Three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton dealt with depression and a tough home life by becoming a prostitute. The 44-year-old runner responded to a report on Thursday by The Smoking Gun website and acknowledged that she was living a double life by working in prostitution.
She directly responded to the report in a number of tweets on her Twitter account, writing: "I realize 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. I was drawn to escorting in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life."
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According to the report, Hamilton has been working for a year as an escort in Las Vegas and has also spent time Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago and said she charged $600 an hour for her services.
The article describes Hamilton as a motivational speaker and says that she gave "about 60 motivational speeches annually, raising her daughter, running her realty firm, and doing appearances for Disney and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series."
At first Hamilton relied on a "code of silence" to keep her identity a secret, but eventually, she said she became "too trusting." During her career, Hamilton has appeared in numerous national ads for large athletic companies, including Nike and Oakley.
Hamilton said in the report that one of her clients contacted a writer about her identity.
"He totally broke all the rules by outing me," she said in the article. "I don't want to be like him. Because he is scum. And I will not become scum to make myself feel good," Favor Hamilton said. "I will not do it. I would suffer rather than go that route of being vindictive."
She had a full profile under a different name for one of Las Vegas's top escort services, Haley Heston's Private Collection. Under the name "Kelly", she wrote that: "I met Haley with the idea of fulfilling a fantasy and only doing it for the short term." However, she added, "Well, after my first date, I was hooked, and have been doing my best to visit Las Vegas as often as my schedule allows (I run my own business in my real world life)."
The article listed her rates as "from $600 for one hour to $6000 for a 24-hour period" and that she could offer "Full GFE," or "girlfriend experience."
Hamilton was rated as one of the top "providers" on The Erotic Review, according to the article and posed in pictures in lingerie to accompany her profile.
The news is a shock for an athlete who competed for the U.S. at the Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000, but did not win any medals. She has won seven U.S. national titles in her career and was named USA Track and Field Distance Runner of the Year in 2000.
Hamilton has dealt with numerous issues of personal and family tragedy since during her running career, including the suicide of her brother, according to the New York Times.
During her Olympic career, Hamilton fell down on purpose in Sydney in 2000 in the 1,500 meters when she came to the realization she wouldn't win the gold medal. She also dealt with postpartum depression after giving birth to her daughter, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"I wanted that gold so bad," Favor Hamilton told The Journal Sentinel. "I thought that was the only way to true happiness in my life. It was unbelievable how I let my brain get so out of perspective."
Over the years Hamilton has spoken about her personal struggles, saying that she is a "pleaser and perfectionist" and that at times there were "demons in your brain telling you you're not good enough, you're not fast enough, you need to be better."
"Your whole life, you're told how great you are, from your coaches to your friends to your parents' friends," Favor Hamilton said in the July interview. "I had to be the perfect child, in my mind. It wasn't anybody's fault. I never blamed anybody. It's just the way society is."
According to the Smoking Gun, Hamilton and her husband reside in Madison, Wis., "in a $600,000 home and appear to be in no financial distress based on the website's review of court and municipal records."
Hamilton told the site that her husband was aware of her double life, but that he was only one. "He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all," she said.
Hamilton had a decorated career as a track athlete in both high school, college and professionally. She held the U.S. Junior title in the 1500 meters three different times in high school and won 11 state high school titles. While in college at the University of Wisconsin, she won nine NCAA individual titles and is the namesake of the Big Ten's Suzy Favor Athlete of the Year Award, which is given to the conference's top female athlete.
"As crazy as I know it seems, I never thought I would be exposed, therefore never hurting anybody," she said in one Twitter post.
According to ESPN.com, "Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman said the conference had no comment."
She finished her tweets by writing, "I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter, and friend."
The stunning fall for Hamilton is shocking, but not all that uncommon.
According to Forbes.com, "A survey by the USA Track and Field Foundation found that only 50% of U.S. track athletes who rank among the top in their sport make more than $15,000 from sponsorships, grants and prize money. Yet, the fame and riches at the very top lead to scores of doping scandals in the sport."