AFRICANGLOBE – Fashion designer Ralph Lauren and swimwear label Speedo dropped their sponsorship of U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, embattled in a scandal after he lied about getting robbed during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Speedo announced that the company will donate a US$50,000 chunk of its sponsorship of the swimmer to the charity Save the Children to support its operations in Brazil. The company did not disclose the full fee of Lochte’s 10-year sponsorship, set to expire this year.
“We cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” Speedo USA wrote in a statement.
Ralph Lauren said in a statement that the sponsorship deal with Lochte was “specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games” and that the fashion label will not be renewing the contract. The value of the Ralph Lauren sponsorship is also unknown.
Lochte’s website still lists Ralph Lauren as a sponsor, while the designer’s website has removed a photo of the swimmer sporting his gold medal won in Rio in the Men’s 4x200m Free Relay.
A third sponsor, the hair removal products manufacturer Syneron Candela, also cut ties with the disgraced swimmer, saying in a statement that the company expects its “business partners” to adhere to high standards.
According to industry sources cited by ESPN, Lochte’s sponsorship deals were estimated at US$1 million per year before they started to pull out of their contracts.
Lochte is also sponsored by the mattress company Airweave. The company wrote in a statement last week that it does “not condone unlawful behavior and will continue to monitor the investigation closely.”
Lochte has come under fire after Brazilian police revealed that he’d lied about being robbed by gunmen posing as police officers. Through surveillance footage and witness accounts, police discovered that Lochte and three teammates destroyed a gas station bathroom door during a night of partying, the same night they claimed they had been robbed.
The 12-time, 32-year-old Olympic medalist was slow to admit that the story was fabricated, even while Brazilian authorities investigated the claims. He issued a statement Friday, six days after the incident early Sunday morning. He apologized for “not being more careful and candid” in his version of events and claimed that it is “traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country.”
Lochte’s scandal, quickly dubbed “Lochtegate” on social media, and his kid-glove treatment in the media has garnered sharp comments about the disproportionate response to Black children and young men, such as 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and the perception of them as violent criminals compared to adult white males.