DECEMBER 20—A three-time U.S. Olympian whose illustrious running career has included a Nike TV commercial, a swimsuit calendar, and ongoing promotional work for Disney has spent the last year doubling as a $600-an-hour call girl, an astounding secret life that she now regretfully calls a “huge mistake.”
Beginning last December, Suzy Favor Hamilton, 44, has worked with one of Las Vegas’s premier escort services, booking scores of “dates” in Sin City and other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.
While Favor Hamilton (seen at right) has used an alias, “Kelly Lundy,” when working as an escort, she inexplicably shared her true identity with several male clients, believing that her secret was somehow safe with strangers who paid for her company by leaving envelopes stuffed with cash on bathroom vanities in swanky hotels.
When approached by a reporter earlier this month in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel, Favor Hamilton initially denied any connection with the escort service, Haley Heston’s Private Collection. But Favor Hamilton–who is married to her college sweetheart, a lawyer, and is the mother of a seven-year-old girl–eventually acknowledged her work as “Kelly.”
“I take full responsibility for my mistakes. I’m not the victim and I’m not going that route,” Favor Hamilton said. “I’m owning up to what I did. I would not blame anybody except myself.” She added, “Everybody in this world makes mistakes. I made a huge mistake. Huge.”
Favor Hamilton expressed concern that her story would be “sensationalized” by a reporter. It is hard, though, to imagine how that could occur. The actual events of the ex-Olympian's past year already seem like the fever dreams of a Lifetime producer who decided to adapt Luis Bunuel’s “Belle de Jour” for basic cable.
Favor Hamilton described the escort business as “exciting,” an illicit midlife diversion from her routine existence, one in which she operates a successful Madison, Wisconsin real estate brokerage with her husband, delivers motivational speeches, and does promotional work for various businesses and groups, including Disney’s running series and Wisconsin’s Potato & Vegetable Growers Association.
She said that only her husband Mark, 44, was aware of her escort work, but that, “He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn’t supportive of this at all.” The couple lives in a $600,000 Madison home and appears to be in no financial distress based on a review of court and municipal records.
In a July 2012 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profile, Favor Hamilton spoke of giving about 60 motivational speeches annually, raising her daughter, running her realty firm, and doing appearances for Disney and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series. “I just know I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My life just keeps getting better,” she said.
But she also spoke of her life’s darker precincts.
Favor Hamilton told of suffering postpartum depression after her child’s 2005 birth and how she had been prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft, which has allowed her to “feel better than I’ve ever felt.” Additionally, she told reporter Gary D’Amato how her brother Dan committed suicide in 1999, a year before she ran for the gold medal in the 1500-meter final at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. She led that race with 200 meters to go, but when other competitors began to pass her, Favor Hamilton recalled, she intentionally tumbled to the track, ashamed that she could not medal in honor of her late sibling.
Sitting on an outdoor bench off the Las Vegas Strip earlier this month, Favor Hamilton referenced her athletic career when a reporter asked why she thought her identity could remain cloaked–especially since she spoke openly with certain johns about her real name, running career, and business pursuits.
Favor Hamilton answered that as a world-class athlete she was conditioned to believe she was invincible, and that doubts and concerns were counterproductive thoughts. During a subsequent conversation she brought up Tiger Woods’s tumultuous fall, saying that, “I mean, he’s the biggest athlete ever. He obviously thought he could never get caught.”
Favor Hamilton also blamed herself for being “too trusting.” She expected other participants in the insular escort business–where men seeking sex are called “hobbyists” and women selling it are “providers”–to honor a code of silence. Though she seemed entirely sincere, it was nonetheless a credulous notion that client and escort were morally bound by some implicit pledge of omerta.
Why would her secret be safe with guys about whom she knew nothing (except that many were paying for sex while their spouse was back home)?
These johns slept with an attractive former Olympian, an All-American girl with a Wikipedia page and a Nike commercial on YouTube. How could they not boast about their costly Las Vegas escapades? A Google search by any of these “hobbyists” would have quickly established Favor Hamilton’s status as a public figure as well as her athletic bona fides.
As a middle distance runner, Favor Hamilton competed (but did not medal) at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Olympics. Her collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin was so dominating–she is the most decorated female athlete in NCAA track and field history–that the Big Ten Conference’s female athlete of the year award was named after her (the male equivalent honors Jesse Owens). The winner of multiple national championships, NCAA titles, and All-American awards, Favor Hamilton has appeared in national ads for Nike, Reebok, Clairol, Oakley, and Pert Plus shampoo. A 1997 swimsuit calendar included shots of the lithe athlete modeling a stars-and-stripes bikini and lounging on the sand sans top.
Referring to a client she suspected of contacting a reporter, Favor Hamilton said, “He totally broke all the rules by outing me.” But she stressed that returning fire was not her style. “I don’t want to be like him. Because he is scum. And I will not become scum to make myself feel good,” Favor Hamilton said. “I will not do it. I would suffer rather than go that route of being vindictive.”
When a reporter expressed disbelief that Favor Hamilton–a college graduate who has traveled the world, competed at track and field’s highest levels, struck endorsement deals, and built a successful legitimate business–could be so naïve, she answered, “I can’t expect you to understand, you aren’t in that world.”
She gave a similar reply when asked if she ever feared for her safety since she met clients unaccompanied by security. “Again, you don’t know this world. You’re making judgments on what you see on television or what you perceive,” she said.
Favor Hamilton said that she had been planning to quit the escort business even before learning that TSG was examining her connection to the illegal Haley Heston operation. She acknowledged contacting certain clients to “let them know I’m not doing this anymore and I’m moving on with my life. Because they’re gonna try to contact me.” She also told of recently starting therapy to “figure out myself why I’ve done what I’ve done.”
After being contacted by Favor Hamilton, one of her clients wrote a TSG reporter offering “some money to prevent [a story] from coming out…I would do anything to protect her.” In a July 2012 online review, the client–who recounted two separate encounters with “Kelly”–enthused, “She is worth every penny. I will go bankrupt before I stop seeing her. I hope no one else goes to see her, because I want her all to myself.” He added, “I never thought I would find anyone in this hobby like her.”
Favor Hamilton also claimed to never have considered possible legal complications stemming from her escort work with the Haley Heston firm. Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas and each of the cities where Favor Hamilton has had “dates” arranged by the escort company, which describes itself as “the premier Boutique Escort Agency of Las Vegas.”
Haley Heston’s Private Collection is a cash-only business operating across state lines, an enterprise whose own web site makes a tacit admission of the firm’s criminal nature. In a blog post earlier this year, the escort service assured clients that it would destroy subpoenaed records in the face of a criminal investigation (all to “ensure the highest standards of discretion”). So add obstruction of justice to a list of federal crimes like conspiracy, promoting prostitution, and money laundering that Haley Heston’s shadowy operators appear willing to commit.
Favor Hamilton declined to discuss her dealings with the escort service, which earlier this month, at her request, deleted a photo-stocked web page devoted to “Kelly.” Haley Heston, which represents 30 other call girls, also prominently featured “Kelly” on a page with photos of all its “models.” A profile of “Kelly” was also simultaneously deleted from Preferred411.com, which offers listings of escorts nationwide.
Also disappearing were all mentions of Favor Hamilton’s alter ego from The Erotic Review (TER), a web site that serves as the Zagat guide of the escort business. Before it was deleted, the “Kelly” profile page on TER included links to 35 separate reviews from “hobbyists” who recounted in explicit details their sexual encounters with Favor Hamilton.
As of early this month, “Kelly” was TER’s third-ranked “provider” in Las Vegas, a valuable market distinction that was often highlighted on the Haley Heston web site and in messages posted to the escort firm’s Twitter account. TER members grade a “provider” on both appearance and performance and provide “The Juicy Details” in narratives that are brimming with sex act acronyms (DATY, RCG, DFK) and graphic play-by-play recaps.
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Favor Hamilton’s year of living dangerously began last December, when, according to the “Kelly” profile she wrote for the Haley Heston web site, “I met Haley with the idea of fulfilling a fantasy and only doing it for the short term.” However, she added, “Well, after my first date, I was hooked, and have been doing my best to visit Las Vegas as often as my schedule allows (I run my own business in my real world life).”
The profile of “Kelly” went on to provide other actual details of Favor Hamilton’s life, noting that she was a “workout fanatic” who skied, ran marathons, and had traveled to over 20 countries. A college graduate, “Kelly” noted that “discretion is EXTREMELY important to me, hence you will only see blurred photos of my face on this site. I know this is not ideal, but I hope you understand that it is essential for me.”
Photos on the Haley Heston web site often showed “Kelly” posing in lingerie and heels inside different Las Vegas hotel rooms, including a suite at Steve Wynn’s Encore. She is often seen with her back to the camera, though some pictures have been digitally altered to obscure her face. Pointing prospective customers to her glowing online notices, she added, “Hopefully, my TER reviews speak for themselves and you can be confident that you will like what you see when I warmly greet you in person for the first time :).”
The profile also included her rates, from $600 for one hour to $6000 for a 24-hour period. “Kelly,” the site noted, provided “Full GFE,” or “girlfriend experience,” an intimate, less mechanical encounter. Additionally, the rate schedule noted, clients would be charged a $300 supplement for a particular sex act.
Favor Hamilton declined to reveal how she was introduced to Haley Heston’s Private Collection, the operators of which announced her addition to the escort service’s roster with TER posts describing her as a “high profile” former commercial model and “highly successful business woman.” Accompanying a January 2012 post was a photo of Favor Hamilton that she had taken in a mirror (and which showed half of her face).
The Haley Heston staff used subsequent TER posts and Twitter messages to keep clients apprised of their new “under the radar” escort’s 2012 “touring schedule,” listing stops in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago (both downtown and at O’Hare International Airport). A July 2012 post enthused that “Kelly” was “becoming a legend” and congratulated her for her towering TER rankings. An April Twitter post reported that “Kelly” was in Las Vegas for the next three days and had a “FABULOUS suite and wants to try out every piece of furniture in it!”
The escort business’s most valuable marketing tools, however, are the “hobbyist” reviews and rankings on the TER web site. The notices for “Kelly” were uniformly exceptional and gave a clear indication that she provided personal details about herself to clients. Many men referred to her “runner’s body,” while one john noted that “we talked about our respective high school and college athletic careers.” Another man wrote that “Kelly” was “an interesting gal with a real job” who “participates in the hobby for the same reason many of us do – it’s exciting and FUN.” He added, “She’s a midwestern gal with a midwestern upbringing and midwestern values.” In July, a Las Vegas client noted that, “She is not a full time provider (as she runs her own business in another state).”
Some of Favor Hamilton’s clients were first introduced to her at a January 2012 Haley Heston “meet and greet” held in an opulent hotel suite. The “client appreciation party” was an invitation-only affair attended by many of the escort service’s “models.”
Several of Favor Hamilton’s subsequent “tour stops” were scheduled to coincide with her travels for the Disney and Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon running series.
For example, in late-August Twitter posts, Haley Heston noted that “Kelly” would be available in Orange County, California on August 30 and 31. Favor Hamilton appeared September 1 at the Disney Exhibit Hall to provide “valuable race and training information” to runners participating in the following day’s Disneyland Half Marathon (which Favor Hamilton ran with her husband).
Haley Heston announced in a mid-October TER post that “Kelly” was making her first trip to St. Louis to see clients between October 18-20. Favor Hamilton was in the Missouri city to appear at that weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon festivities.
Most recently, the escort service posted on its web site that “Kelly” would be in Las Vegas between November 29 and December 5. Favor Hamilton arrived in town November 29 in advance of the December 2 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon race on the Strip. On November 30 and December 1 she appeared on a “panel of experts” (alongside legendary marathoners Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon) at the sprawling Sands convention center.
Favor Hamilton also did one-on-one sessions during which she donned a jog bra and a sparkly miniskirt and politely cajoled attendees at an adjacent health and fitness expo to join her onstage to wildly gyrate to Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven.” She punctuated her moves with Rockette-like kicks and appeared to be the only dancer not winded by the vigorous workout (which she reprised at the close of her presentation). Before departing the hall, Favor Hamilton happily chatted with fans and posed for photos.
When a reporter approached Favor Hamilton as she headed back to her room at the Venetian, she appeared momentarily taken aback, later explaining that while she was aware that TSG was working on a story, she had expected to receive a phone call, not a face-to-face visit.
Over the din of the nearby casino floor, Favor Hamilton admitted that she was “Kelly” and spoke of her concerns that she would be attacked as a “homewrecker.”
Appearing resigned that her baffling double life would no longer be a secret, she said, “I want to handle this like an adult.” (28 pages)