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Denny Hamlin Reveals How 'Fake News' Joke Led To His NASCAR Partnership With Michael Jordan
Denny Hamlin explained how his partnership with Michael Jordan to found the NASCAR team 23XI started with a simple false rumor.
The NASCAR driver appears in Netflix’s documentary about the life and career of Bubba Wallace titled “Race: Bubba Wallace.” At one point, he discusses the origin of their team and how the former basketball legend got involved at all. It turns out a rumor about Jordan buying a stake in an existing NASCAR team with longtime friend, Hamlin, got the ball rolling on turning it into a reality.
Hamlin previously shared a clip from the documentary series in which he explained he was golfing years ago when he noticed a news article discussing a potential partnership between him and Jordan to purchase a stake in an existing NASCAR team. At the time, there was nothing to the rumor, but it did get the duo thinking "what if?"
“I’ll never forget, I was on the ninth hole at my home golf course, and I’m like, ‘Should I send Michael this article? Let me get his temperature here.’ And I sent it to him,” he says in the clip. “And he responded immediately. He says, ‘Haha’, you know, ‘Obviously, fake news. Not real. But if you want to make it real news, let me know.’”
With that Hamlin jumped on a plane and pitched the idea to the “Space Jam” actor in person. Jordan agreed to the proposition (after properly having his business partners look into the idea). However, instead of buying a stake in an existing team, the duo decided to start their own project within NASCAR, an endeavor that Hamlin noted is not done too much these days.
“I never thought we would start a team from scratch, and that’s essentially what we did, which really hasn’t been done in a really long time,” he told Beyond The Flag. “We have nobody, where do we start? We don’t have a building, where do we start? It’s very, very difficult to come to this sport and be competitive anyway.”
Two years later and 23XI Racing is still going strong. In addition to Hamlin and Wallace, the team brought on Kurt Busch and acquired the now-defunct StarCom Racing. In 2024, the team can look forward to having Tyler Reddick join them in the Cup Series once he departs officially from Richard Childress Racing.