Technically, Olympic athletes are amateurs, which is where endorsements come in. An Olympic champion who captures the hearts and minds of millions can then earn millions by appearing in commercials and on Wheaties boxes (or Special K, whatever), and when an Olympian falls from grace, their earning potential drops, too.
That’s what’s happening to U.S. swimmer, 12-time Olympic medalist, and 30 Rock’s favorite “sex idiot” Ryan Lochte, who’s transformed from American hero to American punching bag after it was revealed that he and his teammates weren’t actually held at gunpoint by armed robbers in Rio. Olympics broadcaster NBC has already punished Lochte for the lie by making him explain himself to Matt Lauer, but now one of Lochte’s many sponsors is hitting him where it really hurts—in his Speedo contract:
Lochte’s still got (for now, anyway) an endorsement deal with Ralph Lauren that NBC News reports is worth up to $1.8 million, along with deals with companies like Gillette, Gatorade, Mutual of Omaha, Nissan, AT&T, and Procter and Gamble that are worth an undisclosed—but presumably quite large—amount.
UPDATE: Looks like the mass sponsorship exodus has begun, as Variety reports that the aforementioned Ralph Lauren has joined Speedo in kicking Lochte to the curb. “Ralph Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody,” the company says in a statement. “Ralph Lauren’s endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract.”