‘Goodyear Blimp Over Daytona’

On February 20 2023, an Imgur user shared a purported image of the Goodyear Blimp, flying over the Daytona 500 with a “don’t shoot” message on the side (a reference to a recent controversy over possible “spy balloons“):


Text on the image was similar (but not identical) to text on a February 20 2023 tweet:

Fact Check

Claim: A photograph from February 2023 shows the Goodyear Blimp flying over the Daytona 500 with a “DON’T SHOOT” message on the side.

Description: The claim is about a photograph allegedly taken in February 2023, showcasing the Goodyear Blimp flying over the Daytona 500 with a ‘DON’T SHOOT’ message.

Rating: Not True

Rating Explanation: The review of the claim reveals that the photograph was actually taken in 2020 and the ‘DON’T SHOOT’ message was added in 2023. Therefore, the claim that the full photograph, including the message, is from February 2023 is not true.

Google Trends data for the seven-day period ending February 21 2023 demonstrated “Breakout” levels of search interest related to the image. Popular searches included “Goodyear Daytona 500,” “Goodyear blimp over Daytona,” “Goodyear blimp over Daytona 500,” Good year blimp don’t shoot,” “Good year blimp Daytona 500,” and “Good year don’t shoot.”

On February 19 2023, USAToday.com published a guide to the Daytona 500, a NASCAR event held annually in Daytona Beach, Florida:

The Daytona 500 is the iconic 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series season-opener held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Considered the most prestigious and important race in NASCAR, the Daytona has opened the NASCAR season every February since 1982. It is one of two Cup Series races held yearly at Daytona, with the second – a 400-mile event – as the regular-season finale in 2021 …

Variations of the “don’t shoot” message on the Goodyear Blimp spread across platforms, typically presented as a real image. However, regardless of which platform the rumor appeared on, only one version of the image seemed to exist:

On February 19 2023, the Goodyear Blimp’s Twitter account confirmed its presence in Daytona Beach on February 19 2023:

That account retweeted a fan’s photograph, and no “DON’T SHOOT” message was visible in it:

A reverse image search indicated that the photograph of the blimp was not taken in 2023, nor did the original image contain the “DON’T SHOOT” message on the side of the Goodyear Blimp. The image actually appeared in a September 2020 Complex.com article, “People Thought Goodyear Blimp Flying Over New Jersey Was a UFO”:

The apparent UFO appeared to be hovering over MetLife Stadium [in September 2020], where the New York Giants were hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. While it’s a weird NFL game choice, were these aliens aware that humans aren’t allowed to attend sporting events in person due to COVID-19, and they were just pulling up in their literal skybox seats to shove it in our faces? Upon closer look however, it was clear that the oddly familiar-looking spacecraft actuallt hailed from the not-so-distant planet of Goodyear.

In February 2023 images of the Goodyear Blimp with a “DON’T SHOOT” message circulated, purportedly from the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach. The image itself was taken in 2020, and the “DON’T SHOOT” message was added in February 2023. Images from the Daytona 500 included the Goodyear Blimp, but not with the message seen in many versions of one single image.