From tonight till the Olympics are over Olympians are not allowed to market themselves or sell any sort of goods, endorse any product with their likeness or otherwise. If they do what the International Olympic Committee calls "ambush marketing" they are summarily penalized and the penalties are harsh.
However if the goods manufacturer, service provider or retailer is an Olympic sponsor, the marketing of the Olympian's likeness can continue.
Now, guess who wins, guess who loses?
Hint, if I am going to the Olympics and the best I can do is make it to the final in the 1500m Free and hopefully finish in 6th or 7th place, I probably don't have a high-end sponsor paying me tens of thousands of dollars to look cute and sell well. Hence, I may want to sell t-shirts of the my sexy likeness and maybe a coffee mug from my website so as to put something in my bank.
Think of it as an independent band selling t-shirts and CDs out of the trunk of their 2003 Scion XA.
From the Washington Post:
“...Absolutely terrible,” said Erika Wright, who represents Lochte. Evan Morgenstein, the chief executive of PMG Sports — whose client list includes several prominent swimmers, gymnasts, skiers and other athletes — said the USOC “has rendered these kids indentured servants. ...”
The IOC allows official association with the Games — use of the Olympic rings, images of venues and the like — to 11 “worldwide” sponsors, companies such as Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald’s. Such deals have been estimated to be worth $100 million for every four years, a period encompassing one Winter and one Summer Games.
The USOC receives 20 percent of the revenue generated from those deals. The USOC also has relationships with a long list of companies — Deloitte, Hilton, Kellogg’s, Nike, among others — that grants those companies rights to use Olympic themes in its ads domestically. Those relationships go a long way toward funding the U.S. Olympic program.