One of America’s most distinguished Olympians has apologised on Twitter after admitting living a double life as a Las Vegas prostitute.
“I do not expect people to understand,” tweeted Suzy Favor-Hamilton, 44, a star middle-distance runner who competed at three Olympics and won seven national college titles before working as a prostitute. “But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.”
So admired was Favor-Hamilton that one of America’s most prestigious college athletics awards is named in her honour, putting her on a par with Jesse Owens, after whom the male equivalent is titled. In private, however, she had fought demons since her teens. After coming second in a high school cross-country event she developed an eating disorder.
She later battled postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, who is now seven, and during her track career, in which she failed to deliver at the very highest level, she says she was plagued by debilitating self-doubt.
On Twitter, she said she was “drawn to escorting in large part because it provided coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life ... As crazy as I know it seems, I never thought I would be exposed, therefore never hurting anybody ... I have made highly irrational choices and I take full responsibility for them. I am not a victim here and knew what I was doing”.
She had worked with Haley Heston’s Private Collection, an escort agency, since last December, booking engagements in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. She charged rates that included $6,000 for a 24-hour period with a single man, or $1,500 for two hours with a male-and-female couple.
Her profile on the agency’s website said that she had entered prostitution to fulfil a fantasy, but became “hooked”.
TheSmokingGun.com reported that she worked under the pseudonym “Kelly Lundy” but revealed her true identity to several clients, expecting them to keep her secret. “Everybody in this world makes mistakes. I made a huge mistake,” she said.
She added that her husband Mark, 44, with whom she ran a successful estate agency in Madison, Wisconsin, knew of her escort work. “He tried to get me to stop. He wasn’t supportive of this at all,” she said. The couple live in a $600,000 home and are not thought to have financial problems.
On the track, she posted five of the nine fastest 1,500-metre times by an American woman. Entering the 2000 Sydney Games, her final Olympics, she had the fastest 1,500-metre time in the world that year. She led with 150 metres to go, but tumbled to the track after being overtaken.