Luke Bryan is responding to the backlash he’s receiving on social media after bringing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on stage during his Jacksonville on Friday evening (Oct. 28).
DeSantis, who is currently up for re-election in the Sunshine State, joined Bryan on stage as the singer revealed plans to donate proceeds from his upcoming Estero, Florida concert to the Florida Disaster Fund in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
The “Country On” singer took to social media on Sunday (Oct. 30) to issue a statement after upset Twitter users expressed anger over the fact that Bryan associated himself with the political figure as he has been outspoken about anti-LGBTQ+ policies anti-abortion, and more.
Some Twitter users even went as far as promising to boycott the upcoming 56th Annual CMA Awards, which Bryan is set to co-host, while others called for his cancellation. Some even vowed not to watch American Idol, where Bryan serves as a judge.
While many were upset to see Governor DeSantis join Bryan on stage, others shared their support on social media.
After his name began to trend on Twitter, Bryan admitted he doesn’t “typically respond to stuff when I’m getting run down on a social platform” but continued to issue a response.
“Here’s the deal,” Bryan wrote. “I understand Governor Desantis is a very polarizing figure. 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.”
He went on to explain that it was important for him to be able to donate to Florida residents impacted by the recent hurricane as they’ve been good to him throughout his 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. Raise awareness, have a little fun between the GA and FL college fans before the game and do what I love on stage.”
He concluded his statement by saying, “this is all I am saying about this. I’ll be outdoors with my boys. Enjoy your Sunday. Love y’all #GoDawgs.”
Bryan’s post also included information on how to donate to the fun via text message (text disaster to 20222).
Fans attending Bryan’s Jacksonville concert on Friday evening were surprised when Bryan simply walked onto the stage rather than make a grand entrance.
Bryan then proceeded to welcome DeSantis to the stage and revealed that he will donate all proceeds from his upcoming Estero show to the relief fund.
“Because of the hurricane they had to use the venue that I was performing in as a shelter. Well, we’ve been going back and forth, we didn’t know if it was too soon to play or not but the area of Estero said ‘get your ass to Estero.’ So, we’re doing a concert,” Bryan shared from the stage. “So, what we’re going to do is give a large portion of the proceeds in Estero, Florida… to everybody that’s bought tickets, kept the ticket, and spending the money… I’m donating that money to the great state of Florida.”
Because the concert was on the eve of the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry game, Bryan used the opportunity to support the Georgia Bulldogs by gifting Governor DeSantis with a Brock Bowers jersey.
DeSantis then addressed the crowd: “The state of Florida had to deal with the major hurricane last month and it’s not easy to deal with, it’s hurt a lot of people. Though I can tell you this, show me any other state that can rebuild bridges in three days. I don’t think you can find that.”
Following the show, DeSantis took to social media to thank Bryan for allowing him to share his stage.
“Thanks for letting me crash the party last night, @lukebryan!” DeSantis wrote on Twitter.
The news comes after Hurricane Ian postponed three of Luke Bryan’s Raised Up Right Tour dates. The country superstar’s rescheduled shows will now take place later this week: Nov. 2 in Estero, Nov. 4 in West Palm Beach, and Nov. 5 in Tampa.
Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28 in Southwestern Florida as a high-end category 4 storm. The hurricane left many homes and businesses destroyed and also took the lives of at least 89 people, according to The Washington Post. It will likely take years to rebuild.
To date, the Florida Disaster Fund has raised more than $50 million from corporate partners like Walmart, Publix, Home Depot, Amazon and more.
The fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to provide financial assistance to communities as they respond to and recover from times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with public, private, and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities. Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and are tax-deductible.