It may be a merry COVID Christmas for hundreds of maskless guests around Nashville who gorged on barbecue and line-danced at a “Boots & BBQ” party held by Christian radio personality and personal-finance guru Dave Ramsey.
Ramsey, who is the foremost proponent of the “snowball method” of debt control, has an audience of more than 17 million loyal radio and podcast listeners who he has preached the COVID conspiracy theory to as a staunch COVID denier, keeping his media empire’s offices open even to employees who had tested positive for the virus. He has referred to lockdown measures as “totalitarian” on his radio program and urged listeners and employees not to be “ruled by fear” and not to fall for what he called the hoax and hype about mask wearing and soaring death rates—despite Tennessee hitting its highest spike in cases in a 24-hour period with 11,352 new infections the day after Ramsey’s party.
The indoor soiree was held Saturday night at Ramsey Solutions company headquarters, according to the Nashville Scene. Igloos and sleigh rides provided the holiday atmosphere outside the venue. The bash was so big that the 1,500 invited guests were given maps that pointed them to the various open bars and the pop-up casino and “silent disco” area, where they line-danced late into the night. A worker at the party said there was a pile of masks at the entrance but they were not required to be worn.
The Scene reported that the shindig was held across multiple floors of the building and one worker said there were at least 1,000 guests inside at one time. “There was absolutely no [social] distancing being practiced,” a worker told the Scene, adding that neither he nor most other workers wore masks at Ramsey’s request in order to avoid “making the guests feel uncomfortable.” Many workers reportedly wore them anyway.
A private security detail ensured that only invited guests got in, as several local media outlets reported being “escorted” away. The Scene reported that many of the caterers felt obligated to serve the party for fear of being blocked from further contracts. Attempts to reach Ramsey Solutions by local media were unanswered, though Megan McConnell, a company spokesperson sent an internal memo to staff warning, “If and when you see controversial or negative things about Dave or RS on social, please do not defend us or engage with it. That just boosts the post’s visibility (and we’re not concerned about those people anyway).”
Tennessee’s state health department does have a mask mandate for public areas, but a spokesperson said that the agency would have “no jurisdiction over such an event” given that it was on private property.