Lance Armstrong’s prospects looked bleak when he admitted to Oprah Winfrey in 2013 that he cheated to win his Tour de France titles, putting the brakes on a career that made him more than $200m and deepening his legal troubles.
An investment in a venture capital fund that bought into Uber Technologies has proved to be a lifeline for the disgraced cyclist. The 47-year-old told CNBC on Thursday that the investment had been “too good to be true”, and “saved our family”.
The interview sparked reports that Armstrong could be sitting on a 10-figure stake in the startup.
The reality is more peloton than breakaway.
His $100 000 investment has made him about $20m, according to calculations by Bloomberg.
Armstrong in 2009 invested $100 000 in Chris Sacca’s newly started Lowercase Capital, CNBC reported. One of the firm’s bets was on the ride-hailing startup that was then valued at $3.7m. Uber may go public next year at a valuation of as much as $120bn, bankers at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have estimated.
The Lowercase fund has returned between 250 times and 300 times, according to a person familiar with its performance. That means Armstrong’s investment would be worth as much as $30m at the top of that range. After deducting for fees, he’s probably cleared about $20m.
“I invested in Chris Sacca,” Armstrong said in the interview. “I didn’t even know he did Uber.”
An Armstrong representative didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. An Uber spokesman declined to comment.
Armstrong, who set records by winning the Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005, was stripped of the titles in August 2012. He admitted in a January 2013 television interview with Winfrey that he’d used a “cocktail” of testosterone, erythropoietin and blood transfusions throughout his career.