But as a business commodity, Phelps has some major upsides that could soften the blow of alleged DUI No. 2, Calkins said. First, Phelps has not been in the news recently—and likely will keep a low profile, like other Olympians, until the run-up to Rio, Calkins said.
In that scenario, his Tuesday incident will have negative consequences with sponsors only if the public, indeed, remembers it. That, in a sense, is now up to late-night and cable comedians known for commenting on events of the day and lambasting celebrities. Meanwhile, new companies considering a fresh partnership with Phelps now will likely apply more scrutiny to that decision.
"Sponsors will ask some tough questions," Calkins said. "Poor behavior in the months leading up the Olympic Games would be a significant problem."
Before the 2012 London Olympics, Forbes reported that Phelps' slew of sponsorships earned him $5 million to $7 million annually, and that his agents were working to secure the swimmer long-term corporate deals to carry him for life.
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