Why did Michael Phelps lose endorsements?

Swimming - Olympics: Day 8
Michael Phelps at Rio Olympics, Swimming - Day 8

Michael Phelps is one of the most well-known athletes in the world. The Olympic champion swimmer brought home 28 medals, including 23 golds, three silvers, and two bronzes.

His career was not the most simple. The illustrious Olympic swimmer encountered his fair share of obstacles along the way, including arrests by the police and bans from the US swimming team. In 2009, he even lost a $100 million sponsor, Kellogs, due to a viral photograph of him smoking a marijuana pipe.


The marijuana incident involving Michael Phelps

In 2009, Olympic swimming superstar Michael Phelps lost a significant sponsorship agreement and was barred from competing for three months after being caught using marijuana.

Viral image of Michael Phelps smoking marijuana pipe
Viral image of Michael Phelps smoking marijuana pipe

After the photograph went viral, the Kellogg Company cut off ties with champion swimmer Michael Phelps. The Battle Creek, Michigan-based packaged food manufacturer later announced that it would not extend its endorsement agreement with the gold medalist, who was up for renewal at the end of the month. The firm's products include Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, and Pop-Tarts.

Earlier in 2009, the corporation presented a limited-edition package series showcasing Michael Phelps as a world-class swimmer. His face appeared on Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, Corn Flakes, Club Crackers, and Rice Krispies Treats Marshmallow Square.

Additionally, Phelps was also suspended for three months by USA Swimming, the organization that oversees the sport, but not because he broke any drug laws, according to the federation. Instead, it was because of how many people he let down.

The first brand to drop the athlete was Kellogg's, which primarily targeted children. However, Phelps expressed his apologies for the incident. His other sponsors had accepted his apologies, including Speedo and Omega. Others did not express an opinion, such as Visa and Subway.


Michael Phelps' career after 2009

The marijuana incident dented Michael Phelps' career for a short span. But he bounced back, continuing his legendary status. Later in 2010, at the Pan Pacific Championships, Phelps won six gold medals. The following year, in 2011, he participated in the World Aquatics Championships, ending up with a medal tally of seven, including four golds, two silvers, and a bronze.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps put on another legendary show, capturing four golds and two silvers. Just after the event, he announced his retirement from swimming.

Later in 2014, Phelps came out of retirement and competed in the Pan Pacific Championships. It was a remarkable comeback, as he finished the tournament with six medals, including four golds and two silvers.

He was arrested again in 2014 on DUI charges, but that did not stop him from competing in the 2015 US National Championships. He ended the tournament with three golds, including the fastest swim in any competition that year.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 8
Swimming - Olympics: Day 8

Then came the Rio games 2016, Phelps' final Olympic outing. He was thought to be past his prime but proved the critics wrong by securing six medals. He won five gold medals and a silver medal and ended his career as the greatest Olympian of all time.

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Edited by Piyush Bisht
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