Manti Te'o and Lance Armstrong, the subjects of recent major sports controversies, have now landed at the top of a dubious list: America's Most Disliked Athletes.
Released by Forbes, Te'0 and Armstrong each appeal to just 15% of the public to tie as the top disliked athlete, based on public surveys conducted by Nielsen Sports and E-Poll, a market research firm.
Te'o, the victim of an online "catfish" girlfriend hoax, later admitted perpetuating her fake story to national media, including the fact that she had not died on the same day as his grandmother during the 2012 Notre Dame season. According to Forbes, Te'0 enjoyed an 88% appeal before the BCS title game, only to see it drop to 15% "nearly overnight."
“The story was just so creepy,” Stephen Master, senior vice president of sports at Nielsen says. “And even when he knew he’d been duped he stuck with the story for awhile, and he’d told people he had met the woman in person.”
Armstrong, after years of denying and even suing those who accused him of using illegal doping and using performance-enhancing drugs, eventually admitted that he cheated while winning seven Tour de France titles. His admissions to Oprah Winfrey did not improve his profile among sports fans, many of whom found him to lack remorse.
“The Oprah interview hurt him, he came off as pompous, arrogant and unapologetic,” Master says.