Wednesday, August 24, 2016

OLYMPIAN LOCHTE Loses Sponsors Over Big Lie in RIO

The story of American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is a pointed example of what could happen when a person goes on a drunken spree of unruly behavior, and then spins a story when sober of being the victim instead.

As USA Today tells it, all began on Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Summer Olympics. On the morning of Sunday August 14, Lochte and several of his swimming teammates were out in the town after completing their swimming events when a certain incident took place. When Lochte and Jimmy Feigen first told it, they alleged that their group was in a taxi when four men forced them out at gunpoint and robbed them, with Lochte embellishing on another interview that the men were carrying police badges. These allegations were a major source of consternation for Rio, which was already

beleaguered outside of the Olympic venues by anti-Games protesters, rampant crime and the Zika virus outbreak.

Two days later on August 16 with Lochte back in the United States, his other teammates were held at Rio for questioning on the incident. Slowly but surely an alternate account emerged in investigations, one substantiated with video footage. The four Americans had been at a gas station in Barra de Tijuca, where the intoxicated Lochte engaged in some vandalism of the station’s bathroom, breaking a soap dispenser and a “Do not Disturb” sign, damaging the door and urinating on the floor.

They were accosted by security and had to pay cash in Brazilian reais and US dollars to compensate for the destruction. The held teammates disproved Lochte’s story under questioning. Rio police then charged Lochte in absentia of false testimony.

That was a black eye not just for Lochte but for Team USA as a whole, and the abashed swimmer posted an apology for his behavior on Instagram, claiming that he “over-exaggerated”. But it was too late. Public opinion and fan adoration quickly soured at the onset of “Lochte-gate”, and Lochte’s corporate sponsors: Speedo, Gentle Hair Removal, Airweave and Ralph Lauren quickly dropped him like a hot potato. With his endorsements gone, the 12-time Olympic medalist is looking at a loss of about $1 million, and a ruined reputation on top of it.

“While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone the behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” chimed a statement by Speedo USA. They added that $50,000 out of Lochte’s endorsement fee will be donated instead to Brazil’s Save the Children fund. Columbia University professor and sports marketing specialist Joe Favorito remarked that Lochte violated the celebrity rule of “Do not lie”. “We live in a world where everything is going to be exposed,” he says. “Brands are always looking for honest and authentic representatives because there’s so much competition. There are so many Olympic athletes who you can choose from. You don’t need any nonsense.”

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