Saying ‘sorry’ isn’t enough.
Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s drunken and reckless behavior at the end of the Rio Games is having some costly consequences.
All four of his major sponsors have ended his contracts, after the 12-time Olympic medalist apparently got drunk at a Rio gas station, damaged property, and then made up a story about being mugged by armed robbers.
Speedo was the first to drop Lochte’s contract, saying in a statement, “we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.” They said they would donate part of Lochte’s sponsorship fee to the Brazilian chapter of Save the Children, one of their global charity partners.
Luxury retailer Ralph Lauren pulled out next, followed by Syneron Candela – a hair removal company – and Japanese mattress manufacturer Airweave. Initially, Airweave had vowed to stand behind Lochte as their global brand ambassador, but apparently they changed their mind as the story unraveled.
Lochte has apologized for the incident, in which he and three of his Olympic teammates allegedly trashed a gas station bathroom and otherwise caused a scene, urinating outside the station and damaging property. After the owner of the station demanded they pay for damages, accompanied by armed security guards, Lochte claimed he’d been robbed at gunpoint. Brazilian authorities detained several of the athletes for questioning before allowing them to return home to the US.
The US Olympic Committee issued an apology for the team’s behavior last week, saying it was “not acceptable,” but Lochte’s apology stopped short of taking full responsibility for the embarrassing episode. “I wasn’t lying to a certain extent. I over-exaggerated what was happening to me.” Later, he admitted on a Today show interview that his “immature, intoxicted behavior” tarnished the 2016 Games.
Besides being publicly shamed, Lochte will now be paying for his mistake in the form of millions of dollars worth of lost revenue from the sponsorships. But, perhaps because of the color of his skin, Lochte will not face jail time or other punishment for his criminal behavior.
Image via Mitch Gunn / Shutterstock.com.
Comment: Do you think Lochte should receive harsher consequences than just losing his sponsorships?