SIOUX FALLS—“Let’s Go Brandon,” the anti-Joe Biden catchphrase that has made waves this holiday season—as highlighted by an ex-cop uttering it directly to the president—is now officially in roadside prank territory.
An electronic road sign in Dell Rapids, South Dakota, a town of 3,600 people about 20 miles north of Sioux Falls, has been displaying the message in recent days.
“Let’s Go Brandon FJB,” it stated, the last three letters abandoning any pretense that the phrase means something other than “Fuck Joe Biden!”
As for who put the words on the sign, well, it’s something of a mystery.
The sign, which was on Garfield Avenue, belongs to Construction Signing Corporation of Sioux Falls. It was being used to flash a warning message to drivers in Dell Rapids as they approached a construction project near a railroad crossing, according to Travis Dressen, an area engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
The DOT wasn’t involved with the project, Dressen pointed out. But after social-media posts in recent days displayed the sign with the message, the DOT had a staffer drive to Dell Rapids and turn it off on Tuesday, Dressen said.
“It’s unclear who programmed it,” Dressen said, noting the sign was not protected by a padlock. “But DOT was being blamed for it, so we shut it off.”
Kyle Schievelbein, whose company owns the sign, said none of his employees programmed the abusive message, and he’s not sure who did.
“I have no idea,” Schievelbein told The Daily Beast.
It generated plenty of local attention in just a couple of days, with one local posting a photo on Facebook and opining, “Coming into town from the south on the white bridge… LMAO I love this town.”
State Rep. Tom Pischke of Dell Rapids, a Republican who represents District 25, posted a laughing emoji in response to the post. Rep. Pischke did not return phone calls or respond to an email seeking comment.
Dell Rapids Mayor Tom Earley told The Daily Beast he had no idea why the sign was still on city property after the project was completed, nor why the message was shown.
“I don’t know. I didn’t even know the sign was out there,” Earley said.
Public Works Director Clarence Fjellanger said it was a private sign and the city was not involved in the message. He declined other comments, hanging up three times when a reporter tried to learn more.
Let’s Go Brandon has become a treasured bit of conservative code in recent months. It started at a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Oct. 2. As a reporter tried to interview the winning driver, Brandon Brown, some attendees started to cheer “Fuck Joe Biden” on live TV. The reporter suggested they were saying, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
Soon, Republicans in and out of public life embraced and repeated it. An Oregon man and ex-police officer even used the phrase during a phone call with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Christmas Eve.
“Merry Christmas, and let’s go, Brandon!”Jared Schmeck said during the call, one of many the Bidens did. Jill Biden seemed to wince, but the president moved on, asking him if he was from Oregon.
Schmeck initially said he was not a Trump supporter and was merely joking, but on Monday, he wore a red MAGA hat during an appearance on a podcast with Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser under scrutiny over the Jan. 6 riot.
“Donald Trump is my president, and he should still be president right now,” Schmeck said.
This electronic insult in South Dakota came on the heels of another appearance in the state, where The Winner Advocate, a weekly newspaper, published a questionable ad in its Dec. 22 edition.
In a group ad, under the heading “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” a photo from Winner Welding & Machine showed three men standing under a Merry Christmas banner, with owner Brad Assman, pronounced “Aus-man,” holding a sign reading “Let’s Go Brandon.”
In October, Gov. Kristi Noem, a first-term Republican and former four-term congresswoman, posed with a T-shirt with the message during her annual pheasant hunt. At least one metal road sign outside of Brandon, a Sioux Falls suburb with a population of 10,200, was reportedly tagged with the words “LETS GO” last fall.
South Dakota is a bright red state politically, supporting Donald Trump overwhelmingly in both 2016 and 2020. The last Democrat to carry the state was President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Republicans hold all statewide offices and have supermajorities in both legislative chambers.