Lolo Jones cries in interview, media ‘ripped me to shreds’; her competitors call her out

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Olympic athlete Lolo Jones had a fourth place finish in the 100 meter hurdles, something she called “heartbreaking” after years of grueling training. Lolo was interviewed yesterday by The Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie (Which begs the question: where’s Ann Curry?! She should be doing these interviews where the guests needs comforting.) Lolo broke down crying not only about her performance at The Games, but about an opinion piece in The NY Times which called her out for playing the press and using her looks and compelling personal story for media coverage.

Jones opened up about a Saturday New York Times piece that compared her to Anna Kournikova, the former tennis pro known more for her good looks than her accomplishments on the court.

“I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a U.S. media,’’ Jones told Savannah Guthrie before fighting back tears. “They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.

“They didn’t even do their research, calling me the Anna Kournikova of track. I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles. Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there, fought hard for my country and it’s just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”

On Tuesday night, Jones tweeted that she had a “broken heart’’ after missing an Olympic medal finish by one-tenth of a second. Her disappointment followed her performance in the 2008 Olympics, when she was leading the race and clipped the ninth hurdle to finish eighth. She took no solace that the Tuesday night race was the fastest one in Olympic history, with Australia’s Sally Pearson running an Olympic-record 12.35 seconds to edge American Dawn Harper by two-hundredths of a second to win.

“Definitely, I was crushed afterwards,’’ Jones said. “I know I had the best race of my season. Not the best race of my life, but I had the best race of my year, so I just try to look at that. It doesn’t take away from the pain that I was close to once again having a medal and not getting it.”
Jones tried to find the silver lining in reaching the Olympic finals after several setbacks in the past year.

“I think it’s disappointing in one extreme as in I didn’t get the medal, but in another extreme, a year ago I was having spinal cord surgery,’’ she said. “I mean if I look at that, spinal cord surgery, two hamstring injuries and you fought through all of that, so I take time to focus on that and not the negativity I’ve received.”

Jones has drawn criticism for her openness with the media about everything from her personal life to struggles with injuries. However, she hopes that her story will inspire others to overcome adversity.

“Putting your heart out there, obviously it opens you up to a lot of negativity, but at the same time if I could just reach somebody out there,’’ she said. “Maybe there’s a little girl who thinks she can be an Olympic athlete and she sees all the things I struggled through to get here. Yeah, I didn’t walk away with a medal or run away with a medal, but I think there’s lessons to be learned when you win and lessons to be learned when you lose.’’

[From The Today Show]

I have to say, watching that interview got me teared up! I really felt bad for her. You can tell she put her heart and soul out there and that she was devastated. (I’m an emotional person and I cry while watching the athletes in the medal ceremonies too.) Lolo is a public figure, though, she needs to protect herself against criticism and learn to deal with it. She shared the story of her rough upbringing with the press, and she shared the fact that she’s a virgin. It’s easy to see why people would think that she’s trying for headlines, but in her mind she was showing that she was able to triumph over difficult circumstances. She needs to learn how to do that when it comes to setbacks in her career as well. It’s such an accomplishment to even compete in the games.

Lolo plans to compete in the 2016 Olympics, and in another interview she said she doesn’t regret doing interviews or promotion ahead of this year’s games. “The Olympics are only once every four years so you have to take advantage of all your opportunities, both to be an inspiration to people and help support your sponsors who help you. I don’t regret doing any stories or being in magazines. For me, it was a chance to do things like get tips on eating healthy and working out to people.

It’s not just the press calling out Lolo for getting a lot of attention. Her fellow American competitors, silver medal 100 meter hurdler Dawn Harper and bronze medal winner Kellie Wells were on the NBC Sports network yesterday. (Australian Sally Pearson took home gold in that event.) They had a few choice words to say about the media’s focus on Lolo, who of course didn’t end up placing.

Silver medalist Dawn Harper: I just felt as if I worked really hard to represent my country in the best way possible, and to come way with the gold medal [in 2008] and to honestly seem as if, because their favorite didn’t win all of sudden it’s just like, ‘Were going to push your story aside, and still gonna push this one.’

Bronze medalist Kellie Wells: I think that, on the podium tonight, the three girls that earned their spot and they got their medals and they worked hard and did what they needed to do, prevailed. And that’s all that really needs to be said.

[From Business Insider]

Here’s the video of that interview.

Dawn Harper, silver:

Kellie Wells, bronze:

Sally Pearson, gold:

Photo credit: WENN and Fame. I didn’t pick the worst photos of Lolo, these are just the ones we had.

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80 Responses to “Lolo Jones cries in interview, media ‘ripped me to shreds’; her competitors call her out”

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  1. gee says:

    Lolo Jones is so pretty and has a seriously great name. She needs to get an F-U media, thick skin attitude and just be great.

  2. cmc says:

    Wow, her teammates are haters for making those thinly-veiled comments about her. I’m especially surprised about Kelly Wells- I’ve read a profile about her and she had a really tough road growing up. I’ve been rooting for her specifically because she seemed so above it. That catty comment is totally out of line.

    • megs283 says:

      I didn’t see (or read) the interview, but I wonder if it’s out of context – like if the interviewer asked some stupid question like “do you think the women who won deserved it?” or “who do you think deserved the gold?” and Wells was answering that. Wells and Harper both seemed so gracious and kind in their post-race interviews on the track.

    • Merritt says:

      Except that is is clear that the teammates were calling out the media not Jones. They earned their medals, yet still the media only wants to talk about Jones. The media should stop asking them about Jones and that hasn’t happened.

      • gigi says:

        Agree. They’re talking about how the media covers the better story, not how Lolo actually did make herself the story coming into the games. I like and respect all of them, but I do think that if you put yourself out there for the press, then be prepared to get both good and bad publicity.

      • QQ says:

        I totally agree Merritt, did it sound a Bit Catty? sure but how pissed would most of us be at working so hard, having our own harrowing tale to tale ( and choosing not to, so as to not put our business out there ) WIN and Still get treated like the redheaded step cousin of the prettier more marketable media friendlier girl?

    • Samantha says:

      Imagine working so hard and devoting so much of your life to something. You put everything into it and overcome heartbreaking adversity to triumph…and the press only wants to ask you about someone else, who lost.

      Catty? Yes. But in this case, it’s understandable, IMO, and I’m a huge Lolo fan. They probably have nothing against Lolo herself, but the press ignoring their accomplishments to focus on Lolo’s loss? Shameful.

      • Ann says:

        She didn’t win, and the Olympics love a tragedy just as much as victory. The thing is, Dawn is the second American woman to hold both a gold and a silver medal in the hurdles, the first being Gail Devers. I think it was a little unfortunate that she was the lead story last time, not winning and falling and the gold medalist Dawn Harper got very little press. And no endorsements, etc. Just my two cents.

    • DottyD says:

      The interviewer did seem to push her own agenda in eliciting those remarks (and was thusly rewarded by way of all the press she herself has now received), and the pair showed restraint, IMHO, by blaming the media over the media darling.

      And, I fully agree with Gigli: when you opt to offer up your personal information — and what is more personal than telling the world you are a virgin? — and thus put yourself in the spotlight, there will be the good and the bad reactions — no one can expect only fan-like attention. It’s not plausible.

    • Me Too says:

      I saw the interview and the other interviews where both the women who actually won were completely ignored. Everything was centered around Lolo because of her appearance. In the interview where they said the people who deserved to win had won, they were pushed into it by the interviewer. Once again, everything was Lolo instead of telling them how wonderful they’d done. It must get very tiring to be good at what you do but be completely ignored because you don’t have the look that NBC wants. I HATE THE NBC OLYMPIC COVERAGE!!!!!!

  3. Dap says:

    The thing is that there are three other women who “worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race” and were ahead of Jones (not to mention the dozens of competitors who worked six days a week, every day, for four years and were behind her), and yet it’s Jones who makes the headlines. So there is some validity to both the NY times and her opponents arguments.

  4. marie says:

    I like Lolo, but honestly, I think she’s been playing the media since the Bryant Gumble HBO program. I didn’t really know who she was before then, but after that she was everywhere. Not that there’s a problem with that, but she has to realize not everyone’s going to like her or do fluff pieces about her.. I wish all the Americans would have placed but it didn’t happen..

    Harper and Wells are right, they were given practically no coverage and deserved to be there just as much, and their stories were just as inspirational as Lolo’s story (Wells maybe more so). Everyone in that race worked their tails off to win, no one showed up to place fourth..

  5. CF says:

    Lolo put herself out there for all this. she wanted the endorsements and the fame, so she does the interviews about how keeping her viriginity is harder than track. which is fine, keep all that money, but when you say stuff like that you gotta realize people are gonna say stuff when u dont win

    • EmmaStoneWannabe says:

      That’s right. She knows exactly what she is doing: building her name into a brand. I can’t blame her for wanting to turn her story into an endorsement-filled career. Even if you don’t agree with some of her choices or the media’s coverage of her, you have to agree she is a smart business woman, looking out for herself at the end of the day. If it wasnt her, it would be someone else.

  6. Dana M says:

    She also posed semi nude and I’m sure it was by choice, not forced. If she didn’t want media attention, she should have never done the photo shoot.

    • Pix says:

      I have a problem with the double standard. Why is it OK for Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte to pose “semi-nude” to showcase their athleticism, but not okay for Lolo?

      If you read the NY Times article, it is more than media attention. It is a misogynistic bullet to the heart of a great female athlete. Win or lose, she is an amazing athlete and she should be celebrated for her accomplishments.

      • sans says:

        This is so true. Every male athlete (ahem, Ryan Lochte) is out there trying to turn their careers into financial and personal gains. That’s the business and they work hard to be in it, knowing that there years of competition aren’t going to last forever. But when this woman dares to try and get hers, she’s criticized. This is exactly the same as Gabby Douglass’ hair being criticized, or that other poor girl who is got flack for not looking happy after she got the silver instead of the gold. Some people just can’t stand women going after what they want without shame or deference.

      • michkabibbles says:

        totally agree with your assessment of the NY times article. the way women are treated in sports is so different from men.
        michael phelps made 40 million dollars in endorsements last year (a non-olympic year!), but i hardly hear anything about that.
        here’s an interesting related article from fox sports

      • DottyD says:

        But the difference is neither Michael nor Ryan are crying about the attention they received and which ALSO covers the spectrum of very good and very bad.

        I think that’s the point that Pix seems to be making; Don’t pose semi-nude if you don’t want the relevant ensuing attention and to be covered for your looks or sexuality over your athletic prowess.

    • ZenB!tch says:

      The only reason I have a problem with her posing semi-nude is the “I’m a virgin” thing. Is it one or the other?

      Ryan Lochte who I have issues with and posted about below, didn’t say he was a virgin before posing semi-nude. I can’t get past Michael Phelps fugly face so I don’t really want to know what he is up to – nude or sex wise. There is a limit to “butter face” and he passes it.

      Oh and that girl who was all bitchy about “only” winning a silver and almost refused to hug the other athletes. I did not feel sorry for her. She was a royal bitch. She was second in the world. One of the women in track put it well. She said that of course she was disappointed she didn’t win a gold but she won a bronze she is the 3rd best in the entire world and she is not going to complain about that. I wish I had paid attention to her name but I am not really interested in athletes overall.

  7. LAK says:

    on the one hand, the tough upbringing is an inspirational story for those with tough upbringings. One the other hand, her sex life…TMI her business, not mine. I don’t need to be in her bedroom and vice versa.

  8. paola says:

    journalists are a$$holes. case closed. I am a marathonist, i used to run for my country until i had major knee surgery and that meant i could still run but not be under the stress of the international circuit and no more than working out 3 days per week. I had to go back to college and finish my studies and everytime i watch the olympics i always think i could have been there. My brother went to Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, he’s a wrestler, he was under so much pressure that he came back with the need to see a psychologist. Athletes work very hard to get there, i used to run 25 miles per day, i really loved doing it but you need love and support from your people and that includes the media, but if you fail they’re always ready to dig in saying you were not good enough, not quick enough and just because you’re pretty it means you’re playing on that to get attention. Respect, this is all athletes ask for. Journalists are tossers, worst category ever. That’s why i don’t watch tv anymore, i don’t believe to anything they say.
    Best of luck to Lolo Jones, she is a terrific runner, very dedicated and loyal.

    • Dagny says:

      Second this. I am a female athlete who just finished competing in London (not a medalist), and I have a lot of experience with the media. Many times, they ask questions that are easy to give answers to and you can create a “formula” for interviews. However, throw in a chance for a medal and some controversial history, and they will really demand crazy things. Additionally, some people just don’t interview that well. I saw Lolo at the opening ceremonies and she seemed kind and very charismatic.

      As an elite athlete, I know that dealing with the media is best added to part of a psychological plan created before you go into the event. Many of our athletes aren’t prepared in this way, which is a shame because it is a major disadvantage in the international arena.

  9. Aussie girl says:

    Gosh these are so not good pictures of her jumping hurdles. They have Sally Pearson plasted all over the front pages of the news paper here in aus. Not the best pic especially with the crutch. These girls obviously wax!

  10. aquarius64 says:

    First, congrats to the medalists for this event. I didn’t see the coverage but if what is said is true it’s not fair. Lolo is getting camera time because she is preceived as a beauty. She has the look that can be on fashion magazines. You can see her in glamorous gowns. Apparently the media doesn’t see these other women as such therefore they don’t cover them.

    • jc126 says:

      I feel bad for Lolo J. and anyone who didn’t medal, but she came off as a whiner and being all about herself in that interview. She WAS hyped up more than other runners, and yes I do think it’s partly because of her beauty.
      I also don’t think her virginity or lack thereof is newsworthy. Or that anyone’s virginity status is public fodder. (So shut up, Tim Tebow!) Actually Lolo is kind of the Tebow of track.

    • Ann says:

      Agreed. However, if you look at those pictures of Dawn and Kelly, I think they look gorgeous. Strong, beautiful, CHAMPIONS. I am proud to have such lovely women to represent the United States.

  11. Carolyn says:

    Awesome win by Sally Pearson. Great job by Harper & Wells. There can only be 3 medal winners. Go hard or go home. Stop sooking.

  12. Boxy Lady says:

    I would be pissed too if I medaled and all the coverage went to someone who lost (unless we’re talking about the Paralympian from South Africa) but I also get what Lolo was saying that the media from her OWN country did not support her and the race hadn’t even happened yet. It’s like the US media were betting on her to fail beforehand.

  13. Viv says:

    Weirdly I didn’t think the NYT article was so bad. The author said she would have a chance to redeem herself at the Gams and show she is more than just a petty thing. If that would have been me, that article would have made me train so much harder. Lighten up, Lolo.

  14. Jill says:

    I’m sure someone has commented on it somewhere on here before, but I think she has a pretty strong resemblance to Rashida Jones.

    And her running face is intense. I always hate it when the media has to replay a person’s expression when they’re working as hard as possible physically (although I understand why they do it). I’m not saying that any of them look bad, but it’s interesting to see how different some people look performing the same task.

    I would hate to see what my expression was while giving birth, I’m sure it was pretty frightening and not nearly as “serene” as some peoples!

  15. Merritt says:

    Harper and Wells were not calling out Jones. It was pretty clear that they were calling out the media for not focusing on the medalists and instead focusing on people who did not medal. The Times article was cruel and tone deaf. It ripped Jones apart for the hype that the media created.

    The media is the problem here.

    We have seen this media fail throughout the games. When Weiber did not make the all around, all the articles were about her not making it, instead of Gabby and Aly making it. The constant claims that Mustafina from Russia is a diva, despite the fact that she was clearly a good sport in hugging her rivals and giving them a thumbs up, when it was clear that they did not speak each others language.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree, this is a media problem, not an athlete problem, and that’s how I took Harper and Wells statements too. The “journalists” are more interested in the bad, dramatic, or gossipy stuff rather than the whole, real story – which includes celebrating all of the athletes who excel, even if they aren’t as glamorous or have the most intriguing back story.

      I don’t blame Lolo for giving interviews and benefiting from public attention – this level of training and competing must be very expensive, and I don’t blame any of them for taking an opportunity when presented. And I felt very bad for her because she was clearly upset by the negativity, but unfortunately that’s the double edged sword of public attention.

  16. Amelia says:

    It shows how superficially fickle we are. A pretty face that ended a loser comes along and all these people follow her around heralding not her talents or success but her so called ‘exotic beauty’. The real winners also worked as hard she did, have their own unique personal stories and are also beautiful in their own ways. Jones confuses me when she claims to be a committed christain. I never know they are supposed to be as into their physical looks as she does.

  17. stephanie says:

    if she puts herself out there – “I’m a virgin” – come on, what business does the press have with that?! – she should be ready for some pretty digging criticism.

    I agree the media should be focused on the girls that worked hard enough to win the goal, not on the girl that spent her time tweeting and generating a media uproar.

  18. Nikzilla37 says:

    Leave LoLo alone! She rocks.

  19. Rux says:

    What da crap?! The media is kicking dirt in Lola’s face for talking about her upbringing? Let me remind them that Ms. Purple Bangs also put out there that she was raped by her Mom’s Boyfriend and that the Mom & BF died in a car crash months later. How is that different from Lola’s admissions. I think both of these girls just want to share their stories as a learning experience for others not to gain headlines; but the media needs not cherry pick from the athletes.

  20. RHONYC says:

    so GLAD you covered this!

    Sally. Pearson. was. fuggin. phenomenal!!!
    chick barely broke a sweat…her focus was just unbelievable.

    love Kellie Wells & Dawn Harper’s post interview, so bubbly, delightful & gracious. they made my heart smile.

    Lolo. you came in 4th. the end.

    that is all. :mrgreen:

    • Relli says:

      I know i watched the interview with Harper and Wells last night and I about died laughing. The end killed me. SLAM!

      And there is some truth to what they are saying. I am an Olympics fanatics i watch from opening ceremonies to the end and all the sports in between I can catch. Let just say every TV in the house is set on NBC so i don’t miss a thing and I didn’t know the US had won silver & bronze in the race Miss Jones was in.

      • TG says:

        @Relli – I should move in with you because I too am an Olympics fanatic and have to watch by myself with my little baby since my husband and step-daughter are lame. I did know that Harper and Wells had won medals too but I know what you mean. I wish they would interview gold medalists from other countries. I did not see an interview with Mustanfina in the uneven bars. They interview Usain Bolt of course but only a few get interviews. Also they ignore other sports like the women’s 1500 meteres where my girl Jenny Simpson failed to qualify. I am still upset by that. That was the one event I had been looking forward to the most. I supposed I will root for the other 2 Americans though.

  21. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    Lolo looks like Sheryl Crow :)

  22. ssa says:

    Harper and Wells were complaining about the media, not throwing shade at Lolo. I’m not going to begrudge her making money through endorsements, its the way Olympic athletes make money. But, come one, she hasn’t won a medal so she ain’t getting those endorsements for any other reason than she’s pretty. Also, she mentions being compared to Kournikova as if it were the greatest tragedy that could befall a person, rude.

  23. The Original Mia says:

    The media sucks. NBC picked out which athletes they wanted to focus on and ran their stories into the ground. Jordyn falls and Gabby soars, yet the story is all about Jordyn & how unfair it was that she didn’t get to compete. Come again?

    Same with Lolo. Have no problem with her touting her virginity, but when the narrative changed and the other girls medalled, they should have been the focus. Not Lolo.

    • apsutter says:

      Word. Couldn’t agree more with the Jordyn/Gabby comparison. NBC had hyped up Jordy for an entire year but she should not have been shocked that Aly and Gabby beat her. Gabby won at the Olympic Trials and it seemed pretty clear that Jordyn peaked at Nationals but Gabby was still getting better. NBC has the worst coverage and the gymnastic coverage is the worst of the worst.

  24. ElizabethR says:

    All I can say is that my boyfriend and I couldn’t stop laughing at Lolo’s running face in the slow-mos the other night. I said it looks like the other runners are running toward something–Lolo looks like she is running AWAY from something, LOL.

    Anyway, hopefully Lolo will prove herself to all the naysayers with gold in 2016…she just bettah keep her hilarious running face.

  25. Francesca says:

    Yeah because you didn’t live up to your own hype. There will always be someone faster, smarter and prettier than you.

  26. Diva says:

    Why are her teammates “haters” for calling her and the media out? She DIDN’T WIN so why shouldn’t the girls that actually won get the attention? NBC is playing favorites. The girl is cute but she was over hyped.

  27. apsutter says:

    I just can’t with this try-hard chick. I’m sick of the only women athletes that get any attention being the beautiful and sexy ones. She has been working the media non-stop this one. Talking about how she’s a virgin and a Christian and then she poses nude for magazine shoots. She tried hard and trained hard to win but she didnt so can we please focus on the women who outran her?

  28. EscapedConvent says:

    All of a sudden I want to change my name to Lolo.

  29. ZenB!tch says:

    Earth to Olympians: Americans won 2 out of 3 medals in that event. I don’t really care which ones. This is not an individual event to me. This is about representing one’s country. My country did really well at that event.

  30. Nina W says:

    Personally I think the media is more at fault than Lolo. Haven’t you noticed how they cherry pick athletes to focus on? Many great athletes are completely over looked and the media focuses on a select few. If you’re telegenic and articulate, as Lolo is, and in 2008 she was the heavy favorite, they will likely focus on you. Additionally, cut the athletes some slack, most of them are probably unprepared for intense media scrutiny and have had little or no coaching on that front. Sure they put themselves out there but that doesn’t mean they should be torn apart with petty criticism. And the comparison to Anna Kournakova (sp?) was odd. Lolo is not raking in Sharapova-like (or even AK-like) endorsements. She lost, she’s devastated, leave her alone.

  31. ZenB!tch says:

    To the person who mention Ryan Lochte (sp). He bugs the crap out of me. He’s moving to LA??? Why? We don’t need him here. Does he think he is pretty and that Hollywood will fawn all over him? Ask Beckham how well that turned out? Thank the Lord Michael Phelphs is fugly as sin.

  32. Mooshi says:

    Ahh, the media once again stroking racial tensions in America.

    What a tangled ugly web to weave. But man, they are getting pretty transparent now with it.

  33. forelithe says:

    wah wah wah wah wah… on both their houses

  34. John Kyllingstad says:

    Anyone besides me notice that Lolo shed no actual tears? This type of practiced pseudo-crying is as old as dirt and usually begins in early childhood as a way to gain attention or to deflect critcism for naughtiness. Lolo has obviuosly carried this manipulative technique into adulthood. Anyone doubt that she’s after attention (and money) now?). Nice try Lolo. I don’t buy it for a second.

  35. Lost respect... says:

    I just lost respect for her two competitors. It is more classy to say nothing negative about your teammate. I know the journalist was egging them on, but they don’t have to feed on that. I’m sure there is jealousy because Lolo Jones gets a lot of media attention… she is beautiful enough to be a model or actress. They are all beautiful, I think, so why be so ugly.

  36. carlino altoviti says:

    The media give to the public what the public wants and the public wants Lolo Jones, not Dawn Harper.
    This is the law of the market.

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