Did Lance Armstrong do it knowingly? Will he destroy the evidence? Will we ever know the truth?
No, we’re not talking doping allegations, but rather, an odd, seemingly accidental tweet that came from the cyclist and triathlete’s Twitter Thursday afternoon.
Hey – you bet. Happy to help. Call my cell 778 384 7520. Take care, L
— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) September 13, 2012
Looked like a typical DM-gone-wrong: As tweets go, worse than something less specific (“meet me in the bar at 7”), but not as bad as pulling an Anthony Wiener (no pun intended).
But even so, the area code didn’t make much sense—it was neither 512, nor anything in Central Texas or the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Also, even as the tweet inspired a thousand screenshots, it remained on the account, piling up (as of early Friday morning) nearly 3,000 retweets, and more than 1,000 favorites.
In fact, 778 is in Vancouver, British Columbia, as Barry Petchesky of Deadspin found out when he became one of the many folks to call the number.
And what Petchesky found was strange. He wrote:
So we called [the number], not expecting him to pick up (since hundreds of other people are likely calling simultaneously), but at the least to see what his voicemail sounds like. It wasn’t his voicemail.
It was the voicemail of one Tyson Laidler, who a quick search reveals to be a recent graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. (The 778 area code is a BC exchange.) But wait. A tipster points out that the exact same phone number was tweeted in July, by one Ty Laidler. And this Ty Laidler claims to be a member of the Canadian Air Force. (He’s also a gem; he thinks “Toronto dance floors smell like immigrant” and told Tim Tebow he hopes he gets paralyzed.)
Are there two Tyson Laidlers? Is one of them Lance Armstrong? What is going on here?
The tweet that Deadspin linked to was deleted soon after Petchesky’s post. And by the time Stephanie Ip of The Province (hometown newspaper for that area code) filed her story, the number had been disconnected.
But Ip still had more information:
While Deadspin found an Emily Carr University student identified as Tyson Laidler via Facebook, the Province found a Ty Laidler who hailed from Coquitlam and now resides in Kingston, Ontario. It’s believed the Twitter account in question is linked to the Coquitlam Laidler — both the Facebook and Twitter account have links to MMA pages and events.
The Coquitlam Laidler has not responded to the Province’s request for an interview. It’s unclear whether the man is known to Armstrong or if the original tweet by the famous cyclist was, in fact, a prank.
More importantly, as both Ip and Connor Simpson of The Atlantic noted, Armstrong followed it around four hours later with this:
— Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) September 14, 2012
Then he tweeted again about hosting a fundraiser for the Ann Richards school.
“Does this mean Armstrong was in on it?” Simpson wondered. “An elaborate wedding prank, perhaps? Or does someone else have access to Armstrong’s account and they’re operating simultaneously?”
Simpson clearly doesn’t know (whose wedding?), and neither do we. But if it is a joke, or some kind of set-up for a fundraiser or marketing campaign, we’re bound to find out eventually. Perhaps even this morning.
Of course, some people on Twitter had their own theories.
The Fight Club scenario:
— sonofabike (@sonofabike) September 13, 2012
And the, “this is all about Lance Armstrong’s ego” theory:
@ermsquirrelMakes me laugh how in love w/ himself he is.
— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) September 14, 2012
Also, who says “Psych!” in 2012? Not!