NewsSpeedo Just Cut Ties With Ryan Lochte in the Most Satisfyingly Shady Way Possible
It's pretty dark out here right now.
It's one of the oldest stories in the world, really: Athlete stuns the world with uplifting feats of superhuman strength, then acquires lucrative endorsement deals with the companies that make his gear. Then the athlete does something embarrassing (something more embarrassing than turning an utterance like "jeah" into a catchphrase), lies about it, gets caught lying about it, and ends up losing the contract that made him a millionaire in the first place.
So it is with Ryan Lochte, the ur-bro of Team USA's aquatics department, and Speedo, the maker of the banana hammocks and laser-cut swimming costumes that have kept our Olympic swimmers and divers looking sharp and moving fast in the water. On Monday morning, the company announced that it would end its relationship with Lochte after he ensnared himself in a web of lies about a drunken pissing contest at a gas station in Brazil. The company is also donating a decent chunk of his earnings to Save the Children. (Ralph Lauren, another sponsor, has made no such statement but has quietly erased Lochte's images from its website. Airweave, a Japanese mattress firm, has said it will stand by the gold-medal swimmer.)
For a contract like this to be snatched out of an athlete's hands adds a sufficient amount of insult to a whole lot of injury, so when this has happened in the past, brands that have severed ties with their fallen stars have usually cut the cord and left it at that. But for Speedo to make such a sizable donation to a children's charity is telling. It's a winking reminder that Lochte is a professional athlete and 32-year-old human adult—not a kid who just came to Brazil "to have fun," as International Olympic Committee spokesman Mario Andrada said in an eye-roll inducing attempt to smooth over this mess—and that far better conduct is expected of him. It may take an (Olympic) village to raise a child, but it only takes one press release to put a grown man in his place.