No, right-wing activist Riley Gaines hasn’t just won $10m from Whoopi Goldberg

Riley Gaines (left) and Whoopi Goldberg (right)

Stories that former college swimmer turned right-wing activist Riley Gaines has won a $10 million (approximately £8 million) payout from Whoopi Goldberg have been more than a little exaggerated.

Posts on Twitter and TikTok claimed Gaines had won a defamation lawsuit against The View co-host, with users saying they were “glad” the swimmer had finally got justice.

Riley Gaines is among 16 sportswomen currently suing athletics regulator the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) over its inclusion of transgender people.

The Whoopi Goldberg claim originated in a story published by satirical website SpaceXMania, which said: “Riley Gaines, a name now synonymous with legal victory, has ascended the proverbial podium once again.

“This time, she is not just basking in the ethereal glow of athletic accomplishment but is swathed in the vindication that comes from a triumph of a different sort: a whopping $10 million defamation lawsuit win against Whoopi Goldberg.”

The website put a “satire” label above the headline and describes its output as humorous and “often entirely made up”.

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It goes on to say: “We make no claim that the information presented in these articles is true or accurate.”

However, that didn’t stop the rumour from being spread on social media as right-wing and conservative supporters used it as evidence of Gaines’ triumph over liberal-leaning Goldberg.

After the article was first published in October, Gaines announced that it was false. “As much as I would love for this to be true, it’s simply not. Who makes this stuff up?” she wrote on X/Twitter. The claim resurfaced again on 26 April 2024.

Whoopi Goldberg has stood up for LGBTQ+ people and rights in the past, supporting transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney during an intense backlash to her appearing in a sponsored post for Bud Light last year. Also, during an acceptance speech for a GLAAD Media Award in 2017, she advised people not to listen to those trying to roll back trans rights.

More recently, the Color Purple and Ghost star warned that gay people could “disappear” under another Trump presidency.

“I’m here to say, it is ours to lose. This is what it’s all about. Either you want everybody to have the ability to say how they feel, what they want, to move forward, or you don’t.

“Do you want somebody who says [they are] going to be a dictator, who tells you, [they’re] going to take all the journalists, all the gay folks, and move you all around and disappear you?” she asked.

During Whoopi Goldberg’s appearance on iHeartMedia’s The Best Podcast Ever with Raven and Miranda, American actress and singer Raven-Symoné told Goldberg that she has “lesbian vibes”.

Goldberg replied: “I am not a lesbian but I know lots of them, and I’ve played them on television. I have always had lesbian friends because they’re just my friends.”