Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is in danger of losing endorsements because of the controversy unfolding in Rio.
The 32-year-old, who trained in Charlotte with SwimMAC, had said he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint after a night of partying last weekend. Brazilian officials said Thursday that the claim is false, and that the intoxicated swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by guards before paying for the damage.
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, would need sponsorships to fund his training were he to decide to compete in the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Currently, he’s endorsed by Speedo, Ralph Lauren, Marriott and Airweave, a mattress company, according to his website. None could be reached for comment Thursday.
In an ESPN interview Thursday, Darren Rovell, a sports business reporter with the network, said the incident could take away all of Lochte’s endorsements.
“It would be hard to imagine, if this story does come to fruition and this was a lie, for any of those companies to stand behind him,” Rovell said.
Losing such deals isn’t unusual in professional sports because of a scandal.
When Lochte’s teammate Michael Phelps was photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe in 2009, for instance, USA Swimming suspended him for three months and Kellogg did not renew its sponsorship, according to a New York Times report at the time. Phelps, a 28-time Olympic medalist, since gained other endorsements, like those from Under Armour, Head & Shoulders and Louis Vuitton.