In the above screenshot (captioned “Hello, 911? I’d like to report a double homicide”), the tweet in question is on the left. It featured two purported tweets, transcribed below:
@RayCiccarelli: I’d like to announce I’m retiring from NASCAR after this season. I cannot drive a car for a league that won’t allow my special flag.
@NASCAR: We actually had to Google who you were. I’m sure your dozens of fans are real sad about your crusade to defend participation trophies.
A date on the purported tweet from Ciccarelli was dated June 11 2020. One day prior, @NASCAR legitimately tweeted a statement about the Confederate flag and NASCAR events:
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 10, 2020
Labeled “NASCAR Statement,” it read:
The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that creates it is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.
If you visit Twitter.com/RayCiccarelli, an error page appears: “This account doesn’t exist.” Social media discourse included speculation NASCAR’s “burn” was so intense that Ciccarelli deleted his account, but we found no evidence it existed or was referenced before June 11 2020 (except possibly in error.)
It also appeared only one screenshot of the extremely popular purported Twitter exchange between NASCAR and Ciccarelli existed — and it was covered with a watermark for “thesportsmemery.” On that podcast’s Facebook page, the original was shared early on June 11 2020 — one of many jokes about the NASCAR/Ciccarelli controversy:
In that setting, NASCAR’s purported reply to Ray Ciccarelli was an obvious joke. It didn’t take long for the image to be stripped of its satirical context and to spread across social media as authentic. However, @NASCAR did not tweet the commentary seen in the meme.