Lance Armstrong seems to have made himself scandal proof. Advertisers will stick with him as long as the public does, and they don't seem to care about the latest round of cheating accusations. Sure, there's a Federal investigation -- but given the public's devotion to the man, it's doubtful that even the prospect of jail time can stop the deals.
The public is yawning at a 60 Minutes story about yet another former teammate saying Lance was juiced out of his mind. (Maybe Tropicana will be interested in him?) And if vox populus is yawning, vox corpus is ecstatic. While Nike put out a boilerplate statement, Anheuser-Bush didn't equivocate in the least:
Lance has performed as an extraordinary athlete in a demanding sport, making him admired by millions who lead active lifestyles. That was our opinion when we signed him and that is our opinion today.Popular opinion is pretty easy to gauge with Armstrong because people are voting with their wallets. Despite all the accusations, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has continued to rake in money. It made $30 million in 2008, the $40 million 2009 and is expected to pass $50 million this year. All as the American Cancer Society was seeing donations fall because of the struggling economy. Barry Bonds must be wishing he could have some of whatever Armstrong has been using.
The envelope has been stretched pretty far when it comes to getting thrown under the bus by advertisers. Now a scandal really has to go against the brand values the athlete has created. Tiger Woods' image as an in-control Master of The Universe fell apart faster than the windows on his SUV. On the other hand, Wrangler thinks Bret Favre sending pictures of his privates to a woman who wasn't interested fits right in the image of good-old-boy durability.
Lance Armstrong is the inspiring cancer survivor who got people to wear irritating rubber bracelets and showed up the French at their own sport. You really think Americans are going to care if he cheated while he did it?
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