Thursday was a rough day for the eight-time gold medal-winning Olympian Michael Phelps, who was suspended from competition for three months and lost Kellogg's as a sponsor. By Friday, however, news from the Phelps camp was picking up.
Having all but ruined his role model status with children after being photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe, Phelps' marketing team explored the possibilities of a more adult, sophisticated audience.
Phelps' agent announced Friday morning they have picked up Rollie's Smoke Shop as a new sponsor.
"There's a real opportunity to exploit Michael Phelps' new 'bad boy' image," Phelps' agent said, explaining the move. "Sure, he disappointed millions of kids, but now he can be embraced by a completely new demographic. We’re looking into other deals with Manny’s Late Night drive-thru; Weed Magazine wants to do a cover. We’re in talks with Speedo on a hemp fabric swimsuit. We’re taking this in a whole new direction.”
We went to Piscataway, New Jersey to get the local reaction to the sponsorship announcement.
"I think he's a lot hotter now," Mary Di Nuzio said between gum smacks and cigarette draws. "He was too geeky before. Too clean. I get all of my papers, uh, Sunday Papers, from Rollie's. I think it's a great fit."
Another local, Randy Teague, added, "I mean, hell, look at the way he beat those people in Beijing. Man, they ought to make him compete high. Give someone else a chance, man. 420!"
Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman, took a more philosophic approach, saying that he believes Phelps will emerge from the experience a stronger swimmer and person.
With a lot less money.