No guaranteed berth for activist who opposed transgender swimmers; that's satire | Fact check

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The claim: Activist Riley Gaines awarded $1.2 million, guaranteed berth in 2024 swimming championship

A Nov. 22 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) shows a photo of Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer and an outspoken opponent of transgender women participating in women's sports, displaying rings on two of her fingers.

“Riley Gaines settled with the NCAA for $1.2 million,” reads part of the post’s caption. It adds that an arbitrator ruled Gaines "will have a guaranteed spot waiting for her at the current season's finals.”

Many commenters took the post seriously.

“Congratulations!! Way to stand up not only for your sport but for women everywhere!!” wrote one.

“Amen. God is great an thank you for standing strong an up for all other young women for now an the future of women sports (sic),” wrote another.

The post was shared more than 20,000 times in six days.

More from the USA TODAY Fact Check Team:

Our rating: Satire

The post was published and shared by a satirical website. A footnote to the story linked in the comments states, “Nothing on this page is real.”

Claim originated on website where 'nothing' is real

Gaines, a former swimmer at the University of Kentucky, became a central figure in the ongoing debate about transgender athletes when she tied for fifth place with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in an event at the 2022 NCAA championship. Gaines criticized the organization’s decision to allow Thomas to compete against her and has become a vocal opponent of transgender women participating in women's sports.

But the claim that she is receiving more than $1 million – and an invitation to compete in the 2024 championship – in a settlement with the NCAA is false.

Fact check: Lia Thomas is still NCAA title holder; claim to the contrary started as satire

The post was shared by an account for America’s Last Line of Defense, a network of satirical websites. It contains a link to a longer story posted on The Dunning-Kruger Times, one of that network's websites.

“The answer to the satire question is always going to be yes,” Christopher Blair, who operates the website, previously told USA TODAY. “I don't publish the truth on any of the websites you'll find on ALLOD.”

The story includes a disclaimer at the bottom that reads, "Nothing on this page is real.” The site’s “About Us” section says, “Everything on this website is fiction.”

The account has made several satirical posts about Thomas and the transgender discussion, including one that claimed the U.S. national women’s volleyball team threatened to quit if Thomas had been allowed to try out and another that asserted the International Olympic Committee banned Thomas for life.

A closer look at the details of this post about Gaines reveals it to be a fabrication.

The photo in the post shows Gaines in her Kentucky swimsuit displaying the rings on her fingers. The heads of those rings bear images showing the ALLOD acronym. In the original photo taken in 2021, the university's logo is shown on at least one of those rings.

There is no credible evidence that Gaines has ever filed a lawsuit against the NCAA.

The assertion that Gaines was granted an automatic berth in the 2024 NCAA championships also is baseless. NCAA eligibility rules limit athletes to four seasons of competition. Gaines completed her fourth and final season at Kentucky in 2022, graduated from the university that year and is no longer on the Wildcats' roster. That leaves her ineligible to compete at the championship meet in March in Athens, Georgia.

USA TODAY reached out to Gaines for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Claim of NCAA swim final berth for Riley Gaines is satire | Fact check