WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (UPI) — Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren both announced Monday they are dropping their sponsorship deals with U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte following his statement over the weekend that he “over-exaggerated” what happened in Rio de Janeiro.
After saying for several days that the taxi they were riding in on the way home from a party was pulled over and that they were robbed at gunpoint, Lochte on Saturday said he had “over-exaggerated” and apologized for his behavior that overshadowed the final days of the Olympic Games. He said he takes “full responsibility” for three swimmers — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — and himself vandalizing a gas station on Aug. 14 after a night of partying.
Surveillance video shows the swimmers going behind the gas station, coming back out, and then getting into the taxi as a guard approaches. Another shows them out of the car, sitting on the ground with their hands on their heads. One of the guards admitted that he had drawn his gun on the swimmers. They were released after paying a $50 fine for pulling down a sign.
Lochte and the other swimmers could be stripped of their gold medals. Speedo USA dropped Lochte on Monday.
“Speedo USA today announces the decision to end its sponsorship of Ryan Lochte. As part of this decision, Speedo USA will donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte’s fee to Save the Children, a global charity partner of Speedo USA’s parent company, for children in Brazil,” Speedo USA said in a statement. “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 behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for. We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.”
Ralph Lauren has taken Ryan Lochte’s name off its Olympic endorsers page, and told ESPN on Monday that it will not renew its sponsorship deal with Lochte.
Lochte has two remaining endorsement deals — with Gentle Hair Removal and Airweave, a Japanese mattress maker. Airweave has pledged to stand by Lochte.