Cycling and doping have been the married couple at family reunions that makes everyone wonder, "What the hell?" And then came Lance.
As hard as it is to believe a popular sport can be defined by a man's name (see: Basketball and Jordan), Lance Armstrong proved you can be a champion, have a compelling story and still be clean. There have been ne'er-do-wells, but all of them had questionable histories and blemished bios. So, I'm watching TV and flipped the channel to 60 Minutes to watch the Scott Pelley coming out party, and my smartphone blew up in my hand. After I put out the fire, I picked up my smoldering Otter Box to discover the flammable device was Twitter. It was ablaze with Lance Armstrong tweets responding to the alleged news that he actually cheated. Like, someone had proof even.
For a day, articles duplicated like military rabbits on a weekend pass on Google. Everyone wanted to write about the story and opine freely. And then came Lance. Again.
20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case.
The tweet silenced an entire nation. Never mind the report that he actually failed one test. Forget the FedEx packages of EPO he supposedly sent teammates. And pay no attention to his longtime friend George Hincapie, who allegedly testified under oath that Armstrong used PEDs. While national news outlets were mortgaging in their studios for enough money to get Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton on the same set, Twitter took Lance's messages viral faster than that pig could give you the flu.
His 2.8 million followers retweeted the Pied Piper's words instantly, and so on, and so on. According to a lovely article in the International Business Times, Twitter was Lance's #boomstick:
Here are the Numbers (rounded):
Lance Armstrong - 2,800,000 followers.
60 Minutes - 34,000 followers
CBS Evening News - 8,000 followers
Floyd Landis - 4,000 followers
Tyler Hamilton - 3,000 followers
Jeff Fager - 0 followers
That is 2.8 million compared to a combined 49,000.
Add to that Scott Pelley's amassed 239 followers, and well, you get the idea.
That's better than any wire release we flacks can buy our clients. Lance definitely tweeted strong. In fact, I think the only missing element of Lance's tweet was the hashtag followed by "Suck It." Regardless, now the real drama will unfold: How much trust and adoration did those $1 plastic, Tweety-bird yellow bracelets buy? We'll soon find out... and Twitter will be watching.