A rising Republican politician described by the New York Times as “Donald Trump in lipstick” is picking a fight with the NFL.
Kari Lake, Republican nominee for Arizona Governor, is daring the league to pull Super Bowl LVII from the state over her controversial political positions.
During an interview Sunday, Lake promised to issue a “Declaration of Invasion” on her first day in office to combat the spread of fentanyl and secure the state’s border with Mexico.
The staunch Trump supporter and ally said she’s not concerned over the NFL possibly yanking the Super Bowl from the state the way it did in 1991 when Arizona voters failed to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday.
“I’m not going to be taking marching orders from the NFL. I’m taking marching orders from the people of Arizona, who are tired of their children getting their hands on the most deadly drug this country’s ever seen,” said Lake.
The former TV news anchor doesn’t believe the league would threaten a Super Bowl boycott over her possibly militarizing the state’s 373-mile border with Mexico. “I don’t think the NFL is that stupid. I really don’t.”
But if the NFL’s billionaire owners want to go there, she’s ready to fight. If Lake wins the election against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, she would be sworn in a month before the Big Game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12.
“I don’t answer to the NFL. I answer to the people of Arizona,” Lake tweeted Sunday. “If the NFL wants to play chicken over the 2023 Super Bowl, I can promise you that I win that game.”
This will be the fourth Super Bowl scheduled in Arizona. The last one in 2015 generated $719 million, according to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Lake could be posturing because of the league’s difficulty in moving its biggest event at this late date. But it’s not impossible.
The members of the Arizona Super Bowl LVII Host Committee know other cities/regions want the Big Game — especially Las Vegas. Sin City hosted the 2022 NFL Draft on the famed Las Vegas Strip from April 28-30. The next step is for the Las Vegas Raiders’ domed Allegiant Stadium to host a Super Bowl.
“Las Vegas is a new competitor. So we’ve got Las Vegas, Los Angeles, of course, New Orleans, South Florida,” Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill warned earlier this year. “So we’ve got to continue to invest in the stadium, but also the Valley that makes us a great destination for these mega events.”
Just a few months before Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-Star Game, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred pulled the Mid-Summer Classic from Atlanta over the signing of a bill that critics said disproportionately disenfranchised people of color. The decision cost the city an estimated $50 million in business.
Lake, a self-described “Momma Bear,” has been cited as a possible vice presidential candidate with Trump in the 2024 Presidential Election. Picking a fight with the powerful NFL is right out of Trump’s MAGA playbook.
Back in 2017, the former President called on NFL owners to “fire” players kneeling during the U.S. national anthem. There’s still a percentage of NFL fans who agreed with Trump and have never forgiven, or forgotten, the league’s decision to ultimately support players protesting on-field for racial justice.
Like the combative former president, Lake is “bluntly antagonistic” toward the press, according to The New Yorker.
How long before Lake borrows another page out of Trump’s playbook and bashes Disney’s ESPN for its liberal leanings?
The NFL declined to comment.