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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

‘Bring Ya Ass’ to Minnesota: Star’s Quip Sparks Viral Tourism Campaign

  • Explore Minnesota moves quickly to ‘capitalize’ on a postgame comment from the Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards.
  • Website traffic to the state tourism department has more than doubled and a T-shirt is in development.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

A heat-of-the-moment retort to TNT Sports broadcaster Charles Barkley has quickly gone viral and is becoming one of the most powerful tourism campaigns ever for the state of Minnesota.

Immediately after the Timberwolves clinched a spot Sunday in the NBA’s Western Conference finals—the team’s first such berth since 2004—Minnesota star guard Anthony Edwards (above) told Barkley to “bring ya ass” to the North Star state.

The comment, however, did not stay in sports, and has become a major rallying cry. Explore Minnesota, the state’s department of tourism, quickly seized upon the remark and turned it into its own tweet that has generated more than 310,000 views as of Tuesday afternoon, with companion posts on Instagram and Facebook. The bringyaass.com website address, which was quickly acquired by comedian Jon Savitt, also now redirects to Explore Minnesota’s page. The department is now in discussions to purchase the website registration permanently from Savitt, who doesn’t have a prior relationship with Explore Minnesota.

Even state Gov. Tim Walz has given significant visibility to the issue, retweeting a call to turn “bring ya ass” into a state tourism slogan that has brought in more than 900,000 more views. 

In keeping with the state’s “Minnesota Nice” image, though, the tourism department lightly sanitized the original remark from Edwards to have North Star–shaped asterisks for the “s” letters. 

“We’re trying to capitalize on this as much as we can,” Chris Morgan, Explore Minnesota spokesman, tells Front Office Sports. “We have a group chat among the staff, and immediately after the game and well into the late hours of Sunday night, we were all saying, ‘We have to do something with this.’ We already have a Star of the North campaign where visitors’ own experiences in Minnesota are central in that, and Ant’s comment was just such a genuine exchange that really fit into the broader narrative.”

Capturing the Moment

A sizable part of the energy from the “bring ya ass” movement comes from the Timberwolves themselves as the team enjoys a historic level of success and will now face the Mavericks for a bid to the NBA Finals, despite an ownership feud still ongoing. To that end, Morgan said Explore Minnesota is discussing further collaborations with the team as the playoff run continues. 

In the meantime, the department’s web traffic has more than doubled in the immediate period following Edwards’s comment, and Morgan said a “bring ya ass” T-shirt is now in development. Even before that release, unofficial products with the remark are already available from numerous providers. 

The Twin Cities community, meanwhile, is also leaning in to a broader sports rivalry with Dallas as MLB’s Rangers will play a road series against the Twins from Friday to Sunday at Target Field, a period of time coinciding with Game 2 of the Western Conference final on Friday at the neighboring Target Center.

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