Who wouldn’t want Earnhardt’s signature on a picture, phone case, or their hand? Earnhardt is considered racing royalty and was among the sport’s most popular drivers throughout his career.
The good news for racing fans is that Earnhardt was always eager to please his fans — so long as they followed one rule, of course.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted nothing to do with crying fans
When you’ve signed as many autographs as Dale Earnhardt Jr. has, you’re bound to have some strange moments here and there.
During a 2012 interview with SB Nation, Earnhardt reminisced on awkward encounters with NASCAR fans wanting his autograph. Earnhardt said he drew the line at fans, especially men, who became emotional upon asking for his signature.
Earnhardt specifically mentioned a man who “got upset” at that year’s NASCAR Preview Fan Fest. Jeff Gluck, the interviewer, asked Earnhardt if was a “manly man.”
“It looked like this was a guy who could hold his s— together!” Earnhardt replied. “But he just fell out. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I couldn’t believe that.”
Earnhardt also had unique ways to remember fans
Whether they’re athletes or actors, celebrities meet so many different people at autograph lines and conventions that it becomes easy for them to blur together.
In a 2013 interview with USA Today, Earnhardt said he remembers fans who bring unique trinkets for him to sign. Earnhardt specifically used a diecast model car as an example.
“It’s something unique to them where I go, ‘Oh yeah! The guy with the thing!’ You know? Typically, it might be a story they tell me or something when I see them a year or two later, they say, ‘Hey, I’m the guy who had this happen.’ That’s the easiest way for me to remember.”
For anyone wanting to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. and have him sign something, now you know his rules: Don’t cry — especially if you’re a man — and have him place his signature on an item that isn’t just a stock photo.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a saint compared to other athletes
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s rule about not wanting to sign autographs for crying or overly-emotional men might bother some NASCAR fans.
If you think that’s bad, let’s compare that to some other athletes. While with the Carolina Panthers, star quarterback Cam Newton went viral in 2012 for charging fans at least $125 per autograph.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer recently criticized fans for approaching him with autograph requests at a hotel. Critics have also alleged Bauer of toxic behavior toward fans on social media.
Yes, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s rule is cruel, but at least it isn’t price gouging or deception. And in the end, isn’t that what matters?