Tomi Lahren was widely criticized after she made a joke at the expense of Brittney Griner, saying the WNBA star "won’t have to endure our National Anthem for 9 whole years" after a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in prison on charges she smuggled drugs into the country.
Griner, a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), was detained by Russian customs after cartridges containing hashish oil were found in her luggage.
American officials have expressed concern that Russia may be using her as leverage in response to the Western sanctions imposed against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. News outlets recently reported the American government offered to swap Griner and United States Marine Paul Whelan for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker.
Lahren sarcastically referred to Griner's prison sentence as "a win for her."
Lahren, who has repeatedly denounced athletes like Colin Kaepernick who've refused to stand for the national anthem ahead of games to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States, specifically attacked Griner for previously stating that she would not be on the court while the national anthem is played during game openers.
Lahren might have thought her joke was funny—but no one else was laughing.
Social media users criticized her and came to Griner's defense.
Earlier this week, former Republican President Donald Trump was criticized for siding with Russia over Griner's arrest, saying Griner—who has been held in Russian detention since February—is “a potentially spoiled person” who went to Russia “loaded up with drugs."
Trump's supporters have repeatedly asserted Griner would have been home by now if Trump were still in office given his often deferential relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian government has claimed that customs officers found “vapes” containing hashish oil in Griner’s luggage at a Moscow airport. Many in the United STates have called on the Biden administration to do whatever it can to get Griner home.