BANGALORE, INDIA – Swimwear maker Speedo and luxury retailer Ralph Lauren Corp. ended their sponsorship contracts with Ryan Lochte, days after the U.S. swimmer admitted to exaggerating his story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio during the Olympics.
The incident embarrassed the host city, angered the local police and government and dominated news coverage of South America’s first Olympics, leading the U.S. Olympic Committee to issue an apology.
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, apologized on Saturday in an interview to 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, Speedo USA issued a statement saying it would drop Lochte as one of its endorsers, while 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 its global brand ambassador for one of its products.
Nottingham, U.K.-based Speedo’s U.S. unit said on Monday it would donate $50,000 of Lochte’s fee to Save The Children, a global charity partner of Speedo.
Lochte said in an email that he respected Speedo’s decision.
“I was immature and I made a stupid mistake. I’m human. I made a mistake and I definitely learned from this,” Lochte said in an interview on the “Today” show.
“They (the people of Rio) put on a great Games. … And my immature, intoxicated behavior tarnished that a little,” Lochte said.
Another sponsor, Japanese mattress maker Airweave, had said on Friday that it would continue to monitor the investigation.
“As long as he is a respectable athlete, he will remain a U.S. ambassador for Airweave as long as our partnership agreement remains effective,” Motokuni Takaoka, CEO of Airweave, had said in an email. Airweave could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Ralph Lauren said its endorsement agreement with Lochte was specifically for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The company had taken down references to the gold medalist from its website last week.
Lochte, 32, won one gold medal at the Rio Olympics. He was the breakout star of the 2012 London Olympics, landing a short-lived reality TV series called “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” and appearing, as himself, on top shows like “30 Rock” and “90210.
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