The CEO of the company sponsoring Sunday’s Sprint Cup race raised more questions about NASCAR Chairman Brian France endorsing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, stating France “created … this spectacle.’’
Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam, made the comments Friday on ESPN Radio’s Capital Games show.
Lemonis’ comments came two days after France told The Associated Press he was surprised at the reaction to his endorsement of Trump, admitted he had called some sponsors after appearing at Trump’s Georgia rally and confided he didn’t know all of Trump’s policies.
“It’s typical Brian in my opinion,’’ Lemonis told ESPN Radio. “I’ve seen this happen before. He doesn’t necessarily have all the facts and he picks up a vision and he does it with enthusiasm and exuberance.
“When he says he doesn’t understand the policies, that to me, in itself, is a bit of a problem that he doesn’t understand what people stand for, and he takes time out of his schedule on a brand that I spend millions of dollars to support.’’
Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway is sponsored by Good Sam, a sister company to Camping World, which also sponsors NASCAR’s Truck Series.
Lemonis told Sports Business Daily on March 1 that he disagreed with France’s endorsement of Trump because it’s not good business to potentially alienate customers and employees.
Lemonis, who stars in “The Profit” on CNBC, reiterated those comments in Friday’s interview with ESPN Radio.
He noted that when a CEO endorses a candidate, it “infers that it’s validating what everybody in that organization thinks from the people who enjoy the company’s product, or the people that enjoy their sport in the case of Brian France, or asks them to pick a side and it’s just not the right forum.’’
Lemonis questioned the need for such endorsements at all.
“I think that there’s a certain amount of ego that goes into wanting to think that your endorsement is going to add so much credibility to an intelligent voter,’’ Lemonis said when asked by ESPN Radio about Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer endorsing Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president on Thursday.
“I think it’s insulting to think that regular citizens like ourselves do not have the education to think with our minds,’’ Lemonis said.
Since the Georgia rally, Trump has repeatedly said he’s been endorsed by NASCAR, raising another issue for Lemonis.
“When you use a sport like NASCAR, you use a sport like the NFL or the NBA or anything like that where the fans are wildly loyal, and now you’ve essentially given the endorsement of a population that is made up of supporters of lots of different people, that’s a problem.
“Does it surprise me that Donald Trump would say (NASCAR has endorsed him)? I’m not sure that he’s different than any other candidate that would just grab on to something and just make it fact. It’s definitely a problem for me that Brian created this spectacle and had drivers there … and made it seem like NASCAR was out there.’’