As of Tuesday morning (July 29), Garth Brooks is no longer eligible for the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year award. The country singer held a press conference to announce that he had permanently withdrawn himself from the category to ensure that a new artist would be able to win the award. Brooks has won the award seven times: 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2016, 2017, and most recently in 2019. While he made sure to highlight that he appreciates all of the nodes from the CMA, he also stated that ever since he won the award last year, he had been considering giving up his position on the ballot. He cited a Tweet he saw last year stating “Hey man. This guy. Why doesn’t he step down?” as the catalyst that led to him stepping down.

Brooks spoke of how he views the award as an “emeritus thing, where you get to go out as the entertainer of the year and then hopefully you’re always introduced as someone who was lucky enough to walk away with that award” and that the recognition of his former winnings is “more than enough for me” (Source: CMT). He continued on to hint at the possibility of Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and more being up for the award this year. He completed the announcement by saying that stepping down has been a “freeing feeling” and he is excited to see a new artist experience the “coolest nod from the industry.” While the gesture is surprising, it seems genuine and has added much excitement to the upcoming award show.