When Lance Armstrong admitted to doping five years ago, his sponsors were understandably unhappy. None more so than the United States Postal Service, which paid Armstrong more than $30 million over the course of their six-year sponsorship agreement. USPS sued Armstrong, claiming he had violated the contract and unjustly enriched himself, and the government was seeking triple damages -- somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million.
Fortunately for the disgraced cyclist, he was able to settle those claims this week for $5 million, mere pennies on the sponsorship dollar.
Tour de Force Lawsuit
One of Armstrong's main contentions against USPS in the lawsuit was over damages. The seven-time Tour de France champion claimed the Postal Service made far more off their sponsorship than any amount they paid him, and that his doping revelations didn't harm them at all. But the lawsuit hinged not so much on sponsorship money alone, but Armstrong's involvement of teammates, especially Floyd Landis.
As Deadspin broke down:
Armstrong rode for the USPS from 1999 to 2004, and he was paid $32.4 million during that time. Landis filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Armstrong during Armstrong's final season in 2010, and the suit alleged that because Armstrong took illegal performance enhancing drugs--and forced his teammates to join him in doing so, and lied about it--he had technically violated his contract. Because Armstrong was a United States contractor, this meant he was being accused of defrauding the government. The False Claims Act states that the government is eligible to receive treble damages (up to $97.2 million in this case), with up to 25 percent allocated to the whistleblower who brought the case to the government.
Dollars and Sense
Armstrong has already paid an estimated $36 million in legal fees fighting this and other lawsuits since his doping admission. Despite the legal and reputational hit, Armstrong's finances appear to be in good order, according to Sports Illustrated, who reports the former champion's net worth remains in the millions based on an investment portfolio, real estate, and business assets.
This is the last major litigation to be hanging over Armstrong, so he is free to return to his podcast, just like the rest of us.