Ryan Lochte Grill: Controversial Mouthpiece Adds Intrigue to USA Swimming Star

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  Ryan Lochte of the United States celebrates with his Gold Medal during the Medal Ceremony for the Men's 400m Individual Medley on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

While the gold medal win in the 400-meter individual medley should have been enough to catapult Team USA star Ryan Lochte into stardom, it was the mouthpiece—or grill as we call it on the streets—that he wore to the podium that garnered the most attention.

Controversy creates cash, and Lochte has become money.

According to USA Today, the IOC judges told the swimming star he would not receive his medal if he didn’t remove his star-spangled mouthpiece.

As fun as the incident was for everyone that knows Lochte as a person and as an athlete, the controversy the grill he tried to wear on the podium almost cost him the gold medal.

Of course, Lochte obliged and received his medal, but he just can’t stop adding fuel to the fire.

Lochte told ESPN after winning the 400-meter IM and watching Michael Phelps finish in fourth:

I don't know if this puts me as one of the world's greatest. I hope so, but I guess that's not my decision. All I can say is, to me, Michael is one of the world's greatest. No matter what happens, he will always go down as one of the greatest.

This is the kind of talk that can get even the most casual swimming fans excited about Lochte and the rest of his time in London. Add in the talk about the cool mouthpiece that he almost got in trouble for, and swimming has found its new posterboy.

Say goodbye to Michael Phelps and hello to Ryan Lochte.

Lochte did not dance around any subject leading up to the 2012 Olympics, calling out American swimming legend Michael Phelps and saying that he would be the one walking away with a plethora of medals in London.

So far, all the talk Lochte has unleashed on the media has been backed up with some of the best times in the history of the Olympics. With plenty more events, the intrigue around the swimming star is through the roof.

There is a new national hero, and the more gold he wins in London, the higher his stock will rise when he gets back to the United States.

Check back for more on the 2012 Summer Olympics as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s Olympics page to get your fill of the best athletes the world has to offer.