If there was one thing Lance Armstrong could conjure up to make himself an even more controversial character, it was to enter the NFT space.
NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, are units of digital data stored on blockchains. In plain English, they can be anything from a photo, video, or piece of audio, with a permanent record of ownership stored digitally, and although they've been around since 2014 their popularity skyrocketed in 2021.
Armstrong isn't the first cyclist to get involved. NFTs depicting Wout van Aert's biggest victories sold for a total of €47,000, while Colnago became the first bike brand to auction off a C64 FT bike that sold for $8,592, $2,300 more than the actual model of the bike.
Armstrong has acquired an NFT from Apex Optimizers, who claim to be the first NFT project focused on health optimisation, which seems to entail a combination of purchasing one of 888 images of multi-coloured leopards (not cheetahs, as some funny people on the internet have joked) and subsequently unlocking "$600,000+ worth of benefits including access to top athletes and founders, multi-brand discounts and early product drops, and virtual and IRL wellness experiences".
I finally feel like one of the cool kids. Got into the #NFT game. Thanks @apexoptimizers!! Vest game on point as well. pic.twitter.com/PGbncPDSs7January 28, 2022
"I finally feel like one of the cool kids. Got into the #NFT game," Armstrong tweeted alongside an image of his NFT, a leopard wearing a crown on a yellow background, a more subtle hint than the infamous image of him lying on the sofa below seven framed yellow jerseys. "Vest game on point as well," he added.
"I think doping might actually be marginally more popular with the public than NFTs Lance," one person replied, with others saving the image and re-uploading, telling Armstrong he should have used the "buy zero get four free" option like them.
It appears Armstrong didn't purchase his NFT and it was instead transferred to him by Apex Optimizers, according to transaction records, presumably with some deal in place where free promotion is exchanged for jpeg images.
At the moment, it doesn't appear the project will be as lucrative for Armstrong as his early Uber investment, with only three leopard images sold in the last week for an average of $197 each.
"Welcoming accomplished athlete to the AO family," Apex Optimizers tweeted. "Further bringing the conversation of the importance of health and wellness to the metaverse," accompanied by a rocket ship emoji that will presumably be taking Armstrong and his fellow leopard brethren to the moon.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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