Entertainer of the Year Chris Stapleton Stays After ACMs to Clean Up

photo via ACMs

There’s just something about the guys from Kentucky that makes them built different. We’ve seen this from Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton specifically, and throughout the years. Most every country star participates in charity. It makes for excellent publicity and lucrative tax write offs. But you really find out who actually cares about the commoner when they go the extra mile when the cameras are off and most of the press has gone home.

There are quite a few examples to cite, like the time Chris Stapleton dropped off a check to the Lexington Habitat for Humanity low key and for no apparent reason, or his non-publicized donation to the United Mine Workers of America in 2015. Then there was last year during the devastating floods in Kentucky when Stapleton was photographed at a local Wal-Mart buying supplies for flood victims, and Tyler Childers was out helping neighbors in swamp boots.

Chris Stapleton won the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year award on Thursday night (5-11)—the first Entertainer of the Year award he’s won in his award-winning career. In fact, since 2015 when Stapleton virtually swept the CMAs as a relative unknown and shocked the country music world, Stapleton has been an awards show darling almost to the point of nauseating predictability.

But Entertainer of the Year is a different trophy than the rest. It’s enshrines you in the pantheon of the very topmost class of country entertainers of all time, and it was about time Stapleton got the distinction. He probably deserved it years ago, and from the CMAs too. But now he’s got his, and at a time when that window might be closing since so many new superstars are surging in country.

Chris Stapleton was super humble in his acceptance speech, saying that he didn’t think of himself as Entertainer of the Year material, and that it’s an award for others. “By any imaginable metric, I don’t deserve this. But thank you,” Stapleton said, getting shake voice near the end of his speech when he talked about the sacrifice his kids have gone through so their dad can be an entertainer on the road so many days a year.

But what might be most emblematic about Chris Stapleton’s unlikely position as an Entertainer of the Year—an award that often goes to ego-driven entertainers with an emphasis on their public image—is what happened afterwards. Getty Images photographer John Shearer happened to be milling around well after the ACM Awards had ended, and workers were cleaning up The Star facility in Frisco, TX where the show was held.

It happened to be that Entertainer of the Year Chris Stapleton hadn’t headed to a bar in Dallas to celebrate, and didn’t immediately hop on a bus to head home. Instead, Stapleton picked up a leaf blower and started helping the crew clean up the facility. Similar to the photo of Stapleton in Wal-Mart last year buying supplies for flood victims, it wasn’t supposed to make it to the public, but it did.

The shot really symbolizes the kind of Entertainer of the Year Chris Stapleton is. It also symbolizes the kind of Entertainer of the Year country music should want.

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