Fact Check

Riley Gaines Settled a Lawsuit Against Swimmer Lia Thomas for $1.2M?

Former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines has criticized an NCAA decision that allowed Thomas, who is transgender, to compete with her.

Published Aug 16, 2023

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Image Via Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Former collegiate swimmers Riley Gaines and Lia Thomas settled a lawsuit with an agreement that awards Gaines $1.2 million.

On Aug. 15, 2023, The Dunning-Kruger Times published an article positing that former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines settled a lawsuit with former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas for $1.2 million.

Gaines is known for criticizing an NCAA decision that allowed Thomas, who is transgender, to compete against Gaines in a women's championship race, as The Associated Press reported.

The Dunning-Kruger Times' article began as follows:

Riley Gaines Settles Civil Suit Against Lia Thomas for $1.2 Million

Riley Gaines was cheated out of one of the greatest moments of her life by a swimmer with a clear advantage. It cost her more than just a national championship; it also cost her a spot on the women's national team.

The NCAA had nothing to say about it, so Riley did what she had to and got a lawyer. After more than a year, it finally paid off. Gaines settles out of court with Thomas for $1.2 million.

However, this item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The Dunning-Kruger Times describes itself as being "a subsidiary of the America's Last Line of Defense network of parody, satire, and tomfoolery."

A search of Facebook for the article's headline showed that it was being shared by users who appeared to believe it was a real news story. For example, the article was shared in the Friends of Conservatism and America First Facebook group, where multiple commenters reacted as if Gaines truly had settled a lawsuit with Thomas.

Under another post with the article, someone commented: "Wasn't a big enough settlement. Riley deserved more money. Just think of the product endorsements she could have achieved when she was declared the winner. So wrong in so many ways. Stop the madness and the BS."

The Dunning-Kruger Times' "About Us" page says, "Everything on this website is fiction."

The website uses the term "taters" for people who supposedly believe the untrue stories, stating:

"Taters" are the conservative fans of America's Last Line of Defense. They are fragile, frightened, mostly older caucasian Americans. They believe nearly anything. While we go out of our way to educate them that not everything they agree with is true, they are still old, typically ignorant, and again — very afraid of everything.

Our mission is to do our best to show them the light, through shame if necessary, and to have a good time doing it, because…old and afraid or not, these people are responsible for the patriarchy we're railing so hard against. They don't understand logic and they couldn't care less about reason. Facts are irrelevant. BUT…they do understand shame.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


"Flagg Eagleton." "Riley Gaines Settles Civil Suit Against Lia Thomas for $1.2 Million." Dunning-Kruger-Times.com, 15 Aug. 2023, https://dunning-kruger-times.com/riley-gaines-settles-civil-suit-against-lia-thomas-for-1-2-million/.

Mikkelson, David. "Why We Include Humor and Satire in Snopes.com." Snopes, 15 Aug. 2019, https://www.snopes.com/notes/why-we-include-humor-and-satire-in-snopes-com/.

Murphy, Sean. "Transgender Rights Targeted in Executive Order Signed by Oklahoma Governor." The Associated Press, 1 Aug. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/transgender-rights-oklahoma-governor-67dc0c4a9d769066ccb1b9835c71449f.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.