SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — In one corner, it's the governor of South Dakota, most famous among conservatives for her refusal to pass statewide mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the other corner, a rapper who rocketed to fame in 2019 with the song "Old Town Road."
The battle? Over shoes. "Satan Shoes," specifically, with 666 pairs available for sale at $1,018 each.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem called out rapper Lil Nas X via Twitter on Sunday, March 28, for his sale of Nike sneakers modified to include a pentagram and a drop of blood, marketed as "Satan Shoes."
Noem framed their sale as part of battle over the souls of children.
"We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win," she posted via her official Twitter account.
Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it's "exclusive." But do you know what's more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul.— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 28, 2021
We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win. https://t.co/m1k1YWFpuo
Lil Nas X quickly responded, calling out Noem's priorities (all spelling and capitalizations per Lil Nas X): "ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!"
ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job! https://t.co/qaor6W0B9C— nope 🏹 (@LilNasX) March 28, 2021
Noem countered back with a Bible verse, specifically Matthew 16:26: "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 28, 2021
-Matthew 16:26 https://t.co/pS6132euFd
Both Noem and Lil Nas X have reasons to argue over Twitter that transcends sneakers.
The rapper is promoting a new single and trying to sell shoes, and feuding with a state governor can't help but give him more publicity. His Twitter response to Noem has 180,000 likes as of Monday, March 29.
Noem, for her part, is facing some culture war credibility issues, according to some far-right critics. She was criticized last week by some conservative media outlets over her decision to send back a piece of legislation to state lawmakers, in a move known as a style and form veto.
The legislation, House Bill 1217, is designed to obstruct transgender girls and women from playing in girls' and women's sports. Noem's proposed revisions narrowed the provisions of the legislation.
Both her proposed changes, and the veto itself, were characterized by some on the political right as a betrayal of their shared principles, and they framed Noem as a failed culture warrior. Noem's office defended her choices and claimed her critics were trying to "cancel" her.