Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Michael Phelps and Kellogg Co.

Following the Beijing Olympics, Phelps turned his 14 gold medals into cold, hard cash: his agent estimated that his endorsement deals with Mazda, Visa and others could top $100 million in his lifetime. But Phelps' golden-boy image was tarnished on Jan. 31, when British tabloid News of the World published a photo of Phelps appearing to smoke marijuana from a bong at a University of South Carolina house party. The headline? "What a Dope." Kellogg Co. couldn't have agreed more. "Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg," a spokeswoman said. His face was summarily dropped from cereal boxes around the world. Phelps released an apologetic statement and recorded a video apology with Mandarin subtitles for his fans in China. "I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way," he said. Even so, USA Swimming banned Phelps from competition through early May. No bother: the national and world championships were scheduled for later in the summer anyway.