Cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. said it won’t renew its sponsorship contract with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps because of a photo that showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company said Thursday that Phelps’s behaviour – caught on camera and published Sunday in the British tabloid News of the World – is “not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”
The company put Phelps on boxes of its Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes.
The 23-year-old swimmer, who won eight gold medals in Beijing, has kept the backing of many sponsors since the photo surfaced from a November house party at the University of South Carolina.
Among those standing by him, even if they don’t condone his behaviour, are Visa Inc., Speedo, luxury Swiss watchmaker Omega and sports beverage PureSport’s maker Human Performance Labs.
Phelps apologized for his “regrettable” behaviour and “bad judgment” after the photo appeared.
Phelps’s agent was not immediately available to comment.
Kellogg had contracts with Phelps and other Olympic athletes to support its association with the U.S. Olympic team. The company said in a statement that it won’t renew its contract with Phelps, which expires at the end of February.
Kellogg would not disclose the value of its deal with Phelps.
Experts have said that after Phelps won his medals, he scored millions in endorsement deals.