Leading sponsors ditch US gold medal winner after Rio incident

Leading sponsors ditch US gold medal winner after Rio incident | Insurance Business America

Leading sponsors ditch US gold medal winner after Rio incident
Eben Novy-Williams and Stephanie Wong

Speedo USA severed its sponsorship of U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte after he admitted to making up a story about being robbed at gunpoint while in Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Ralph Lauren also said it would not renew his contract.

A subsidiary of U.K.-based Pentland Brands Limited, Speedo announced it would donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte’s pay to a charity that works with poor children in Brazil. Lochte, 32, had been with the company for over a decade.

“We cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” Speedo said in a statement. “We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.”

Lochte, who has said he aspires to be a fashion designer, was one of the most visible spokesmen for Ralph Lauren during the lead-up to the games. The company, which designs the outfits worn by U.S. athletes during the opening and closing ceremonies, said Monday that the endorsement was specifically for the 2016 Olympics, and would not be renewed.

Lochte originally said that he and three Team USA teammates were pulled over in a cab and robbed at gunpoint by men posing as Brazilian police. Officials later revealed that the early Saturday-morning incident was quite different: Lochte and some of his teammates vandalized a gas station, urinated on the premises, then paid for the damages when confronted by armed guards.

Lochte has apologized for his behavior and for exaggerating parts of the story. He also said he was drunk when he originally recounted the experience on NBC.

Lochte had about $1 million in endorsements at the time of the incident, ESPN reported citing unnamed industry experts. At least one partner, Japanese mattress-maker Airweave has stood by him, though a photo of Lochte was removed from the company homepage.

Lochte won a relay gold in Rio, his 12th Olympic medal. Speedo remains a sponsor of the USA Swimming.

Copyright 2016 Bloomberg