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This story first appeared in the August 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
First there was the diamond American-flag grill Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte tried to wear on the podium while collecting a gold medal. Then came his admission that he pees in the pool and his mother’s suggestion that the busy 28-year-old only has time for one-night stands.
Despite the sometimes-negative publicity — the blog Jezebel dubbed him “America’s sexiest douchebag” — sports-business experts say Lochte’s antics shouldn’t hurt his ability to cash in on his five London medals. If anything, they might help.
“I don’t think Ryan was a buttoned-up guy to begin with,” says Evan Morgenstein, CEO of PMG Sports, which represents past Olympians including Janet Evans and Tyler Clary, the latter a swimmer who won a gold medal in London in the 200-meter backstroke. “A tight-ass Madison Avenue ad agency who has a client that is risk-averse — they weren’t going to work with him anyway.”
Lochte, a Rochester, N.Y., native, has nine big endorsement deals with the likes of Speedo, Gatorade, Ralph Lauren and Gillette, which presented him with a blinged-out razor to match his grill at a press event Aug. 5. And Fortune has estimated his 2012 endorsement earnings at $2.3 million.
Perhaps not surprising, Lochte’s sports agent, Erika Wright, tells THR that the swimmer has received offers to create a fashion line, has been asked by Will Ferrell to make a Funny or Die video and has multiple TV offers on the table.
“I cannot tell you the exact shows, but two different reality show concepts have been offered and one additional is being discussed,” Wright writes in an e-mail, adding that American talk shows are angling to book Lochte as a guest when he returns to the States.
Lochte also told reporters in London that he would be open to appearing on Dancing With the Stars, even suggesting that he and U.S. swimming teammate Michael Phelps square off on the ABC competition. And in a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest, Lochte said that he plans to move to Los Angeles after the Olympics.
Wright adds that Lochte is receiving offers for endorsement deals “daily” and has “little room for adding more” sponsors. “He has no issues whatsoever with regard to endorsements. … I can say things have been quite busy for team Lochte, heating up fast and furious since the Olympics.”
Indeed, Lochte has made good use of his time in London, partying at celebrity-friendly Chinawhite nightclub, among others. Wright says that the Funny or Die video that Lochte has been asked to make would be filmed in London before he returns home.
Jesse Ryback of consultancy Premier Partnerships notes that as long as Lochte doesn’t run afoul of the law or find himself in more serious controversies, the swimmer should continue to attract attention from prospective endorsers and sponsors. “He has this Kanye West-like persona in terms of attention,” says Ryback. “That makes him even more memorable.”
Lochte also is represented by manager Shawn Zenga but does not have a Hollywood agent.
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