How Suzy Favor Hamilton Went From US Olympian to Las Vegas Escort

PHOTO: Suzy Favor Hamilton is seen here in this undated photo from her days as a Las Vegas escort before she was found out.PlayCourtesy Suzy Favor Hamilton
WATCH Suzy Favor Hamilton's Secret Struggles Despite Success on Track

By day, Suzy Favor Hamilton was a three-time Olympian making celebrity appearances.

By night, Hamilton became Kelly Lundy, a Las Vegas escort making $600 an hour for her services.

In what turned out to be in part the result of a misdiagnosis of depression and a prescription for antidepressants, Hamilton led a double life in Las Vegas while her husband Mark Hamilton was left to take care of their daughter Kylie.

Hamilton, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is now moving forward with her life since her secret was exposed in 2012. She describes her journey to recovery in her book, “Fast Girl,” which was released on Sept. 14, 2015.

“I want to be me. I want to be confident in living a great life now, and living what I once thought was a boring life actually in reality is the best life,” Hamilton, now 47, told ABC News’ “20/20.”

PHOTO: Suzy Favor Hamilton is pictured here with her older brother Dan Favor, who, after years of struggling with mental illness, committed suicide in 1999.Courtesy of Suzy Favor Hamilton
Suzy Favor Hamilton is pictured here with her older brother Dan Favor, who, after years of struggling with mental illness, committed suicide in 1999.

1970’s: Suzy Discovers a Passion for Running

Growing up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in the early 1970’s, Suzy Favor Hamilton was one of four children.

Though they appeared to be a picture perfect family, Hamilton said her parents didn't talk about her brother Dan’s bipolar disorder.

“It was very difficult. I didn’t understand his behavior,” Hamilton said. “I think growing up in that time, we didn’t talk about things.”

Hamilton said she searched for a way to ease her parent’s pain by attempting to be the perfect child. She discovered that not only was she good at running track, but it was also a solution.

“Because if I won for my family, everybody would be happy, and we would be perfect. And it would take the pain away from what is happening with my brother,” said Hamilton.

With her father’s support, Hamilton became a high school running star and local hero. She was recruited by 200 colleges, and eventually chose University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she continued to earn numerous victories and trophies.

PHOTO: Suzy Favor Hamilton attended University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she ran Womens Track & Field and won nine NCAA championships and a silver medal at the 1989 World University Games.Courtesy of Suzy Favor Hamilton
Suzy Favor Hamilton attended University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she ran Women's Track & Field and won nine NCAA championships and a silver medal at the 1989 World University Games.

January 1987: Suzy Meets Her Husband Mark in College

Mark Hamilton, who was at the same college on a baseball scholarship, began dating Suzy Favor Hamilton their freshman year.

With all the attention from her local supporters, Suzy said the need for perfection left her with an anxiety to win.

“The community, my hometown, was all watching me. They were all expecting me to win,” Suzy said. “It kept building into bad behaviors. I developed an eating disorder, because if I was thinner and lighter, I perceived that I would run faster.”

Her body issues became worse when Suzy said she learned from a friend that a coach videotaped her breasts as she ran and showed the footage to a group of male athletes.

“I had a breast reduction because I thought my boobs were too big for a runner. I didn’t look like the ideal runner, so I had to look the part,” said Suzy.

But with her boyfriend Mark’s help, Suzy overcame her eating disorders. She became the first person in college history to earn nine NCAA titles.

PHOTO: Suzy Favor Hamilton and Mark Hamilton were married a week after they graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison.Courtesy of Suzy Favor Hamilton
Suzy Favor Hamilton and Mark Hamilton were married a week after they graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

1999: Suzy’s Brother Passes Away

Mark and Suzy married the week after graduation. Soon after, Suzy began devoting herself to making her Olympic dreams come true and earned corporate sponsorships from companies who thought she could win Olympic gold.

However, a year later at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Suzy didn’t get past the first heat of 1,500 meters. She made her second go at the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but again didn’t earn a medal.

“She wound up just running the 800 meters, which wasn’t her best event,” Mark told “20/20.”

With the 2000 Olympics approaching, Suzy had one more chance to prove her doubters wrong. She won titles in the U.S. and abroad. But in 1999, after years of mental illness, Suzy’s brother Dan killed himself.

“When he passed away, Suzy was devastated of course. But she wanted to do something for the family, make everybody happy,” Mark said. “How is she going to rescue things? That's the way she looked at it. She was devastated, but her focus changed quite quickly.”

PHOTO: Suzy Favor-Hamilton lays on the track from over exertion after the womens 1500 meter race during the Olympics at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, on Sept. 30, 2000. Getty Images
Suzy Favor-Hamilton lays on the track from over exertion after the womens' 1500 meter race during the Olympics at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, on Sept. 30, 2000.

September 2000: Suzy Has a Panic Attack at the Sydney Olympics

Suzy headed to the 2000 Sydney Olympics determined to win a gold medal in her brother’s honor. But as she approached the starting line for Women’s 1500 meters, Suzy said she couldn’t wait for the race to be over.

“I'm leading the race, which I can't believe, and in total anxiety panic attack with 200 meters to go. It's like running with cement blocks on your legs attached to you,” Suzy recalled.

As runners passed her, Suzy saw the dream of having an Olympic medal was gone. With cameras rolling, Suzy collapsed onto the red turf.

“Instead of finishing the race like most runners would, I told myself, ‘Just fall.’ And I fell immediately,” said Suzy.

Once across the finish line, doctors rushed to hydrate her, and she fainted as fellow runners tried to help. But Suzy said she was just acting and didn’t admit for a long time that she deliberately fell.

“I pretended I was injured, and I remember thinking, again, ‘You’re the worst person in the world. Look at what you just did. You blew it. You’re an idiot,’” Suzy said.

PHOTO: Suzy Favor Hamilton and her husband Mark Hamilton are pictured together in happier times.Courtesy of Suzy Favor Hamilton
Suzy Favor Hamilton and her husband Mark Hamilton are pictured together in happier times.

September 2005: Suzy Has Her Baby Kylie

Suzy returned to Wisconsin ashamed of her loss at the Olympics.

“I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want anybody to see me,” she said. “It took me weeks before I could leave the house. I was so paranoid that everybody in the community knew that I had just failed and I had let them all down.”

When she got pregnant with her daughter Kylie, Suzy saw motherhood as an opportunity to finally end her running career. But her husband said Suzy went into a deeper descent into anxiety and obsession after Kylie’s birth.

“It got unhealthy pretty quickly, where she couldn't let [Kylie] go. She couldn't go out of the house. She had to hold Kylie all the time,” Mark said.

Suzy said she started to despise her new job in real estate, and she even contemplated suicide. Mark insisted she get medical help, and after trying various antidepressants, Suzy said she found one that made her feel good and outgoing.

But with all their fighting and lack of communication, Mark and Suzy’s marriage was at an all-time low.

To add a spark to their relationship, Suzy suggested they take a trip to Las Vegas for skydiving and to have a threesome for their 20th anniversary.

“[Those] were two things I never thought we would do,” Mark said.

“It felt like I was living life and I kind of felt like, ‘Why isn’t everybody else doing this? Why isn’t everybody living life to the fullest?’” Suzy said.

PHOTO: Suzy Favor Hamilton is seen here in this undated photo from her days as a Las Vegas escort before she was found out.Courtesy Suzy Favor Hamilton
Suzy Favor Hamilton is seen here in this undated photo from her days as a Las Vegas escort before she was found out.

May 2011: Suzy Begins Her Life in Las Vegas

After skydiving and having a sexual experience with another woman, which Mark saw as a one-time occurrence, the couple returned to Wisconsin. But within months, Suzy told Mark she wanted to return to Las Vegas alone.

“She’s kind of living her life. I’m living mine,” Mark said. “I don’t think I had a heck of a lot of say, but at least she’s not cheating on me.”

Back in Las Vegas, Suzy, who had only ever had sex with her husband before, hired a male escort.

“I remember telling him, ‘You're the second guy I've ever had sex with.’ And he said, ‘Oh my gosh, what a waste. You need to do this more.’ And I was hooked,” Suzy said.

Suzy began going to Las Vegas every month and picking up men for sex. Eventually, she decided that she shouldn’t have to pay for sex, but that someone should pay her. Suzy then called Jamie Rodman, the owner of a successful escort firm.

Suzy advertised her services on Rodman’s website under the name Kelly Lundy for $600 an hour.

“I had lost control after that first appointment. I wanted more,” Suzy said.

Suzy went on to make celebrity appearances during the daytime, and at night, she would go to Las Vegas to make her escort appointments. She even convinced Mark to purchase a condo in Las Vegas so she wouldn’t have to spend so much money on hotel rooms.

“I also thought there was a safety factor. I thought it would be a little safer for her to actually have a base as opposed to hopping around from hotel to hotel,” Mark said.

Suzy later became the number two high-priced Las Vegas escort on a website called the Erotic Review.

VIDEO: Suzy Favor Hamilton Jumps on Stage, Dances Moments Before Escort Identity Reveal Play
Suzy Favor Hamilton Jumps on Stage, Dances Moments Before Escort Identity Reveal

December 2012: Suzy’s Secret Is Revealed

In Wisconsin, Mark became a single parent raising Kylie.

“After months of this, I was like, ‘Go. Get out of the house. Let Kylie and I have our normal life,” Mark said.

Suzy became careless in the months after her first escort job, forgetting personal items in clients’ rooms and even telling a few customers her real name.

After a Rock-N-Roll Marathon event appearance in December 2012, Suzy, who had an escort appointment with a client that night, returned to her condo where she encountered William Bastone, an investigative journalist and co-founder of a website called The Smoking Gun.

“I about wanted to just die at that moment, ‘cause I knew that name, and I knew my life was probably over,” Suzy said.

Suzy said she tried to deny working as an escort, but Bastone had so much evidence that she could no longer lie. The story revealing her double life as Kelly Lundy broke two weeks later while Suzy and her family were visiting Mark’s parents in California for Christmas.

Hate mail poured in, Suzy said. Mark said he felt it was only a matter of time until they divorced. One day while on a drive, Mark said Suzy appeared to be on the verge attempting to kill herself by trying to open the car door and throw herself out.

“He slammed on the brakes, and my head just bashed right into the console of the car. And everything from there is more of a blur to me,” Suzy said.

January 2013: Suzy Is Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

At the end of his wits, Mark called the family doctor. Within the next few days, Suzy talked to a psychiatrist.

Suzy was diagnosed as bipolar, the same mental illness that affected her brother. Because of the antidepressants Suzy was taking, Claudia Reardon, one of Suzy’s doctors, said the results were catastrophic.

“In someone with bipolar disorder, you give them an antidepressant and it lifts their mood, but they don’t have as much of a ceiling on their mood and so it can push their mood too high,” Dr. Reardon told “20/20.” “We often see symptoms such as hyper sexuality, spending lots of money, engaging in lots of reckless kinds of behaviors because people generally aren’t in the state of mind to think through ahead to the consequences of those kinds of behaviors.”

Suzy said she was shocked to learn of her diagnosis and had never been educated about bipolar and the symptoms.

“It started making more sense,” Mark said.

“I know it wasn’t Suzy. I keep trying to emphasize that wasn’t me. It was the disease,” Suzy said.

Three-time Olympic athlete Suzy Favor Hamilton talks with ABC News 20/20 about her new memoir and why she worked as a Las Vegas escort.ABC News
Three-time Olympic athlete Suzy Favor Hamilton talks with ABC News' "20/20" about her new memoir and why she worked as a Las Vegas escort.

Present: What Suzy’s Life Is Like Today

According to Dr. Reardon, Suzy’s behavior was in part the result of a misdiagnosis of depression and a prescription for antidepressants.

If a patient suffering from bipolar disorder takes an antidepressant, Reardon said there is no limit to how high their mood can be elevated.

“It can push them above and beyond the normal state all the way to the opposite extreme of mania,” Reardon explained.

Suzy kept some of the designer items she bought while working as an escort. Though they remind her of her life as Kelly Lundy, she said she doesn’t fill shame “because an illness took hold.”

To get the message out about her experience, Suzy told her story in her book “Fast Girl,” which was on Sept. 14, 2015.

“The book was a huge trigger, and there were a few times that I cried and cried and just wanted it all to go away,” Suzy said. “It's not just about an Olympic athlete who becomes an escort. There's so much more to it than telling it. I know in the long run had to be done 'cause I had to be the one to tell the narrative.”

Mark said he believes he and Suzy “have a chance” at getting back to a great marriage and are working together. One of Suzy’s hardest moments was explaining to her 10-year-old daughter what she and Mark went through.

“No matter what, my story will get positive and negative [responses],” Suzy said. “Hopefully, it will be more positive where people can really understand what I went through and understand mental illness, bring awareness to it.”

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