally no matter who they are. I messed up plain and simple.”
Gragson received plenty of backlash from his fans, but mostly for attempting to atone for his Instagram actions.
“Never apologize for liking a meme and never give in to the woke mob,” the Hodgetwins replied.
“You liked a meme bro… More disappointed in the apology,” another fan said.
“Stop apologizing for having an opinion,” someone added. “Be a man.”
“Make sure you fall in line and conform like a good little NASCAR driver,” one person wrote.
The internet was even more incensed with NASCAR’s reaction to Gragson’s social media behavior.
“Ridiculous suspension,” one fan wrote. “I can think of a few other reasons for suspending Gragson, but doing so because he clicked “like” on an “insensitive” meme online is absurd.”
“It has nothing to do with Nascar, and everyone is allowed an opinion AND a private life, regardless of their employer,” the continued. “Another nail in Nascar’s coffin. Won’t be watching.”
The Hodgetwins concurred. “Suspending people for liking memes? NASCAR is officially WOKE,” the posted.
“NASCAR is officially dead give them the Bud Lite treatment,” one of their followers added.
If you were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform, we will fund your legal bill.
Please let us know.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2023
The same day, Twitter owner Elon Musk announced that the company would help out people who get in trouble at work for their online activities.
“If you were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform, we will fund your legal bill,” he tweeted. “No limit. Please let us know.”
“Did Elon just create a new Noah Gragson policy?” replied a NASCAR fan. “We’re living in wild times.”
In a follow-up post, Musk promised to leverage his deep pockets to make those employers regret their actions.
“And we won’t just sue, it will be extremely loud and we will go after the boards of directors of the companies too,” he added.
2022 Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs wondered if the support extended to politicians.
“How about if your election was stolen?” she replied to Musk. “Asking for a few friends in Arizona.”