MILWAUKEE — Suzy Favor Hamilton, a three-time Olympian who capitalized on her wholesome image as an elite runner, mother and wife to land lucrative endorsement deals and motivational speaking engagements, has admitted to leading a double life for the last year as a high-priced call girl.
In a confessional via her Twitter account, after a story published on thesmokinggun.com, Favor Hamilton wrote that she 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."
The 44-year-old, a Stevens Point, Wis., native and former University of Wisconsin track star, admitted to working as "Kelly Lundy" with Haley Heston's Private Collection, one of Las Vegas' premier escort services.
"I do not expect people to understand," she wrote on Twitter. "But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.
She did not return a phone call but did respond to an email: "Been dealing with this for the past few weeks. Highs and lows. Right now, pretty low, obviously. As you can imagine, I am being swamped at the moment."
In a Journal Sentinel profile in July, in advance of the London Olympics, Favor Hamilton talked about mental health issues that she had struggled with in the past, including depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.
She said she was treating her depression with the medication Zoloft and added, "I just know, for me, this is something I have to have. I don't see myself going off medications."
Favor Hamilton won 11 state titles at Stevens Point Area High and 23 Big Ten and nine NCAA track and cross-country titles at Wisconsin, leading to the Big Ten's female athlete of the year award being named in her honor. As a professional, she was a seven-time U.S. champion and at one point had five of the nine best-ever times by an American in the 1,500 meters. She competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics but never won a medal.
She still lives in Madison with her husband, former Wisconsin baseball player and college sweetheart Mark Hamilton, and their 7-year-old daughter, Kylie.
She told thesmokinggun.com, which specializes in publishing legal and other public information documents, that her husband knew about her escort work and that "he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all."
In her "Kelly" profile on the Haley Heston's website, Favor Hamilton wrote that she was a "workout fanatic" and noted that "discretion is EXTREMELY important to me, hence you will see only blurred photos of my face on this site."
She commanded $600 an hour for her services and charged $6,000 for a 24-hour period.
Beginning last December, Favor Hamilton booked scores of "dates" in Las Vegas and other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.
In recent years, she worked as a real estate agent, did promotional work for various businesses and groups and gave as many as 60 motivational speeches a year. She also represented Disney World and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.
At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she was leading the 1,500 final when she "hit the wall" with 200 meters to go. As runners started to pass, she tumbled to the track and only years later admitted she had fallen intentionally.
When approached by a reporter from thesmokinggun.com in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel this month, Favor Hamilton initially denied any connection with the escort agency. But she eventually acknowledged her work as "Kelly."
"I take full responsibility for my mistakes," she said in the story. "I'm not the victim, and I'm not going that route. … Everybody in this world makes mistakes. I made a huge mistake. Huge."
Favor Hamilton said she was "too trusting" and, in referring to a client she suspected of revealing details of their trysts to thesmokinggun.com, said, "He totally broke all the rules by outing me."
But she said she wouldn't fight back by naming him or any clients. "I don't want to be like him. Because he is scum," she said. "And I will not become scum to make myself feel good. … I would rather suffer than go that route of being vindictive."