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Country Star Luke Bryan Defends Bringing DeSantis On Stage During Concert After Backlash

The 'American Idol' judge admitted the Florida Governor is a 'very polarizing figure', but he ultimately wanted to help Hurricane Ian victims.

Luke Bryan; screenshot of Luke Bryan concert with Ron DeSantis on stage
Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images; @bonnieupright/Twitter

Country music star and American Idol judge Luke Bryan is in hot water with many fans after bringing anti-LGBTQ+, anti-immigrant, anti-reproductive freedom Florida Governor Ron DeSantis onstage during a recent concert performance in Jacksonville.

DeSantis is one of the most controversial Republicans in the country after leading several legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, a stunt in which he tricked Venezuelan asylum seekers in Florida into taxpayer-funded flights to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts with promises of housing and employment, and having several mostly Black voters arrested for false election fraud charges.

But Bryan is defending his appearance with DeSantis, clarifying that it was for the purposes of raising money and awareness for relief from Hurricane Ian, which ravaged the state of Florida last month.

Viral videos of the moment Bryan welcomed DeSantis, who is currently running for reelection, onto the stage show the crowd at his concert cheering for the Governor as he tossed baseball caps that appeared to bear his campaign logo.

Backlash ensued almost immediately given DeSantis' belligerently bigoted form of conservatism and his presumed 2024 presidential ambitions.

But Bryan took to Twitter to push back on the criticisms, attempting to shift focus to Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

In his post, Bryan wrote:

“I understand Governor DeSantis is a very polarizing figure. But I grew up in a country where if a governor [asks] you if they can come and raise awareness to help victims of a natural disaster you help.”
“I’ve generally stayed out of politics throughout my career."
"I knew people would chatter about this but for me the more important piece was If I am going to come back there a few weeks after a large portion of people have been affected by a natural disaster in a state where people have been good to me this felt right."

Bryan, who grew up in Georgia, closed his post with references to the University of Georgia and University of Florida college football rivalry and a number fans could text to donate to Hurricane Ian relief.

But many found Bryan's explanation unconvincing and criticized him for his seeming support of the extremist governor, especially given DeSantis' use of the appearance as an opportunity to stump for his reelection campaign.

The text number Bryan included in his post leads fans to donate to the Florida Disaster Fund, a private fund administered by DeSantis and his administration, which has led some, including a former Bush Administration official, to question its legitimacy.