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Garth Brooks withdraws from running for CMA entertainer of the year

Brooks wants a country music star from the "next generation" to be recognized.
/ Source: TODAY

Garth Brooks won't compete in the entertainer of the year category at this year's 54th Annual CMA Awards — or ever again — if he has his way.

The 58-year-old country music legend, who's won the coveted award seven times, is stepping back to allow a musician from the "next generation" to be recognized, he revealed during a virtual press conference that aired Wednesday on Facebook Watch.

"It's time for somebody else to hold that award," Brooks told reporters, adding that he knows younger musicians are "out there busting their butts."

Brooks last won the entertainer of the year award — considered by many to be the top prize in country music — in 2019, beating out other strong fellow contenders, including Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Eric Church.

The "Friends in Low Places" singer said he was inspired to drop out of the category after seeing country music fans on social media complain about his win last year. "There was one tweet in there that really stuck in my head," Brooks revealed. "It said, 'Hey, man. This guy, why doesn't he step down (and leave) the entertainer ... for the next generation?' 100% agree."

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood arrive for the 42nd Annual Kennedy Awards Honors in Washington
Garth Brooks poses with wife Trisha Yearwood at the 42nd Annual Kennedy Awards Honors in Washington, D.C., in December 2019Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Brooks said he contacted the Country Music Association to pitch the idea of establishing an "'entertainer of the year emeritus' kind of thing."

The association was "very sweet to entertain that thought" but ultimately rejected the idea, explaining to Brooks that it doesn't determine "what artist is up for what award."

"So with all the love in the world, all the gratefulness — because the last thing I want to do is seem ungrateful to the CMAs and everybody that has voted for us — we are officially pulling ourselves out of entertainer of the year," he explained.

Voting for this year's CMA Awards began earlier this summer, with final ballot voting closing in October.

In a statement to TODAY, the Country Music Association confirmed that "nominees and winners of the CMA Awards are selected by the vote of eligible members of the Country Music Association and not by CMA."

"The long-standing CMA Awards rules do not allow individuals to remove themselves from the balloting process at any point," the statement continued. "The 2020 CMA Awards second ballot will be emailed to eligible voting members this Friday, July 31. If voters have nominated Garth Brooks in the first round, his name will appear on the second ballot. It will then be up to voters in this second round to select their top finalists."

During his press conference, Brooks said he was honored by the many wins he'd scored in the category. "My number is seven. You guys know that inside and out. We feel very lucky with seven," he said.

He added that he looked forward to attending this year's ceremony with his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yearwood. "I'll be with the coolest date on the planet," he gushed.

The singer also revealed that one of his daughters recently tested positive for the coronavirus, but is now doing fine.

Brooks confirmed that the positive test result prompted him and Yearwood to postpone a Facebook Live concert earlier this month because the couple work closely with the daughter's husband. "So that was the possible scare. So everybody went and got tested, and everybody tested negative, so we were back up and running pretty quick," he shared.

His daughter "quarantined for another 14 days after her time as well," he added. "So she’s feeling great and we thank everybody for their concern and everybody for their sweet, sweet wishes."