• Burgess Owens has won Utah's 4th district House seat by 0.6%
  • He edged out Republican competitors by heading to the right, calling BLM "Marxist" and saying Colin Kaepernick "spews hate"
  • He took a more measured tone in his victory remarks and was congratulated by Donald Trump

The hyper-competitive race for Utah’s 4th district U.S. House seat was won Monday by Republican Burgess Owens, a Black former NFL player who positioned himself as the “anti-Colin Kaepernick.” Burgess' battle with Democrat Rep. Ben McAdams had been too close to call since Election Day on Nov. 3.

Burgess received 47.7% of the vote, compared to McAdams' 46.7%. Burgess edged McAdams by fewer than 4,000 votes.

Democrats in 2018 won the district of Salt Lake City’s suburbs by fewer than 700 votes. Owens was able to take it with the same tactic he used to win a crowded Republican primary: doubling down on far-right positions.

Owens, 69, was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised in Florida. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Miami. Owens claimed to be a "cocky liberal" but converted to the Republican Party after watching "the rise of Ronald Reagan and yearning to start his own business," according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Owens grew up a Baptist and later converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After he declared bankruptcy from his electronic gadgets business, Owens took a sales job with Utah-based software company WordPerfect. He later became an author of anti-socialism books and also founded a non-profit for troubled youth.

Owens would gain national attention as a contributor to Fox News. He also spoke at the recent Republican National Convention.

Owens was one of the first Black players on the University of Miami’s football team and spent a decade in the NFL, winning a Superbowl in 1981 with the Oakland Raiders. He’s a relative newcomer to political races but has found a natural place in the Republican party by positioning himself against Kaepernick, the Black football player who sparked controversy in the sports world by kneeling in protest of police violence.

Owens’ website billed him as a “cultural counterweight to the hatred that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spewed for the last few years.” He also attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, saying calling it Marxist and saying, “They hate God, they hate the family unit, the nuclear family, and they hate capitalism.”

His positions helped net him a victory in a competitive Republican primary, setting him apart and to the right of his competitors. He even gave a nod to the QAnon conspiracy theory, an ideologically diverse group whose core tenets hold that Democrats are complicit in a Satan-worshipping, baby-harvesting global pedophile ring to bring about new world order.

A spokesperson for Owens later clarified that he does not believe the theory himself.

“What I find interesting is anytime you bring up child trafficking, we get from the left a word called QAnon,” said Owens. “One of the things we need to recognize with the left is if they ever say the word conspiracy, let’s look into it much deeper because there’s something they’re trying to keep us away from.”

Owens’ race shields him from some liberal criticism that many Republicans have faced when denouncing Kaepernick or Black Lives Matter. It also connects him to former representative Mia Love, the first Black Republican won representative, who held the district before being unseated in 2018.

Owens took a more moderated tone in his victory remarks. He thanked both voters and his opponent.

“Thank you Utah voters. I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve,” said Owens. “I promise to be an open ear for all Utahns and to serve with all I have. Now, it’s time to get to work.”

His victory, and presumably his fierce loyalty, even earned him a shoutout from President Donald Trump.