In The Nation, 2006 Winter Games luge competitor Samantha Retrosi compares the Olympics to “The Hunger Games” while discussing her own experience of being made into a voicebox for Vorizon. According to Retrosi, when corporate sponsorship falls through, many U.S. Olympic athletes are left with one back-up plan: join the Army:
The socialization of my allegiance to Verizon began the moment I was selected—as an 11-year-old—for the US development team. The culture within the US Luge Association viewed brand loyalty as integral to the survival of the organization. All of my clothing was plastered with the Verizon logo. I was not allowed near any camera without giving a visual and verbal statement of thanks to Verizon for making all of my dreams come true. I went through intensive media training each year to reinforce this allegiance—to learn how to be a better spokesperson for Verizon. During my Olympic year, I signed away my rights to use media time for just about anything other than gratitude to sponsors.