In June 2023, a rumor was shared on blogs and social media that claimed Talladega Superspeedway, a car-racing track located in Alabama that famously hosts annual NASCAR events, had hosted a "Pride Day." According to the story, this decision by the track's owners led to the lowest fan attendance in its history.
Social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Truth Social, as well as message board threads and a since-deleted blog post from westernstandard.news, all led to an article from June 5 on sportalix.com. The headline of the story read, "Talladega 'Pride Day' Achieves Lowest Attendance in Track History, Setting a Record."
This tweet was viewed nearly 1 million times in just one day.
This tweet reached more than 1.6 million users, also in just 24 hours.
Commenters under this post appeared to believe this was a real news story.
Despite all of this, we found no record of the Talladega track ever having held a "Pride Day" or any similar event at night.
The truth was that this rumor had originally been published on two websites that described their content as satire, as noted in tweets by BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh and Lead Stories cofounder and fact-checker Maarten Schenk.
Before the rumor was published on sportalix.com, the story first appeared on June 2 on dunning-kruger-times.com. The website is part of the America's Last Line of Defense network of satirical content. Its "About Us" page featured a disclaimer about satire and parody.
Similarly, the "About" page on sportalix.com read, "We understand that some readers may be unfamiliar with satire and may not understand that these articles are not meant to be taken at face value. It is the responsibility of the reader to discern the intent of these articles and to understand that they are not presented as factual news."
As for the photograph in the articles that showed very few fans seated in the stands, the picture was not captured at the Talladega track. A reverse image search found that it was taken in July 2017 during the NASCAR Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The "Celebrate!" sign with rainbow colors was added by one or more people associated with the satirical websites.
The satirical claim about the Talladega track and "Pride Day" played on a theme that had been going around in the news cycle in the weeks previous to the publishing of the satirical stories, in particular about the controversy and backlash associated with Bud Light having partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.