We are all quite familiar with sporting success stories, stories where an athlete is lifted out of misery by fulfilling his/her dream. But what happens when there is no success to follow hard work? What happens to the athlete who can attain that glory promised to him/her after the hard work?
Where does all that pent-up anguish go? What outlet is there for that frustration? When something you have given your whole life does not turn out the way it was supposed to, it cannot be easy to switch over to something else and start from scratch.
Suzy Favor Hamilton's story of going from an Olympic runner to a high-end escort is the story of a fallen athlete floundering to find her path.
In 2011, Suzy Hamilton was a famous middle-distance runner, conventionally beautiful; she had represented USA three times at the Olympics in athletics, she had contracts with Nike and promotional work for Walt Disney and a loving husband and a young daughter. Then The Smoking Gun came out with a story, reading "US Olympian's Secret Life as Las Vegas Escort", that changed the world's perception of her.
She had worked as an escort for a year in Las Vegas and had conceded to the website that it was a "huge mistake" on her part. However, she does stick to that opinion.
Consequently, she lost her sponsorships, and her name was flashed across various news sites, and a book deal came out of it. Hamilton did not seem as apologetic in the book as she had seemed in the website interview.
Her memoir, Fast Girl: Running from Madness, instead of seeming apologetic for being absent to her young daughter, reads like erotica in certain parts, as she goes on to give detailed descriptions of particular encounters she had with her clients.
She had led a comfortable life being the youngest of 5 siblings in Stevens Point, Wisconsin and discovered his talent for running at 9. She attended the University of Wisconsin on a full running scholarship and met her future husband Mark there.
By her graduation, she had a five-figure contract with Reebok for the next six years. By spring 1992, she took part in Olympic trials and wrote about in Olympian, Vogue, Elle and Rolling Stone magazines. By her admission, she loved the attention.
The relationship with her family eventually got more complicated, and running became an escape for her. Her relation with her older brother Dan, who had bipolar disorder, soured further and when he committed suicide by jumping off a building, appearing for the funeral before jetting off to Albany for a promotional event. Eventually, her sisters cut her off from their lives.
She participated in the Olympics three times in 1992, 1996 and 2000, but never won a medal, but was a centre of attention when she infamously faked an injury in her last Olympic race. As she later told the BBC, once two runners passed her, she thought, "Those two girls took my dream and my life away. I remember thinking, 'I can't not win this race — that is not how I planned this."
Speaking to media outlets after her last appearance, she blamed the death of her friend, her brother and the pressure of her 1 million dollar contract with Nike as reasons for her failure; however, in her memoir, she claims an undiagnosed "broken ischium bone . . . contributed to my fall." Her career was all but over. However, it remained to be seen if she could live with the glitz and the glamour.
The Eventual Fall
She was soon bored of the life of an ordinary suburbanite in Wisconsin, and there was a strain in her marriage as her husband found it difficult to deal with her sense of entitlement.
To relive the strain of their marriage, for their 20th marriage anniversary, she persuaded her husband to have a threesome in Las Vegas. Though dubious, he finally agreed, and they hired a female escort for the night when Suzy realized how easy it would be to make money like that; she wanted that to be her life like that from then on.
She found her life "flat and stale" once they came back. A week later, she told her husband that she would go back to Vegas, this time alone, to hire a male escort. Though Mark was "visibly shaken", he went along with her plan. Sex was replacing the runner's high for her.
Within a month, her new life in Vegas had consumed her, she was earning money, shopping with clients and Mark and their daughter has all but ceased existing. The escort they had spent their first night with introduced her to one of Vegas' Premier Madames, and she did not have to look back since.
She had taken on a new persona to keep her identity anonymous, and she had all but became that other version of herself. She obsessively checked her ranking on Erotic Review and was ranked No. 2 in no time. She travelled to clients or use business trips — such as a September 2011 appearance at the Disney Exhibit Hall — as opportunities for rendezvous.
Soon, she lived in Vegas full time, and their daughter Kylie and Mark were only allowed to visit. Then in December, a journalist figured out who she was and showed up in Vegas and that was the end of that part of her life.
Favor Hamilton lives with Mark and Kylie in California now, where she works as a yoga instructor. She says that he helped her reach "deep down into my soul" to deal with her mental illness, that he helps her avoid "my triggers," and that her double life as a sex worker is all down to her bipolar disorder.
However, she firmly claims that she is not ashamed of the life she led as she writes, "I cannot pretend to feel ashamed for having done something I don't think is wrong."