The Ryan Lochte Story or How To Drown Your Personal Brand and Future Earnings One Beer at a Time.
Let me get this straight.
Even though at age 32 you are nearing the end of your career, competing for endorsement dollars with untarnished athletes 10 years your junior, and – let’s be real – not Michael Phelps, you thought it would be a really good idea to hang out with athletes barely out of their teens, get drunk, vandalize a gas station, lie about it, demonize Rio, then try to look like a hero.
So, who cares if your sideshow detracted from colleagues who had trained for years to achieve their Olympic dreams?
What difference does it make that Rio has struggled the entire Olympic season to convince the world it was safe to visit?
To hell with representing the USA and being a role model for every Olympic hopeful staring at the bottom of the pool for hours on end during their formative years.
You are you and therefore can shuck-and-jive your way through this with your explanations, wink-wink apology, and swagger.
Or can you?
Post-Rio your future was about cashing in on your Olympic medals and all-American good looks with brands seeking to align themselves with your image.
Prior to “the incident” your brand was about vigor, tenacity, and success. All positive qualities.
Now your brand is about immaturity, selfishness and deceit.
Not exactly ideals brand are seeking through association.
You see when it comes to endorsements, there is a little thing called a morality clause and it appears you may have violated them with your bad decisions, distractions, and frankly, hubris.
In fact, according to Forbes, you may lose anywhere between $5-10MM in future earnings from brands like Ralph Lauren, Speedo and Airweave, all of whom sought your mug for endorsement
Time will tell how this story will end.
But for now we know that like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Ray Rice, once you dilute your brand with socially unacceptable behavior it is hard to recover.
Not to worry though, as long as there is Celebrity Rehab, there will be a place for you in the public eye.