Garth Brooks is permanently removing himself from the running for CMA Entertainer of the Year. The country icon announced the news on Wednesday morning (July 29), during a press conference.

To media and fans, who were watching live on Brooks' Facebook page, the singer explained that he began discussing the possibility of officially pulling himself out of the running for Entertainer of the Year with the Country Music Association soon after the 2019 CMA Awards. Brooks won the award that night over, among others, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church, each considered favorites for the honor, prompting Church to make an onstage dig at Brooks during a concert.

"You pretty much saw what happened after the CMAs, all the way through the new year. It got a little — it wasn't fun, let's put it that way," Brooks admitted. "But there was one tweet that really stuck in my head," he adds, explaining that the message asked Brooks to step down from contention for the honor in the future.

The tweet stuck with Brooks, who "100 percent agreed" with the idea. "The last thing I want to do is seem ungrateful," he notes, but "it's time for somebody else to hold that award ... 'cause they're all out there busting their butts."

Throughout his career, Brooks has won CMA Entertainer of the Year seven times: in 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2016, 2017 and 2019. The singer considers seven his lucky number.

Brooks had hoped to share this decision during CMA Fest, if not earlier, but due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, he used the press conference to make the announcement ahead of the announcement of 2020 CMA Awards nominations. He clarifies, however, that he still would like to be considered for all other CMA Awards, and all ACM categories, including Entertainer of the Year.

"I'm extremely competitive," the artist admits, saying that those wins "mean the world to me ... It's just, with Entertainer, we've been lucky enough to carry that home a number of times, and feel like it's somebody else's turn."

In a statement to the Tennessean, the CMA explains that voting rules do not allow artists to officially withdraw from award consideration: "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."

Brooks had a stadium tour planned for 2020, and was hoping to do more small-venue, "dive bar"-style shows, but those plans have been put on hold due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The country superstar has, however, continued his weekly Inside Studio G Facebook livestream events, and he's also put on two livestream concerts, as well as a drive-in show.

Brooks recently released a brand-new song, "We Belong to Each Other." His long-promised next album, Fun, is done, the singer says, but he's not particularly eager to release it while fans are quarantined due to COVID-19.

"I don't want to be the guy that tries to do something in the midst where everybody is hurting," Brooks says. "The album's ready to go. It's just, how do you get out and promote and be happy and jolly while everybody's out there fighting for their lives not only physically, but fighting for their lives financially?"

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