On Sept. 14, 2023, the SpaceX Fanclub Facebook page posted a headline that reported former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines had filed a $2 million lawsuit against transgender athlete Lia Thomas.
As of this writing, the post had received more than 87,000 likes, 9,100 comments, and 2,800 shares.
Below the post, the pinned comment contained a link to an article that was originally published months earlier on April 11. That story began as follows:
In a shocking turn of events, former swimmer Riley Gaines has filed a $2 million lawsuit against fellow athlete Lia Thomas, claiming that Thomas "took everything" from her.
The lawsuit alleges that Thomas, who is transgender and has been making waves in the swimming world, unfairly dominated the competition and left Gaines in the dust.
According to Gaines, she was once a promising swimmer with dreams of Olympic glory. However, all of that changed when Thomas came onto the scene.
Gaines claims that Thomas's transgender identity gave her an unfair advantage over other swimmers and that she was able to beat Gaines even though Gaines had trained harder and was a better swimmer overall.
"She just came in and took over," Gaines said in a tearful interview with reporters. "I worked so hard for so many years, and then Lia Thomas comes along and takes everything from me. It's not fair."
However, the truth was that Gaines had not, in fact, filed a lawsuit against Thomas. The article originated with a website that describes its output as containing "satire, parody, and humor."
This rumor bore similarities to at least two previous online articles. For example, we once reported about a rumor that suggested Gaines had settled a lawsuit with Thomas for $1.2 million. That claim also came from a website that says it publishes satirical content. A second claim also coming from a website that describes its output as satirical in nature said that Gaines and Thomas had settled a lawsuit for $5 million. Needless to say, none of this was true.
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.