The Margin: Why fans of country music star Garth Brooks thought he was backing Bernie Sanders

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He didn’t mean to cause a big scene.

Country music star Garth Brooks sent social media into a tizzy over the past week for posting a picture of himself wearing a “Sanders 20” jersey on Instagram.

The snap was taken before he took the stage at Ford Field in Detroit last weekend, where he acknowledged that he was paying tribute to retired Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, who wore the No. 20. (He was performing on the Lions’ home turf, after all.)

But many of his followers thought that the “Friends in Low Places” singer was wearing his support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election on his sleeve. Because, Sanders 20.

“Good grief. Can’t you just do what you get paid to do?” fumed one commentator. “Why why why does it have to involve politics,” she continued, adding, “So sad. We don’t pay good money for anything other than to watch you perform.”

“Nothing like supporting a communist to loss [sic] a few fans!” added another.

“If this is for Bernie Sanders, I’m done with you,” another user wrote. “I thought you were a true American that loves Our Country?”

“You just lost thousands of fans in Michigan Just stick to your music,” another fan complained, with the hashtag #trump2020landslide.

And the backlash continued to build up over the week, with “Barry Sanders” trending on Twitter TWTR, -1.39%  on Friday morning — almost a week after he posted the controversial pic to the Facebook-owned FB, -0.65%  Instagram — as those familiar with the football legend began mocking those who had gotten their Sanderses mixed up.

“Facebook forgot who Barry Sanders is and is freaking out at Garth Brooks for wearing a jersey and I’m dying,” @jasoncvincent tweeted.

Garth Brooks did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for comment about the mix-up, but he told his Detroit audience during the show last weekend that, “Can I just tell ya, you guys got the greatest player in NFL history, in my opinion.”

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