The Today Show Gallery of Olympians

Ryan Lochte Finds Redemption In An Unexpected Place

In Hollywood, they say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. In the case of Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte, getting caught making up stories about a fake armed robbery to cover for his own boneheaded conduct may not have been immediate proof of that old axiom. Indeed, his conduct was so lurid that it ended up costing him every single one of his endorsement contracts, and thus it resulted in a serious diminution of his anticipated post-Olympic income stream.

While this may have come as a fitting reward for him personally, it also ended up being a serious loss to Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a worthy charitable organization that Lochte had been supporting through a series of ongoing donations. Yet the world continues to turn, and Lochte has now landed a new sponsor—one that is outside the normally-expected sports manufacturing endorsements which are the bread-and-butter of famous athletes everywhere.

Therefore, the news is not really that Ryan Lochte has managed to survive his brief bout with infamy, but that he has partnered up with a company that would not be the first thing that comes to mind in association with an Olympic swimmer. Yet, like the newsmaking campaign that Priceline put together when it landed Star Trek’s William Shatner as its new spokesperson, there is a kind of weirdly appropriate symmetry in Debt.com joining forces with a public figure such as Lochte, who is himself in need of a second chance.

That is the central theme of the Debt.com campaign—that they are there for those unfortunate souls who are in need of a fresh start and a second chance at achieving their dreams. Given the nature of the pitch, they may indeed have latched upon the perfect conduit for their message. If there is anybody in the public eye who has royally screwed up in front of millions of people, that would be a great front man that the average unlucky Joe or Jane might have a little bit of a connection with.

In addition to this match of goal and medium, the deal offers many benefits for all of the parties involved in the transaction. The Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy campaign reaps the benefits of an elevated profile for their activities through the wider platform now available to Lochte. Debt.com gets a high-value spokesman that might otherwise have never said yes to their inquiries, and quite possibly at a reduced rate than Ryan Lochte was previously able to command. He of course gets a very welcome second chance to refurbish his broken public image and show everyone that he isn’t actually a bad person at all– just someone who made one dumb but really big mistake.

So, in the final analysis, the old Hollywood meme seems to be coming true at last for Ryan and his new sponsor at Debt.com. The bad publicity of the past has opened a new door and quite possibly allowed the Olympian to connect with a large audience than would have ever been possible before. The future may not yet be bright, but the road to redemption has at least yielded some signs of regeneration. According to all the initial media reports, the Ryan Lochte Second Chance gig is very popular and is expected to be quite a feather in the cap of the company that convinced him to throw his hat into their ring.

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