Last year was Michael Phelps' year. Phelps won eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympic summer games resulting in over $50 million in endorsement deals for the 23-year-old from such companies as Subway and Kellogg's. But one month into 2009, pictures of the Olympic hero smoking marijuana from a bong surfaced, causing an uproar.
Back in 2004, at the age of 19, Phelps was caught driving under the influence and faced an 18-month probation. Now, many feel that Phelps should be dropped from endorsement deals because he is a role model and has been caught, again, doing something illegal.
The first incident is a good indication that this guy should not be a role model for your kids. He is an athlete, not a church group leader. He trained his ass off for one thing-- to win, not to help raise your children. There is no reason why young adults in the spotlight have to be slapped with the label of role model and be forced to live their lives accordingly.
Phelps has become a household name with millions in the bank after many years of hard work and sacrifices, so of course he is going to party. It was only weed. It wasn't cocaine or crystal meth, he didn't kill anyone and it is doubtful he is a chronic user. He probably got shitfaced at a party, was offered a hit and accepted, no big deal. The man won eight gold medals, so are people really going to let something as minuscule as this overshadow that accomplishment?
How many 23-year-olds does anyone know who have started a foundation of any sort? After winning big in Beijing, Phelps started a charitable foundation to help kids learn to swim. If he has already given back much more than his peers, then why is what he does in his personal life a big deal?
The Sheriff of Richland County, South Carolina, where the incident took place, says he will press charges if he can prove Phelps smoked the marijuana in his jurisdiction. Kellogg's will not renew the contract they held with Phelps, because the incident conflicts with their image. Also, USA swimming withdrew its funding to Phelps and banned him from competition for three months. He is not getting away with it without a slap on the wrist; he is facing more punishment than most have.
So, within five years Phelps has either just slipped up or was dumb enough to get caught doing something illegal, not once, but twice. If you have people investing a lot of money into you, you should probably make sure you are partying with people you can trust not to sell you out to the tabloids. He says that these incidents were big mistakes and he has learned his lesson, so now everyone should go get their own bong out, take a big hit and relax.