What Do Beyoncé and Stetson University Have in common?

Students stand in Holler Fountain wearing Stetson Hats.
Beyoncé wears a Stetson Hat
Beyoncé, shown at the 2024 Grammy Awards, has sparked worldwide interest in Stetson hats and other Western wear. (Photo/Getty Images)

When Beyoncé puts on a Stetson hat, she brings megastar appeal to an iconic brand. 

The pop diva showed up at the Grammy Awards in a Stetson hat in February and wears one for the cover of her latest album, Cowboy Carter, riding astride a white horse and carrying an American flag.

The album debuted at No. 1, making her the first black woman to lead Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and also the first to top the Hot Country Songs chart with her hit single, Texas Hold ‘Em.

Beyoncé is attracting a new audience to Stetson hats, according to media reports. She also is rekindling interest in the man behind the hat, John B. Stetson, a noted philanthropist whose generosity, entrepreneurial spirit and personal integrity shaped the small private university that bears his name.

John B. statue at Stetson University

The inventor of the cowboy hat, Stetson contributed money for new dorms, an academic building, laboratories and other expenses at the university, which changed its named to John B. Stetson University in his honor in 1889. He served as president of the Board of Trustees and frequently spent time on campus when he visited his winter estate in DeLand.

Stetson University is one of the oldest colleges in Florida and started the state’s first law school and its first school of business. Today, the university offers nationally ranked academic programs, including Stetson College of Law, which was named No. 1 in the nation in Trial Advocacy and No. 3 in Legal Writing by U.S. News & World Report.

Students in Holler Fountain

The university’s storied past remains alive on the historic campus, filled with red brick buildings, fountains and live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Named one of the most beautiful college campuses in the South, the university emphasizes a relationship-rich education with small class sizes, close working relationships with top-notch faculty, and a vibrant and diverse campus. Its 18 sports teams compete as the “Hatters” in robust NCAA Division I athletics.

Actor Tom Hanks tries on a Stetson Hat while other watch.
Actor Tom Hanks receives a Stetson hat from then-University President Doug Lee while on campus filming some shots for his documentary, “From the Earth to the Moon,” in 1997.

Stetson hats have been an enduring image on campus for many years. Each spring, some graduates wear the hats to Commencement and toss them in the air at the close of the ceremony. Students also wear Stetson hats when they win national competitions, and they can find a variety of styles for sale in the campus bookstore.

Photos fill the university’s archives, showing students, faculty, staff and alumni wearing Stetson hats, dating back to the late 1800s. Other photos show famous people receiving Stetson hats when they visited campus, including South African Archbishop and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, actor Tom Hanks and former President Jimmy Carter.

With her love of Stetson hats, Queen Bey would fit right in the Hatter Nation.