Ryan Lochte is one of America’s most decorated male competitive swimmers. His accolades are plentiful with 12 Olympic medals, including six gold, three silver, and three bronze. He is the world record holder in the 200-meter individual medley, and was named American Swimmer of the Year and World Swimmer of the Year twice by Swimming World Magazine. In total, Lochte has won 70 medals in major international competitions, with 45 of them gold. In addition to his swimming abilities, Lochte’s is known for his good looks and lively personality, gaining him publicity through magazine covers and television appearances. He has appeared on the cover of Vogue and was named in People Magazine on the “Sexist Man Alive” list. He made appearances on 30 Rock and Beverly Hills 90210, and starred in his reality TV show, What Would Ryan Lochte Do?
Today, Lochte’s net worth is reportedly $6 million. While this is no small amount, it could possibly be much higher had he not been involved in a scandal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. During the Olympic games, Lochte and others reported a robbery, later confessing that it was a fabricated story. Lochte’s actions cost him millions in endorsements with companies such as Speedo and Ralph Lauren immediately ending deals with him. Ending deals with a celebrity who faces bad publicity over a misdeed is a common reaction. Companies choose celebrities who are perceived positively by their target audiences because the companies want to associate their products with someone liked and admired. If these companies continue to use celebrities who have negative or undesirable publicity, it may appear to the public that these companies condone the actions of those celebrities. Therefore, they could lose consumer trust. As brand image is all about perception, companies do not like the risks that bad publicity can generate.
While most people make poor decisions at one time or another, celebrities are held to higher standards because they are public figures. Therefore, their poor decisions could turn into big financial and monetary losses. Other athletes who lost endorsement deals because of behavioral actions include Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, and Kobe Bryant. Over time, these athletes were able to rehabilitate their image and companies began to work with them again. These athletes continued to prove their valuable skills by winning more awards and making records in their respective sport. They were also able to convince the public that they regretted their actions, and they continue to prove this by staying on their best behavior. However, their misdeeds will always follow them, making it even more work for them to convince the public that they are changed people.
Fortunately for Ryan Lochte, he has been given new opportunities since the scandal. One such break was becoming a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. This kept him in the public eye in a big way as millions of people watch the show. But perhaps the biggest break is that several companies have been willing to endorse him, despite the scandal. These companies have made Lochte a poster boy for starting anew with such campaign slogans as “Clean Start” with PowerBar, “Just Let Me Work” with swim apparel company TYR, and “When Life Happens” with Debt.com. The CEO of cough drop company Pine Bros. specifically stated that everyone makes mistakes and wanted to give Lochte a second chance, capitalizing on the company’s “forgiving” message. Fortunately for Lochte, these breaks came relatively fast after the scandal. With luck, good behavior, and continued success in his sport, Lochte may be on the path for redeeming his value in the public eye.