Reality TV star wins bid to fly big US flag in North Carolina, but must pay big fines
By MARK PRICE | The Charlotte Observer | Published: October 8, 2019
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A CNBC reality TV star has won the right to keep flying a giant U.S. flag over his RV dealership in North Carolina, but the victory came at a cost: thousands of dollars of fines, according to the Statesville Record & Landmark and other news outlets.
Statesville officials announced Monday that a deal was reached to change an ordinance so reality show host Marcus Lemonis can keep a 40-by-80-foot U.S. flag over his Grander RV dealership, WBTV reported.
But Lemonis must pay the $14,350 in fines he racked up for refusing to take it down for months, with an additional $2,000 for the city’s legal costs, WBTV said.
Lemonis is an actor and producer who stars in the reality TV show “The Profit.” He made national news this summer for refusing to take down the flag, which he says was raised as a show of patriotism and support for the military.
He appeared to celebrate the win Monday night on social media, saying the compromise was reached with “civility and humanity.”
“Money was never a factor,” Lemonis said in a series of tweets. “Thank you to all that felt the need to support. (Statesville) has great people and I will continue to support. Would love to donate the same size flag to downtown Statesville.”
The Statesville City Council approved a first reading of the newly amended ordinance Monday, and set a second reading for Oct. 21, WCNC reported. The change calls for a rezoning of “the area Gander RV sits on” that will result in the flag being in compliance, according to Fox46.
City officials and Gander RV had been discussing a compromise “for months,” reported the Record & Landmark.
A group of flag supporters attended the council meeting Monday and “the crowd let out a cheer in celebration” when the compromise was revealed, the station said.
Lemonis’ refusal to remove the flag won national support, and prompted a social media backlash against the city.
Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh acknowledged the bad publicity in a June press release that no longer appears on the city’s website.
“Some terrible things have been said about our wonderful town, and it hasn’t come from our citizens,” Kutteh said in the release, which was covered by the Charlotte Observer.
“But people from all over the country have jumped on this issue and called us names I can’t repeat. When our community’s efforts to conduct business in an orderly, lawful manner begins to hurt our businesses, then it’s time to put a stop to it.”