Wealthy Benefactor Lionizes Duke Lacrosse Team with Newspaper Ads.

03/28/2008 02:44 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Oklahoman today revealed the identity of the person behind several full-page advertisements that appeared in East Coast newspapers praising the Duke University Men's Lacrosse team in the wake of their loss to Johns Hopkins University in the NCAA national championship game, and, unsurprisingly, it was neither Al Sharpton nor Nancy Grace (Still waiting, you two!). The benefactor was, in fact, Aubrey McClendon, the chairman, founder and CEO of the Chesapeake Energy Corporation. A Duke alumnus, whose own son rooms with a member of the lacrosse team, McClendon was moved to act after seeing a similar advertisement in the USA Today, funded by another alum.

The ads, which ran in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Washington Post, among others, complimented the team for "standing tall during extraordinarily difficult circumstances over the past 15 months." The total cost to McClendon? A cool $400,000. McClendon, who submitted the advertisements under the name "The Duke Lacrosse Booster Club of Oklahoma City," said of the team, "I knew these young men, and from the minute it happened I knew that they didn't do it...I knew that the truth would come out in time, and when it did I wanted to celebrate for these young men publicly their achievements on the field and off the field this year."

Conversely, the players from the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team have been left to take solace in their championship trophy and the fact that they have never been plausibly linked to a criminal investigation.

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McClendon says he's behind Duke ads [The Oklahoman]