June 25th, 2012
11:31 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – You know a quote has entered the national lexicon when a major sports merchandise company plans to plaster it on T-shirts, it inspires a brand new beer and the Senate majority leader invokes it to respond to a reporter.
“That’s a clown question, bro,” Washington Nationals baseball phenom Bryce Harper told a Canadian reporter who earlier this month asked the 19-year-old about his favorite beer. Though the drinking age in Ontario is 19, Harper is a Mormon. His religion prohibits alcohol consumption.
Harper’s quip lit up the internet, becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Four other ways Harper’s one-liner has reached meme status:
1.) A brew in homage
When a friend sent Charlie Berger, brewer and co-founder of the Denver Beer Co., video of Harper’s Toronto remark, Berger knew right away that he wanted to turn Harper’s phrase into a beer.
“The very first thing I heard him say is ‘clown question, bro,’” Berger told CNN. And from that, the name of a new Canadian lager (inspired by the Toronto dateline of Harper’s quip) was born: “Clown Question, Bro.”
Denver Beer Co. started making the Canadian lager, which generally takes 28 days to brew, the day after the quip and plans to unveil it when Harper’s Washington Nationals face off against the Colorado Rockies on Monday.
“We are going to have all the bartenders wear clown noses when we tap this beer,” Berger said. “Normally we are not open on Mondays, but we decided we are going to have a Bryce Harper party at Denver Beer Co. We are encouraging everyone to wear clown costumes.”
Even though they will be drinking in Harper’s honor, Berger says he will be pulling for his Rockies.
2.) Clown questions at the highest level of the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid showed some pop culture prowess when he dropped the “clown question, bro” phrase last week.
When a reporter asked Reid on Wednesday about Republicans waiting for Mitt Romney to take a position on the DREAM Act – which would provide a permanent legal pathway for some children of illegal immigrants - before they commented on it, Reid dodged the question by appropriating Harper.
On top of the similarities between the two – both are Mormon and both are from southern Nevada – Reid called Harper “a good role model” in a Senate floor speech and even compared him to baseball great and Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.
Reid, who has season tickets to the Nationals, met Harper at a game last month.
3.) A phrase that pays
Just one day after Harper’s retort, on June 13, Harper trademarked “That’s a clown question, bro” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark database.
The trademark was filed under the “Goods & Services” field and, according to the database, applied to “wearing apparel, namely, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, pants, shorts, hats, visors, gloves, shoes.”
Once the trademark is exercised, Harper would presumably start cashing in on the phrase. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment, stating that the information was privileged. Which brings us to our next piece of meme evidence…
4.) Under Armour to print phrase on shirts
After Thursday’s Nationals game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Comcast SportsNet’s Kelli Johnson reported that Harper told her that Under Armour, a company that Harper has an endorsement deal with, plans to sell an official shirt with the “That’s a clown question, bro” phrase.
“Yesterday, Bryce Harper was wearing ‘That’s a clown question, bro’ T-shirt under his warm ups,” Johnson reported on Friday. “He is going to come out with his own line of shirts through Under Armor.”
Shirts with the Harper phrase had been popping up all over the internet.
Under Armour declined to respond to a CNN request for comment.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.