Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Syneron Candela Drop Ryan Lochte's Sponsorships Amid Rio Scandal

Company promises to "donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte's fee to Save The Children"

By Zach Johnson Aug 22, 2016 6:20 PMTags

Ryan Lochte has now lost all of his sponsorship deals.

Speedo USA announced Monday that it is no longer backing the swimmer, a 12-time Olympic medalist. The decision came after Lochte apologized on NBC's Today for his "immature behavior" in Rio two weekends ago. "Speedo USA will donate a $50,000 portion of Lochte's fee to Save The Children, a global charity partner of Speedo USA's parent company, for children in Brazil," the company told E! News in a statement, adding, "While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for."

"We appreciate his many achievements," Speedo USA continued, "and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience." Lochte issued a statement of his own, telling E! News, "I respect Speedo's decision and am grateful for the opportunities that our partnership has afforded me over the years. I am proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved together."

The swimmer's sponsorships were worth a reported $1 million annually, according to ESPN. Lochte needs those sponsorships in order to fund his training for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Red flags were raised after Lochte's name and image were recently removed from Olympic endorser page on Ralph Lauren's website. In a statement to E! News, the fashion label said Monday, "Ralph Lauren continues to proudly sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team and the values that its athletes embody. Ralph Lauren's endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was specifically in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the company will not be renewing his contract."

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Handout/Speedo via Getty Images

Lochte lost another endorsement as a result of his Rio shenanigans. Syneron Candela cut ties with the gold medalist, who began promoting Gentle's Laser Hair Removal system in April. "Syneron Candela will be ending its partnership with Ryan Lochte. We hold our employees to high standards, and we expect the same of our business partners," a representative said in a statement. "We wish Ryan well on his future endeavors and thank him for the time he spent supporting our brand."

Airweave also released a statement today to E! News explaining their decision to part ways with the athlete, saying, "Airweave is a proud sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams and our dedication to athletic achievement is unwavering. Our endorsement agreement with Ryan Lochte was in support of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. After careful consideration, we have made the decision to end our partnership with Ryan Lochte. We remain committed to supporting Team USA and the athletes preparing for the Paralympic games."

Lochte is working with crisis manager Matthew Hiltzik to repair his public image (and salvage his other deals), but is it too little, too late? According to Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management and author of Manager's Guide to Crisis Management, "Behavior like this makes sponsors, or potential sponsors, seriously question their relationship with any athlete." But it's not necessarily over for Lochte. "You look at other athletes who have done, certainly in their case more embarrassing things, like Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods, and they paid the price in sponsorships. Lochte has somewhat of a reputation for acting up already, so there's a crisis risk inherent always in sponsoring a celebrity or a celebrity athlete."

After interviews with Today and People, what else can Lochte do? "How he deals with this is going to be more important than the effect of the incident himself," Bernstein tells E! News. "If he deals with it humbly, and honestly from this point on, it'll be a dramatic difference than if he continues to be in denial. The public, particularly the American public, is quite quick to forgive when there appears to be true humility and transparency after a mistake has been made."

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Syneron Candela

The Rio incident shouldn't jeopardize his career in the long run, Bernstein added. "There are certain standards of behavior insisted upon certainly by Olympic committees of any country, and I'm sure the American Olympic committee would certainly warn him," he said. "A higher standard of behavior is expected, that goes along with that type of celebrity in sports. I am sure that even their contracts with the Olympic committee calls for a high standards of behavior. I know they get lectures about representing their country before they go to an Olympic event."

In his Today interview with Matt Lauer, Lochte admitted to being "intoxicated" when he allegedly urinated behind a gas station and vandalized its bathroom after a night of partying. Calling his behavior that night "immature" and "childish," he said, "I take full responsibility for everything." Lochte had previously told Lauer that he and the three other swimmers involved—Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen—were "victims," but the Rio police referred to them as "vandals." Asked how he felt about that, Lochte stumbled over his words. "It's how you want to, how you want to...make it look like. Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion. Or us paying just for the damages," the swimmer said. "Like, we don't know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."

Lochte first apologized via social media Friday, where he owned up to his "role in taking the focus away from the many athletes fulfilling their dreams of participating in the Olympics."

—Reporting by Alli Rosenbloom and Beth Sobol

(Originally published on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, at 8:39 a.m. PDT.)

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