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January 18, 2022

What Lance Armstrong has lost

If you were one of the many that watched Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah last night, you no doubt caught the teaser for tonight's part two of the Q&A.

In it, the duo hinted at the many sponsors that had dropped Armstrong after his doping allegations grew too loud to ignore. In the clip, Armstrong called it a "$75 million day."

That figure has yet to be confirmed, so in the meantime we're left to pick up the pieces of the disgraced cyclist's sponsorship history.

And when we're judging Armstrong's last few months, from an endorsement perspective, at least, it appears only Tiger Woods had it worse.

Allegations about Armstrong's doping, of course, are more than a decade old, having popped up not long after he won the first of his seven Tour de France titles in 1999.

*Bing: Who is the world's highest-paid athlete?

But the Texan famously never tested positive -- creative drug use schedules and even, at one point, a backdated doctor's prescription to wriggle free from the one time he was caught -- maintained his status as a Madison Ave. darling.

He had beaten cancer. Dated Sheryl Crow. The guy was worth the millions.

Late last year, however, the case for his drug use became too strong to keep refuting, and he was systematically dropped by the bulk of his sponsors.

Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Oakley and Trek were among the names to drop him. At the time, it was thought he'd lost some $30 million.

Tonight, Armstrong himself may reveal that figure to be higher (ironically, while Armstrong confesses his financial follies, ad space for the much-hyped Oprah interview sold at a 40-50 per cent higher clip than normal).

What he may not address, however, is whether he'll have to repay any of that sponsorship money. That will be a complicated legal issue some feel won't ultimately pry a dime from Armstrong's pockets, despite reports that he's considered returning some cash.

In the end, Armstrong is likely to keep the $100 million-plus fortune he's reported to have, but his future earnings will no doubt take a hit. In addition to his "$75 million day," some feel his doping scandal and subsequent confession will cost him tens of millions in future endorsements, appearance fees and speaking engagements.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...