Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte is In Too Deep with this Mangled Message

Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte is In Too Deep with this Mangled MessageThis one was almost too obvious—yet, you have spoken.

Despite a few challenges (including a green, algae-laden diving pool) the Rio Olympics were defined by outstanding performances by athletes such as Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Katie Ledecky, and Simone Biles. Then Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte came along.

Lochte was part of the gold-medal-winning men’s freestyle relay swim team. A notorious party guy, he and three other U.S. Olympic swimmers later managed to get drunk and trash a bathroom at a Rio gas station. Then he lied about it to an NBC reporter, claiming he and his buddies have been robbed at gunpoint during a taxi ride. Then he fled back to the U.S., leaving his friends in Brazil. By the time he eventually came clean, Lochte lost all four of his endorsement deals. Three companies (Speedo, Airweave, and Gentle Hair Removal) terminated their existing deals, while Ralph Lauren announced it would not renew a deal that ran through the 2016 Olympics. The total of the endorsement deals lost is estimated at more than a million dollars.

To review, messages become mangled when they take on at least one of these five unfortunate characteristics:

  1. Not authentic or believable
  2. Detached from reality
  3. Focused on the sender, not the receiver
  4. Delivered inconsistently across channels and settings
  5. Not conveyed skillfully

Lochte ran afoul of the first Mark of a Mangled Message, with a story that was decidedly inauthentic. One might argue that he was also detached from reality (#2) and did not lie convincingly (#5), but even so his unbelievable falsehood both detracted from other American Olympians and cost him a small fortune.

Find a Mangled Message—and support a worthy cause

This month, the fiasco of Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte dominated not only the news coming out of the Rio Olympics but also nominations for a Mangled Message. The first nomination for Lochte’s antics came from an entrant in The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (https://www.gentlemansride.com/), which raises money for prostate cancer research and men’s health. So, it was my pleasure to donate $100 to that worthy cause.

Each month we will review your nominations, share the ignominious “winner” at JimKarrh.com, and make a contribution in the name of the nominator to a charity of their choice. The default recipient is Ambassadors of Compassion (www.aoclife.org), which I am proud to support on its Educators’ Circle.

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