Michael Phelps' bong hit heard round the world has now affected his wallet, but it's also done wonders for his fame.
USA Swimming withdrew its financial support of Phelps and barred him from competition for three months. Also, on Thursday, Advertising Age reported Kellogg will let its endorsement contract with the gold medal swimmer expire.
"Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg,” the company said in a statement. “His contract expires at the end of February and we have made a decision not to extend his contract."
British tabloid News of the World recently published a photo of Phelps smoking from a suspicious-looking pipe—commonly referred to as a bong—at a party in South Carolina. The swimmer later admitted he was smoking marijuana in the picture.
Ad Age said Subway, which signed a lucrative deal with Phelps’, has yet to comment on the matter.
Phelps was arrested when he was 19 and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol—strike one. The bong smoking incident marks strike two. If strike three comes, he'll be bigger than ever. Until the picture hit the press, Phelps was a swimming sensation with a past DUI blunder. Now he is the bad boy of swimming.
FastCompany reported this week that PR pros are "swarming" around Phelps offering help. Ragan.com may publish a similar story about his need for PR help.
Don't listen. I think he's doing just fine. In the 21st century, America's squeaky clean heroes usually fade into obscurity; the bad boys have second, third, fourth acts and beyond.
If Phelps craves fame, then the bong picture was an inspired PR move.
Cartoon by Dave Granlund.