If Lance Armstrong truly came clean and confessed to Oprah Winfrey in a two-part interview (part one to be aired tonight) that he used performance-enhancing drugs, will he really see a financial comeuppance?
I doubt it. Even if Armstrong has to return substantial funds to his sponsors and others, the famed cyclist who won seven Tour de France titles spent years reaping financial rewards from his cheating. At one time, Armstrong was so popular he could command $20 million a year in sponsorships, reported CNN. Armstrong’s titles have since been stripped, and he’s lost lucrative endorsement deals.
What does Armstrong have to gain from confessing?
Washington Post columnist Tracee Hamilton says his contrition is contrived to limit his liability. She writes: “He could have come clean immediately and helped his reputation; instead, he chose to ride at the head of a peloton of lawyers who calculated when he would — no, could — admit what he’d done without increasing his liability. That’s when he lost me completely.”
And there’s still the possibility that Armstrong will profit from his celebrity status. According to CNN, sources have said that Armstrong is negotiating to return some of the sponsorship money he received as captain of the U.S. Postal Service team during his career. Only those sponsors who paid for his actual athletic performance, like the Postal Service, as opposed to those who purchased his personal endorsement, are likely to be able to recoup sponsorship money, CNN reported.
“But even though he is permanently disgraced, he will retain the ability to make some money just by being Lance Armstrong, along with most of the more than $100 million or so in endorsements he’s already collected,” CNN said.
The celebrity Web site TMZ reported on Wednesday that Nike’s chief executive hinted that the company, which ended its contract with Armstrong, might want him back. When asked if Nike might patch things up, company CEO Phil Knight said, “Never say never,” TMZ reported.
A sports marketing expert told CNN that Armstrong will likely to be able to make money with a book deal and speaking and appearance fees.
“I am no longer interested in what Armstrong has to say,” Hamilton said. “Why would I watch two nights of television featuring a man who has consistently lied for years, and who is apologizing now to help his wallet and his career?”
For this week’s Color of Money Question: Will you buy into Armstrong’s career recovery by watching the Winfrey interview or shelling out money to see or read what he has to say? Send your responses to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name, city and state. Put “Lance Armstrong’s Confession” in the subject line.
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