US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte dumped by four major sponsors after 'exaggerated' story
US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte lost all four of his major sponsors yesterday, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, following his apology for an "exaggerated" story about being robbed at gunpoint at the Rio Games.
Lochte's version of the incident embarrassed the host city, angered local officials and further revelations about it - casting doubt on Lochte's story - dominated news coverage of South America's first Olympics.
The US Olympic Committee issued an apology on Friday and the 12-time Olympic medallist made his own apology on Sunday in an interview with Brazil's largest broadcaster, Globo TV.
"I wasn't lying to a certain extent," he said. "I over-exaggerated what was happening to me."
Within hours of the Games coming to a close on Monday morning (Singapore time), swimwear maker Speedo USA issued a statement saying it would drop Lochte as one of its endorsers, while luxury retailer Ralph Lauren said it would not be renewing its contract with the swimmer.
Hair removal company Syneron Candela also ended its partnership with Lochte, four months after naming him as its global brand ambassador for one of its products.
Japanese mattress maker Airweave, which last week had said it would stand by the 32-year-old, yesterday said it had decided it would not renew the endorsement, which had been made for the Rio Games.
Sponsorship and endorsement deals typically include "morals clauses" that allow sponsors to terminate deals early if they feel the athlete has behaved poorly in public.
Nottingham, UK-based Speedo's US unit, said it would donate US$50,000 ($67,400) of Lochte's fee to Save The Children, a global charity partner of Speedo.
The swimmer said in an e-mail that he respected Speedo's decision.
"I was immature and I made a stupid mistake," he said in an interview on the Today show.
"I made a mistake and I definitely learnt from this.
"They (the people of Rio) put on a great Games... And my immature, intoxicated behaviour tarnished that a little."
Ralph Lauren had taken down references to the gold medallist from its website last week, and it said yesterday that it would not renew the Olympic-specific deal - which featured Lochte and other Olympic athletes wearing Ralph Lauren-branded Olympic merchandise.
"We are transitioning out all Olympic visuals as the Games ended yesterday, and we are moving into our fall fashion message," Macy's spokeswoman Holly Thomas said in an e-mail.
Lochte won one gold in Brazil.
He was the breakout star of the 2012 London Olympics, landing a short-lived reality TV series called "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" and appeared, as himself, on major TV shows such as "30 Rock" and "90210". - Reuters.