Why did the USPS sponsor Lance Armstrong anyway?

CNN says: "The Justice Department late Tuesday formally filed its case against Lance Armstrong and his company Tailwind Sports for millions of dollars that the U.S. Postal Service spent to sponsor the cycling team. 'The USPS paid approximately $40 million to sponsor the USPS cycling team from 1998 to 2004,' the court document says."

I get the lawsuit, like, obvi. But what was the USPS doing throwing around $40 million (equivalent to approximately one forever stamp in about 20 years) to sponsor the national cycling team? Were the team members also delivering mail on their training runs?

That is the only way this makes sense, because you can't quite chalk this up to advertising expense as you would for a normal corporation. No one watches a cycling competition, sees a USPS logo, and  subsequently decides to mail thank you letters instead of email them. The post office is something you use if you need it, not really discretionary spending. In fact, I am not sure any federally funded organization needs to market itself, except to recruit employees. Most federally-affiliated anything is likely so because the goods/services produced tend to serve a basic/commodity need. Hence added marketing in attempt to drive higher volumes seems unnecessary. It'd be like advertising the police department or a court system to boost the number of crimes reported or lawsuits filed. However, for all I know, the government probably does fund this sort of advertising.

And I can think of at least one exception to my own generalization: I wouldn't mind seeing an advertisement for public libraries.

Anyway, all this suit does is highlight a foolish investment, in my view. As for the potential case, I don't know that the USPS should win this, even though Lance Armstrong is a lying sack of shit. It paid him to advertise, which he did at the time, and during a period when his popularity was probably at its peak. The current fallout certainly didn't affect postal business then, nor will it now, because ...ehh...I'll go ahead and call it what it appears to be: a pointless advertising campaign.

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