A reader pointed out that my old colleague, Philip Hersh, also raised the excessive hype issue about LoLo Jones on May 24, long before London.
I have to hand it to Lolo Jones, her marketing agent, Brandon Swibel, and the edgy promotional gurus at Red Bull.
I can’t think of another athlete with such a slim competitive resume becoming such a pre-Olympic star and attracting such an impressive portfolio of sponsors, including Red Bull, BP, Proctor & Gamble, Asics and Oakley.
Jones is the subject of an ESPN documentary. She was on the cover of February’s Outside magazine – which called her “Comeback Athlete of the Year” – in a rather unusual swimsuit. Featured in an HBO “Real Sports” segment that aired Tuesday in which Jones followed up on a Twitter revelation (to her 64,000 followers, 1,000 added since earlier this morning) of her virginity by saying that achieving her goal to be chaste until marriage is harder than graduating from college or training for the Olympics. (Jones has been tweeting relentlessly for a couple years about what she characterizes as a luckless love life.)
Wednesday morning, there was a blog on MTV’s web site – linked from Lolo’s personal site – titled, “Breaking Babe: Olympian and Virgin Lolo Jones.” A rewrite of the HBO 29-year-old virgin story on People.com had drawn 95 pages (95!) of comments in four hours. And the new issue of Rolling Stone splashes her picture across two pages.
“I’m always amazed that people are so willing to give up their personal life to strangers,” Mary Carrillo, who did the Jones story for HBO, told me Wednesday morning.
And what is the most noteworthy moment of Jones’ athletic career in outdoor track?
A seventh in the 100-meter high hurdles final at the 2008 Olympics.
And Hersh had a classic finish:
“But imagine what happens if Lolo has a great race in London,” Carrillo said.
I figure Virgin Airlines will become another of her sponsors.
And we all know what Madonna song will be used as background music.