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Garth Brooks feels the Bern over Sanders shirt mix-up

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Washington (AFP)

US country music icon Garth Brooks posted a picture of himself in a "Sanders" football jersey after a gig in Detroit -- unaware of the anger he would spark among perplexed fans who thought he was weighing in on the US election.

In fact, the Grammy-winning crooner had on the shirt of NFL running back Barry Sanders, whose Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Lions made him a living legend in the city.

But when he posted the photo on Instagram after Saturday's concert, Brooks copped an earful from a portion of his 1.4 million followers who thought he was endorsing leftist Bernie Sanders.

"Garth, I can't believe you are wearing a jersey for a communist," wrote one forlorn Instagrammer, disparaging the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in this year's presidential race.

"I've spent the last 45 minutes crying and throwing up outside of my shower."

"I liked you a lot bub but snowflake Bernie? You done lost your marbles!!" added a commentator.

"No thanks! Trump 2020!" posted another.

Country music dominates the airwaves in many conservative-leaning states, and some of those commenting were self-described supporters of Republican President Donald Trump.

There may be reason for the confusion. Brooks, 58, was an unabashed fan of Democratic president Barack Obama, even singing for him at a pre-inauguration concert in January 2009.

With the Brooks photo receiving thousands of comments, the figures involved seized the moment.

"Hey @garthbrooks, want to be my VP?" Barry Sanders tweeted Friday.

"Hey @BarrySanders I would run any race with you! #Number20for2020," replied Brooks, the best-selling country music artist of all time.

The Lions tweeted the slogan "Barry 2020" with a picture of their former player wearing his jersey. "He's got our vote," the team said.

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