Garth Brooks is ready to let someone else win one of country music's biggest awards.
The country legend announced on Wednesday that he will be indefinitely withdrawing himself from contention for the CMA Awards' prestigious Entertainer of the Year honor, a prize he's won seven times in his career.
"It's time for somebody else to hold that award," Brooks told reporters in a virtual press conference. "With all the love in the world, we are officially pulling ourselves out of Entertainer of the Year."
Brooks first won the award in 1991, and took home subsequent Entertainer of the Year honors in 1992, 1997, 1998, 2016, 2017 and 2019. He said it was after his last win that he started to consider stepping back -- as he saw some country fans point out that major entertainers like Carrie Underwood and Chris Stapleton had never won the award.
"There was one tweet in there that really stuck in my head," the "Dive Bar" singer recalled. "It said, 'Hey, man. This guy, why doesn't he just step down [and leave] the entertainer for the next generation?' 100 percent agree."
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"The last thing I want to do is seem ungrateful," he added, "[but] it's time for somebody else to hold that award... 'cause they're all out there busting their butts."
Brooks said he asked the Country Music Association to grant him a sort of "Entertainer of the Year emeritus" title instead, but they weren't able to do that. They also denied his request to be removed from the ballot for Entertainer of the Year -- which is voted on by Association members rather than determined by an awards committee. So he made his announcement in order to let his peers know to write someone else's name in the upcoming second round of voting.
However, not all of Brooks' peers are accepting of the idea. Country singer and songwriter Stever Wariner took to Twitter with a viral message that was shared by Blake Shelton, writing, "If you’ve ever seen @garthbrooks live, you know why he consistently wins entertainer of the year. There is no one as big as Garth, but more importantly there is no one as kind."
Shelton retweeted the message, adding, "Agreed Steve.... He is Garth Brooks. GARTH BROOKS!!! I don’t give a sh*t what anyone says. ANYONE. Entertainer of the century."
Agreed Steve.... He is Garth Brooks. GARTH BROOKS!!! I don’t give a shit what anyone says. ANYONE. Entertainer of the century. https://t.co/42nuB4sVVW
ET was backstage with Brooks after his 2019 Entertainer of the Year win -- what may now be his last -- where he used much of his speech to shine the spotlight on his fellow country stars and up-and-coming entertainers like Luke Combs and Kelsea Ballerini, and sent a special shout out to wife and fellow country star Trisha Yearwood.
"This means the world to me," he told ET backstage. "The fact that it's No. 7 and the fact that it came on the tribute to women's night, being married to one of the greatest female singers ever, being the father of three daughters, love this show. This is very special."