A story circling the Internet concerning Jeff Gordon and Stephen Rhodes' romantic relationship has been confirmed as false.
Satirical sports news site Empire Sports posted the article "Jeff Gordon and Stephen Rhodes Confirm Homosexual Relationship; NASCAR Fans Outraged" on Monday, inciting a whirlwind of Internet hysteria.
"So now what, NASCAR fans are gonna say gays shouldn't be allowed to drive?" one Twitter user wrote.
"#JeffGordon came out of the closet!" another Tweeted. "I respect anyone who stays true to themselves but I'm appalled."
In the article, Empire Sports reporters wrote that Gordon "joins a list of male athletes who are new to the openly gay sports world," after he purportedly admitted to having a romantic relationship with Rhodes, NASCAR's first openly gay driver to compete in the national touring series in 2003.
"We are unable to get a comment from Gordon or Rhodes on this news of their relationship, but it is 100 percent confirmed by both," the article read. "Both men have been seen around together since they came out just recently. The couple has been seen hand in hand, but not much else in the public eye."
Jeff Gordon is currently married to his wife of eight years, Ingrid Vandebosch.
The story went viral, with thousands of Facebook and Twitter users sharing and re-posting the alleged news.
This isn't the first time Empire Sports' fake stories have tricked readers - one of the site's articles claimed that former NBA star Gilbert Arenas fought with George Zimmerman at a gun show in Orlando, Fla.
The story stated Arenas was arrested after having a "brief altercation" with George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Fla., resident who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
Empire Sports describes itself as a "satirical and entertainment website" on its homepage.
— David Covert (@davidjcovert) March 26, 2014
#JeffGordon came out the closet! I respect anyone who stays true to themselves but I'm appalled