Miss Napa Valley caught in Super Bowl ad debacle

2012-02-16T00:30:00Z 2012-02-17T23:22:25Z Miss Napa Valley caught in Super Bowl ad debacleJENNIFER HUFFMAN Napa Valley Register
February 16, 2012 12:30 am  • 

Lisa Chan, Miss Napa Valley 2012, has found herself embroiled in a racially charged controversy over her participation in a political ad for former Michigan congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra.

In the ad, which ran in Michigan during the Super Bowl, Chan portrayed an Asian person riding on a bicycle and standing near what appears to be a rice paddy. 

Titled “Debbie Spend it Now,” the target of the ad was Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Hoekstra’s opponent. Hoekstra’s campaign has criticized Stabenow for “big-spending policies,” a “growing dependence on China” and a weakened U.S. economy.

In the commercial, Chan’s character bicycled up to the camera and appeared to be wearing a straw hat on her back. A gong sound and stereotypical “Asian” music could be heard in the background. 

Using broken English, Chan’s character thanked Stabenow for weakening the U.S. economy and overspending. 

“Debbie spend so much American money,” Chan’s character said. “You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good.” 

The ad also included a link to a campaign website that read “The Great Wall of Debt” and included Chinese graphics. That website is no longer active. 

At first, Hoekstra defended the commercial.

“The ad is anti-Debbie Stabenow,” Hoekstra said in a Fox news interview on Feb. 6. “There’s nothing in here that has a racial tint at all.”

Hoekstra also accused his opponent of “playing the race card.” 

After an outcry among Asian-American groups, the ad was removed later and replaced with a different ad discussing “wasteful government spending.” Chan is not featured. 

“I am appalled at the Hoekstra campaign’s offensive and insensitive Super Bowl ad that relies heavily on negative Asian stereotypes,” Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., wrote in a statement. 

Chu is the first Chinese-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress and chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“I am glad to see the anti-Chinese Hoekstra political ad and website have been taken down,” Chu wrote on Facebook after the ad was removed. 

“There is no place for stereotypes and prejudice in our national discourse. Hoekstra should recognize that fact and take responsibility for his actions. Quietly removing a racist ad and website does not demonstrate remorse for all of the people who were offended; it merely demonstrates that Hoekstra was concerned for his political image. Rep. Hoekstra should be ashamed of himself.” 

A message left for Hoekstra was not returned. 

Chan, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, said she chose the title of Miss Napa Valley so she could compete in the Miss California USA pageant this past January. 

Chan is also CEO and president of TheStrive. com, a nonprofit she founded when she was 17. In a 2011 interview, Chan said she was 21 and lived in San Francisco. 

Chan did not return phone calls or email requests for comment this week, but released this statement Wednesday:

“I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities,” she wrote. “As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation, and I am determined to resolve my actions.”

The video may have been removed from Hoekstra’s website, but it can still be viewed on YouTube. A number of parody videos lampooning the commercial have also been created. 

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(44) Comments

  1. carry on
    Report Abuse
    carry on - February 16, 2012 12:46 am
    "a growing dependence on China and a weakened U.S. economy"
    Sounds about right, the truth hurts.

    This is politics are usual and only the beginning,they are just warming up, demand an apology, lol and move on.

    As for Ms. Chan, she did nothing wrong,it was work.

    "Race Card"?, thats an overused lame claim
  2. funnyme
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    funnyme - February 16, 2012 5:27 am
    So, which part of the ad is no true? I missed it.

    I'm disappointed though that this girl 'had' to apologize...for what, again?

    ROFLOL!
  3. Cookie
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    Cookie - February 16, 2012 6:07 am
    Give the crown back. This award can't be tarnished.
  4. rpcv
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    rpcv - February 16, 2012 6:18 am
    This is particularly interesting and ironic because most of that debt to China came from George Bush's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, which he never included in the budget during his 8 years in office. It was entirely funded with "emergency/supplemental" appropriations (borrowed money). China's holdings of government debt, as a percentage of all foreign-held government debt, decreased a bit between 2010 and 2011 (during the Obama administration), but have increased significantly since 2000. At that time China held just 6 percent of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities; now it's the largest single holder of U.S. government debt, with 26 percent of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities. (Information from Wikipedia, sources cited.)
  5. gettingreal
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    gettingreal - February 16, 2012 6:27 am
    When you can't win the argument on facts just play the race card!!
  6. MarkMiwords
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    MarkMiwords - February 16, 2012 7:58 am
    Reminds me of WWII and Korean War propaganda. A beautiful young lady used in a most unattractive way. I felt offended, for myself, and my Chinese friends.
  7. Non-native
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    Non-native - February 16, 2012 8:04 am
    Cookie, at first I didn't get you and even commented against one of your comments. After reading more of your comments I get you, and think you are brilliant! Thank you for a little bit of levity every day.
  8. glenroy
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    glenroy - February 16, 2012 8:35 am
    Just a bunch of whining liberals…because they’re getting pounded in the rust bucket from right to left. It always comes to race baiting with liberals anyways.

    Also, no surprise a liberal would blame Bush for debt and or lost jobs to China, problem with that JINGO is it was the democrats and Clinton that took millions of dollars in donations from the People’s Liberation Army in exchange for granting unconditional Most Favored Nation status. Two conditions Clinton ignored and which were required prior to unconditional status is a free press and multi party elections. A little 'jing' goes a long ways with crony liberals when it comes to ruining our country.

    Anyone who paid attention at the time, if you cared about wage earners and or national security, you should have taken the time to educate yourself...you could have realized what they were doing to our economy along the way.

    There is no sham, conscious or credibility with modern era liberalism….just crony corruption.
  9. FrankA
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    FrankA - February 16, 2012 8:42 am
    The manufactured 'outrage' over this ad is just laughable.
  10. fmmt47
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    fmmt47 - February 16, 2012 8:44 am
    What's wrong with the truth and what racial overtones? China has the new roads, bridges, jobs, high rises, power plants, airports, and other "new" infrastructure. We have what? Crummy roads, collapsing bridges (most being rebuilt by Chinese contractors), no jobs, deteriorating cities, a crumbling power generation infrastructure, old out of date airports, and other "old" infrastructure in general. Make sure you thank your elected officials and their corporate masters for sending all of our jobs overseas for the last 30 years.
  11. Report Abuse
    - February 16, 2012 8:56 am
    Chan needs a new talent manager... Too bad she got suckered into that job. Actors should carefully determine the right political position to take. i.e. ex. Marlon Brando at the Oscar's.
  12. firststreetmayor
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    firststreetmayor - February 16, 2012 9:17 am
    Maybe we could run a add in China "our sister city" with Ms. U.S.A. ...........................................
    "Don't worry, The U.S. will fight all Wars that break out in the world, you can save all your $$$.
  13. Sandra
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    Sandra - February 16, 2012 9:29 am
    Manufactured outrage is correct. Let's ignore the truth of the ad, and instead focus on the politically correct, or incorrect way it was done. The truth of the matter is our leadership has sold us down the river and we are docking in China. China, a country who uses slave/political prisoner labor, harvests and sell prisoners body parts, and cheerfully accepts our money to continue to dominate over it's populace and make crap to sell us. And instead of dealing with that reality, some politicians would rather play the race card.
  14. nightwatchman
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    nightwatchman - February 16, 2012 9:41 am
    I looked up Hoekstra's record - he voted for: Afghan War (added to the deficit) Iraq War (added to the deficit) Medicare Part D Benefit (ditto), Bush Tax Cuts (yep). Where does he get off?
  15. brownsvalleygirl
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    brownsvalleygirl - February 16, 2012 9:50 am
    Politics aside, the best part about this story are the lampoon videos on You Tube. Quite funny.
  16. napken
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    napken - February 16, 2012 10:27 am
    Ms. Chan has committed the mortal sin of pointing out a flaw in "The Great Ones" grand scheme. Had she appeared in an anti republican or condeming GWB there would be no "debacle".
    One must learn to NEVER question the lefties outcomes, but rather examine their INTENTIONS. Remember, never ever point out the truth to a lib, they don't like it and as a knee-reflex call you ____phobic (fill in the blank),racist, or a rich elitist who hates women or the poor... it's really all they have...sad actually....
  17. heartofthenapavalley
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    heartofthenapavalley - February 16, 2012 10:44 am
    The commenter’s completely miss the dramatic irony of this story. Ms. Chan started a non-profit called The Strive; the mission statement of TheStrive.org is "we achieve our mission to empower at-risk youth through inspiration and improved public education." While Ms Chan has deeply apologized for her youthful transgression, she is an intelligent woman who received a Sociology degree from UC.

    Simply, she should have known better, and not participated in Republican Hoekstra’s race-baiting political advertisement.
    “The ad is anti-Debbie Stabenow,” Hoekstra said in a Fox news [Faux News] interview on Feb. 6. “There’s nothing in here that has a racial tint at all.” Mr. Hoekstra chooses to exploit racial prejudice to hide the true agenda of his crony capitalist financial backers – promoting business with a Communist country that crushes democratic political expression and worker rights in order to maximize profits.
  18. itsroutine
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    itsroutine - February 16, 2012 11:12 am
    Are you guys serious? This is basically the Asian equivalent of a minstrel show. Regardless of the politics, they had her play some archaic stereotype of Asians and that kind of thing doesn't belong in a Super Bowl ad.

    I understand it may be hard for a lot of non-minorities to understand, but these sorts of "harmless" stereotypes and stunts are something a lot of us have had to deal with everyday of our lives when people don't take us seriously. For everyone who does their best to rise above cliches, this is horrible because it is one of our own pulling us right back down.
  19. parallelparking
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    parallelparking - February 16, 2012 11:42 am
    It seems our Miss Napa Valley will do anything for money. Even claim she's representative of the Napa Valley, when she's barely driven through here.
  20. Hear Ye
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    Hear Ye - February 16, 2012 11:47 am
    The usual suspects on here will defend anything as long as its in support of their supposed ideology. That's what happens when being Republican is more important than being American.
  21. SouthNapa
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    SouthNapa - February 16, 2012 2:12 pm
    I feel pity for those that don't see any problem with this ad. This ad in my opinion is extremely racist. Whether or not what is said in the ad is accurate is beside the point, it's the method in which the message is delivered that is offensive. How sad that "Miss Napa Valley" would sell herself and her heritage out for a few bucks.
  22. RJ
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    RJ - February 16, 2012 2:37 pm
    And "Miss Napa Valley" is not from it nor does she have a credible connection to it; as the Register previously reported.
  23. gettingreal
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    gettingreal - February 16, 2012 5:26 pm
    Here's the reality of our national debt!

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/
  24. carry on
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    carry on - February 16, 2012 8:55 pm
    RJ said: "And "Miss Napa Valley" is not from it nor does she have a credible connection to it; as the Register previously reported.

    Actually she has all the credible connection needed!
    This was a Super Bowl ad, no one would turn down if given the opportunity and the connection to Miss Napa Valley wouldn't have been made known except we are all on the NVR site.

  25. napablogger
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    napablogger - February 16, 2012 11:56 pm
    itsroutine, yes, this is the equivalent of seeing some white americans in a chinese ad,the Dad is wearing plaid shorts, underwear and white sox with a week old beard, swilling a Budweiser, Mom is anorexically skinny and laughing hysterically for no apparent reason, and the kids are screaming at each other pulling each others hair, and Dad blubbers out I dare you Chinese call us racists, we are carrying you losers on our backs because we are exceptionalism ists plus we can kick your ax at football.

    Voice over: China will no longer pay America's debts.

    Ha ha ha. Hilarious, right?
  26. funnyme
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    funnyme - February 17, 2012 6:26 am
    Well, it sure looks like 'bad publicity is better than no publicity at all'. No one knew who this girl was until now. Well, with the exception of a "handful" of Bay Area people.

    She better get 'choosy' when Hollywood comes knocking on her door next!
    [Listen Girl, you don't want to disappoint the stereotypical minorities, make sure you get a 'neutral' role next time!]


    And as for China's prosperity at the Americans' expense, I'm sure it's just an 'act'...
  27. Sandra
    Report Abuse
    Sandra - February 17, 2012 8:04 am
    Whether you agree or disagree that this is racial stereotyping, the ability to ignore the crimes China visits daily upon it's own citizens, and the ability to ignore our own elected officials have of selling us to China, to instead gripe over whether the commercial has racial overtones, astounds me.
  28. alixzander
    Report Abuse
    alixzander - February 17, 2012 8:38 am
    I love how predictable the far right wing readers of the Napa Register are.

    Any excuse to justify, as an earlier poster put it, the Asian equivalent of a minstrel show.

    They really manage to blame the victim by accusing those standing up to blatant oppression has playing the race card. This is modern day racism at its finest.
  29. farmboy
    Report Abuse
    farmboy - February 17, 2012 10:09 am
    alixzander said: "I love how predictable the far right wing readers of the Napa Register are.Any excuse to justify, as an earlier poster put it, the Asian equivalent of a minstrel show.They really manage to blame the victim by accusing those standing up to blatant oppression has playing the race card. This is modern day racism at its finest. "

    I hope you realize that the far left, liberal, and "progessive" are just as predictable, (as all dogmatic extremes are). I don't have a problem with a debate about the ad content, but now actors are being blamed for taking a role that is not politically correct? So, I guess we should blame James Gandolfini and Marlin Brando for defaming Italian Americans and promoting organized crime? Come on, actors are just actors and they may or may not agree with their characters.
  30. BryanPoli
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    BryanPoli - February 17, 2012 1:49 pm
    The bicycle helped build China.

    See you in San Francisco
  31. BryanPoli
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    BryanPoli - February 17, 2012 2:03 pm
    I just watched the clip on YouTube and the bicycle is the #1 form of transportation in the world. A dirt road on a rice field is no problem for a bicycle.

    But we all need a bit of comedy so check out "Debbie Spend It Now-- Superbowl Commercial OUTTAKES Senator Pete Hoekstra/ spoof parody" on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzox0VSCNKw

    See you on Clement Street
  32. alixzander
    Report Abuse
    alixzander - February 17, 2012 4:28 pm
    "hope you realize that the far left, liberal, and "progessive" are just as predictable, (as all dogmatic extremes are)."

    And, you say this as if it somehow disproves the point about how right wingers blame the victims of racism for the racism inflicted against them by accusing the victims of playing the race card. Typical right wing dribble.

    "I don't have a problem with a debate about the ad content, but now actors are being blamed for taking a role that is not politically correct?"

    Also typical! Instead of understanding this has racist you use the euphemism "politically correct."

    This isn't about being political correct. Its about racism, racial dynamics, and understanding how they operate in society. People just love to sweep racism under the rug by playing the "politically correct" card.


  33. Fire Mike
    Report Abuse
    Fire Mike - February 17, 2012 4:47 pm
    In case anyone cares, the ad does appear to have had some impact on the Michigan Senate race. According to Public Policy Polling:

    “54% of voters in the state were familiar with it, and within that group 45% said it made them less likely to vote for him [Hoekstra] compared to only 16% who considered it a positive and 37% who said it didn't make a difference to them either way. Independents said they were turned off by it and he's gone from leading with them by 6 points in July to now trailing by 4 points.”

    Apparently, race-baiting isn’t helpful in Michigan.
  34. itsroutine
    Report Abuse
    itsroutine - February 18, 2012 12:55 am
    Sandra said: "Whether you agree or disagree that this is racial stereotyping, the ability to ignore the crimes China visits daily upon it's own citizens, and the ability to ignore our own elected officials have of selling us to China, to instead gripe over whether the commercial has racial overtones, astounds me. "

    If you think that racism is an acceptable way to get your point across, you should probably rethink your strategy for communicating your political arguments.
  35. Sandra
    Report Abuse
    Sandra - February 18, 2012 8:37 am
    While some continue to bleat about whether depicting a Chinese person riding a bike on a dirt road by a rice paddy is racism, China continues down it's road of eventually owning the U.S., while our politicians sell us to the highest bidder. Won't it be wonderful to be owned by this type of government? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China

    Never mind the atrocities visited daily on political prisoners, on Tibet, on Turkestan, or the rigid oppression regarding religion, free speech, etc. Let's focus on whether a Chinese girl on a bike is a racial stereotype, and ignore the true message of the ad.
  36. alixzander
    Report Abuse
    alixzander - February 18, 2012 3:15 pm
    Sandra said: "While some continue to bleat about whether depicting a Chinese person riding a bike on a dirt road by a rice paddy is racism, China continues down it's road of eventually owning the U.S., while our politicians sell us to the highest bidder. Won't it be wonderful to be owned by this type of government? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_ChinaNever mind the atrocities visited daily on political prisoners, on Tibet, on Turkestan, or the rigid oppression regarding religion, free speech, etc. Let's focus on whether a Chinese girl on a bike is a racial stereotype, and ignore the true message of the ad. "

    Yeah, lets ignore racism and rather use it to promote our own flawed ultra right wing agenda.
  37. Raven
    Report Abuse
    Raven - February 18, 2012 6:21 pm
    eventually owning the U.S.,



    yeah.....having a whopping 8 percent of the debt is surely on that track...
  38. Sandra
    Report Abuse
    Sandra - February 19, 2012 9:18 am
    Flawed right wing agenda? So Alix, are you saying freedom from having my body parts harvested if I am a political prisoner, freedom of speech, religion, and being granted basic human rights is a flawed right wing agenda? Wow. Is China your vision of Utopia? Having every movement dictated and watched over is your idea of a warm and fuzzy, perfect, left wing world? Cause it seems to me that is what you are defending. I said the racism aspect was certainly debatable. What is not debatable is the reality of life in China, and that our politicians have sold us to the highest bidder. Yet you seem to be very able to keep your blinders on to that, and instead continue to make a flawed argument on whether the ad was racist.
  39. Sandra
    Report Abuse
    Sandra - February 19, 2012 9:27 am
    Raven, fyi, there is more to it than just owning part of the debt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Investment_Corporation
    http://csis.org/publication/chinas-investment-united-states
    http://csis.org/files/publication/111107_Freeman_Briefing_China_Investment_in_US.pdf
    http://rhgroup.net/interactive/china-investment-monitor
  40. Sandra
    Report Abuse
    Sandra - February 19, 2012 11:02 am
    Regarding "you think that racism is an acceptable way to get your point across, you should probably rethink your strategy for communicating your political arguments." That is a flawed analysis of what I said. I said that aspect was open for debate, but it astounded me that this is what people focused on, instead of the underlying truth of the ad. People have lost the ability to see the forest through the trees. Yes, racism is bad, and if you wish to discuss the horrors of racism, China is a grand example of that. China is also the country that the so called liberal targeted in the ad is selling us to. So what is worse, being sold to racist overlords by "Your team" (so it's all right?), or a girl on a bike by a rice paddy? Seriously, have we as a society lost all perspective?

  41. itsroutine
    Report Abuse
    itsroutine - February 20, 2012 12:05 am
    Sandra said: "So what is worse, being sold to racist overlords by "Your team" (so it's all right?), or a girl on a bike by a rice paddy? Seriously, have we as a society lost all perspective?"

    The ad was racist, plain and simple. You refuse to admit that.

    I have thoughts on China too, and I actually agree with many things you say, unfortunately I don't really want to pursue that conversation with anyone who believes that a minstrel show is an excusable form of getting a political point across.
  42. Sandra
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    Sandra - February 20, 2012 9:56 am
    "The ad was racist, plain and simple. You refuse to admit that." I have said absolutely nothing about whether the ad was racist or not. I said that it was a debatable subject, and have not debated it here. What I am pointing out is the skewed thinking of those who choose to focus on this one small aspect of the ad, and ignore the realty of what the ad portrayed. I question, in all sincerity, how a person with a working brain does that. I have the ability to see degrees of wrongness. Example, poking someone in the chest with your finger out of anger, is wrong. Shooting them in the head is worse. Focusing on the debate over a stereotype, instead of the true focus of the ad, is akin to outrage over the finger poking, instead of the murder. I find it interesting that you read my stance so incorrectly. I find it strange that so many choose to continue to ignore real atrocities, and instead focus on the stereotype portrayed in this ad.
  43. Raven
    Report Abuse
    Raven - February 21, 2012 5:06 pm
    and the total investment from china is about 2 trillion as of last year...but "This may be apocalyptic for some. In other words, if $900 billion in Chinese purchases was a sign of Chinese influence, $2 trillion is far worse. In fact, the huge figure indicates the opposite: the PRC holds all those dollars because it has no choice.

    China cannot spend foreign currency at home. Because the state controls the entire financial system and foreign currency cannot be invested overseas by citizens, any attempt to spend foreign currency at home – for instance to build hospitals — returns the funds to the state. When pushed, senior Chinese officials acknowledge this."


    http://blogs.reuters.com/india-expertzone/2011/03/02/chinese-investment-in-us-2-trln-and-counting/
  44. Sandra
    Report Abuse
    Sandra - February 22, 2012 8:41 am
    So Raven, Am I understanding your argument correctly. You are saying since individuals cannot profit from foreign money earned and it all reverts back to the government, then that makes it not a problem? Peoples Republic of China holds all the money. PRC is exactly what I am talking about. PRC commits all the atrocities, and we, through our bad decisions, are financially supporting this. Please explain to me how this is not a problem? Please explain to me how PRC holding a large portion of our debt, and making huge profit off of us, in the way described by your post is a good thing.
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