Camping World CEO would ‘rather go to jail’ than take down giant American flag, in tussle with NC city

FILE PHOTO: Camping World RV dealership in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Legal immigrant and self-made millionaire, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis is standing his ground and risking jail time in defiance of a court order to take down an over-sized American flag at one of his RV outlets in Statesville, North Carolina.

The huge flag flown there for several years already and at hundreds of other company store locations across the country is indeed in breech of a Statesville local ordinance that was passed earlier this year. Lemonis admits that, but his feelings for what the flag means supersedes the games being played by locals.

“The ordinance doesn’t matter to me,” Lemonis told Fox News anchor Martha McCallum on Monday. “If you look at the North Carolina statute, it says as long as it’s not impairing someone’s health and well-being it’s not a big deal.”

Video by Fox News

More than 150,000 people signed a petition asking that the flag be permitted to continue flying.

After watching a brief video comment by the Statesville mayor, Lemonis said, “That’s the first time I have seen the mayor. I tried to meet him in person. He didn’t want to meet.”

Lemonis told McCallum that the flag being flown at Gander RV in Statesville is “probably double the size it’s supposed to be.”

“If you look at the North Carolina statute,” he continued, “it says as long as it’s not impairing someone’s health and will being, it’s not a big deal. Flags are all across the country. This is not hurting anybody. They made the claim it could cause an accident on the freeway because it was too distracting. It was too beautiful.”

Lemonis was born in Lebanon and adopted by an American couple. “I am a legal immigrant to this country and … I am grateful for it,” he explained when asked why the flag is so important to him.

“I think all of the men and women and the police officers that have protected me and gave me the chance to come here. It’s my small way of paying it back. I had a flag in my business life since I was a kid. My family flew them at their car business in Miami. I own a barbecue restaurant in South Carolina and the same flag flies there. People claim we do it for marketing reasons. In all of our advertising never once has there been a flag in it.

Lemonis said that he wasn’t sure if the flag is a ‘positive’ for business. But he did explain, “When veterans show up at the stores for the flag raisings and do their veteran rides, they weep at the bottom of the flag pole. That’s the conviction I need to say it won’t come down. I would rather go to jail.

“Any possibility they would put you in jail?” McCallum asked.

“There is,” Lemonis said. “The city filed a lawsuit two months ago. They asked for a motion to ask the court to have me take it down. If we don’t take it down I will be in violation of the court order. Their reaction from the city is that I will go to jail.”



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