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 stunning confessional via her Twitter account, following 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 Favor Hamilton, 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, in the thesmokinggun.com story.
"I do not expect people to understand," she wrote on her Twitter account. "But the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression.
"I have been seeking the help of a psychologist for the past few weeks and will continue to do so after I have put things together."
She did not return a phone call from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel but did respond to an email.
"Been dealing with this for the past few weeks," she wrote. "Highs and lows. Right now, pretty low, obviously... As you can imagine, I am being swamped at the moment."
In a Journal Sentinel profile published in July in advance of the London Olympics, Favor Hamilton talked about mental health issues with which she'd struggled 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 School and 23 Big Ten and nine NCAA track and cross-country titles at Wisconsin. As a professional, she was a seven-time U.S. champion and at one point had recorded five of the nine best-ever times by an American in the 1,500 metres. She competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games but never won a medal.
Favor Hamilton 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.
"I cannot emphasize how sorry I am to anyone I have hurt as a result of my actions and greatly appreciate the support from family and those closest to me," she wrote on Twitter. "I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter and friend."
In recent years, Favor Hamilton worked as a real-estate agent in the Madison area, 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. They paid her to run in half-marathons and road races and she stayed in shape by running three to five miles a day, five days a week.
"I feel better than I've ever felt," she told the Journal Sentinel in July. "I just know I'm happier than I've ever been. My life just keeps getting better and better."
But she also talked about the "demons" she battled off and on during her running career.
At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, she was leading the 1,500-metre final when she "hit the wall" with 200 metres to go. As runners started to pass her, she tumbled to the track and only years later admitted she had fallen intentionally.
"Coming around the (last) corner the anxiety gripped me so bad," she said. "It told my brain, 'Just fall. That's the easiest solution.'"
She had dedicated the race to her late brother, Dan Favor, a manic-depressive who had stopped taking his medications and committed suicide.
Years earlier, she developed an eating disorder after finishing second in a national race to a girl who was "severely anorexic."
"I thought, 'I guess I need to look like her,'" Favor Hamilton said.
After Kylie's birth, she developed postpartum depression, which, she said, "I feel (it) was always in me. The running was just covering it up."
When approached by a reporter from thesmokinggun.com in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel earlier this month, Favor Hamilton initially denied any connection with Haley Heston's Private Collection. But she eventually acknowledged her work as "Kelly."
"I take full responsibility for my mistakes," she said in the story on the website. "I'm not the victim and I'm not going that route. I'm owning up to what I did. I would not blame anybody except myself.
"Everybody in this world makes mistakes. I made a huge mistake. Huge."
William Bastone, a co-founder and editor of thesmokinggun.com, and the reporter who wrote the story, said his office received a tip about Favor Hamilton about six weeks ago. Bastone said that, while he was familiar with some well-known female track and field athletes, he had no idea who Hamilton was.
He said he met with her twice in Las Vegas and later spoke to her by phone before the story was published. He said she asked him to give her time to alert people she worked with and associated with that a story was imminent.
"I attempted to give her as much of a voice in the piece as possible," Bastone said. "I think we also tried to avoid some of the more salacious details and narratives and reviews that clients posted about her."
Bastone said he did not believe Hamilton worked for the escort service because of financial troubles.
"She doesn't fit the mould," Bastone said. "She's a public figure. She's known in certain circles. That doesn't fit the average woman working with operations like this."
Bastone said he was surprised that Hamilton shared information with some of her clients.
"She was very careless in terms of talking about herself, telling guys her name, her date of birth, her athletic exploits, even telling guys her real name," he said. "She gave other people biographical details that were very easy to figure out who she was."
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 of her other 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."
In thesmokinggun.com story, Favor Hamilton said she never considered the legal ramifications of working as a "provider," the code word for escort. Johns are called "hobbyists." Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas and in the other cities in which her cash-only "dates" were arranged by Haley Heston's.
The escort service earlier this month deleted photos of "Kelly" from its website, apparently at Favor Hamilton's request. The photos depicted "Kelly" posing in lingerie and heels in Las Vegas hotel rooms, including a suite at Steve Wynn's Encore. In most photos, Favor Hamilton was seen with her back to the camera.
"Kelly's" profile noted that she provided "full GFE," slang for "girlfriend experience," and that clients would be charged an additional $300 for particular sex acts.
Her secret life exposed, Favor Hamilton knows the fallout is just beginning.
Dan Cruz, a spokesman for the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Series, which worked with Hamilton at four or five running events, said the group would no longer be working with her, saying:
"We are shocked, embarrassed and deeply saddened by the recent reports that Suzy Favor Hamilton lived a double life as an escort. Admittedly this was a part of a secret life that she did not share with those, like us, that she worked with in her capacity as a former world-class athlete."
As for Favor Hamilton, she concluded her email to the Journal Sentinel: "I am so sorry for all of this."
-- McClatchey News Service