She ran at those games to honor her brother, Dan, who committed suicide in 1999. In the 1500-meter final, Favor Hamilton was leading the race with 200 meters to go. But with runners starting to pass her, she told the Journal Sentinel she intentionally fell down, ashamed she couldn’t win a medal to honor her brother.
“Coming around that corner the anxiety gripped me so bad,” she said. “It told my brain, ‘Just fall. That’s the easiest solution. Just fall, and this all will go away.’ That was the only way out.”’
In an interview with The Smoking Gun about her double life, Favor Hamilton said that as a world-class runner she started to believe she was invincible and brought up Tiger Woods, saying, “I mean, he’s the biggest athlete ever. He obviously thought he could never get caught.”
Though Woods and Favor Hamilton experienced far different levels of success and fame, Teitelbaum, the psychologist, said their experiences aren’t so far removed.
“There’s the sense of entitlement, grandiosity, the idea you can do whatever you want without worrying about consequences,” he said. “She needed to have some way to express some other side of herself that didn’t feel as clean or wonderful or upstanding as she appeared to be.”
While living the secret life, though, Favor Hamilton couldn’t fight the temptation to tell some of her clients who she really was. She believes one of those clients eventually “outed” her — and now her alias is no longer a secret.
“Doing something like that adds to the sense of the drama,” Teitelbaum said. “And there’s always a self-destructive component. Whether it’s based on shame or guilt, it seems like, ultimately, these people find a way to self-destruct.”
Associated Press writers Jim Litke and Scott Bauer contributed to this report from Madison, Wis.