By Subrat Patnaik and Liana B. Baker
(Reuters) – U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte lost the last of his four major sponsors, Japanese mattress maker Airweave, days after he admitted to exaggerating his story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio during the Olympics.
The incident embarrassed the host city, angered the local police and government and dominated news coverage of South America’s first Olympics, leading the U.S. Olympic Committee to issue an apology.
Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, apologized on Saturday in an interview to Brazil’s largest broadcaster, Globo TV. “I wasn’t lying to a certain extent,” he said. “I over-exaggerated what was happening to me.”
Within hours of the Games coming to a close, Speedo USA issued a statement saying it would drop Lochte as one of its endorsers, while Ralph Lauren Corp said it would not be renewing its contract with the swimmer.
Hair removal company Syneron Candela also ended its partnership with Lochte, four months after naming him its global brand ambassador for one of its products.
Sponsorship and endorsement deals typically include “morals clauses” that allow sponsors to terminate deals early if they feel the athlete has behaved poorly in public.
Nottingham, UK-based Speedo’s U.S. unit said on Monday it would donate $50,000 of Lochte’s fee to Save The Children, a global charity partner of Speedo.
Lochte said in an email that he respected Speedo’s decision.
“I was immature and I made a stupid mistake. I’m human. I made a mistake and I definitely learned from this,” Lochte said in an interview on the Today show.
“They (the people of Rio) put on a great Games … And my immature, intoxicated behavior tarnished that a little,” Lochte said.
Ralph Lauren and Airweave said its endorsement agreement with Lochte was for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Ralph Lauren had taken down references to the gold medalist from its website last week.
Lochte, 32, won one gold medal at the Rio Olympics. He was the breakout star of the 2012 London Olympics, landing a short-lived reality TV series called “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” and appearing, as himself, on top shows such as “30 Rock” and “90210”.
(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Liana Baker in Rio de Janeiro, Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant in New York and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)