Nebraska’s governor unveiled a new license plate design Tuesday, and reaction to the central image of a barefooted planter tossing seeds from an outstretched apron was met with scorn and ridicule from some constituents.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said with pride during the “ta-da!” unveiling in Lincoln that “one of our state’s most recognizable images, The Sower, is displayed in the background, above the recognition of our state’s 150th year of statehood.”
And it’s the sower — his statue sits atop the state’s Capitol building — who is yielding a bumper crop’s worth of mocking rejoinders on the governor’s official Facebook page and in other social media outlets.
“We are not a sower. A combine, tractor, cornfield, cows, football, blizzard, sunshine, ANYTHING but this please!!!!” posted one commenter.
“Is this a ploy to get people to shell out $70 for specialty plates? I know I will,” wrote another. “And the design is sooooo boring.”
Several people on Twitter, Facebook and the comment section of the Omaha World-Herald’s report saw a certain naughtiness in how the sower was extending his apron just below his waist. “[He] looks like he’s doing something he shouldn’t be doing in public,” one critic wrote.
Other themes included “ugly,” “yuck” and disappointment that the state has reinforced its “flyover country” reputation.
The top of the plate features “Nebraska” in gold lettering on a blue field. The bottom of the plate highlights the year of Nebraska’s statehood — 1867 — as well as the year of the state’s 150th birthday.
There also was much lament for the lack of red — the signature color of the University of Nebraska “Big Red” Cornhuskers football team. “Why do we have University of Michigan colors on our new plates?” read a posting on coverage from the Omaha World-Herald.
Unless there is a change of heart in the heartland, the plates will start debuting on bumpers in January.
Rhonda Lahm, Nebraska’s director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, joined the governor at the ceremony and acknowledged the blowback from some constituents.
“The design of the Sower is a very traditional image for the state of Nebraska,” Lahm said. “We feel it is very appropriate for our state celebrating its 150th birthday.”
She added that “other people can interpret whatever they want to interpret” concerning the risqué impression some critics are getting, “but I think it’s very straightforward.”