Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte earned Team USA's first gold medal at Saturday's men's individual 400 meter individual medley, but he's got some other bling that he's just as proud of: His American flag-themed grill.
However, Lochte's jewel encrusted stars-and-stripes accessory — worn across his top row of teeth — nearly cost him his medal, it was reported Saturday. ESPN's Wayne Drehs tweeted that the 27-year-old swim phenom was told that he wouldn't receive his gold if he wore the bling on the winners' podium.
"I can only speculate that it may have been a uniform issue, that it may not have been part of the uniform," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told USA Today, vowing to look into ESPN's initial report. Lochte put in his accessory after accepting his medal.
Made for the 2012 London Games exclusively, Lochte's grill — a "retainer filled with diamonds," the athlete has said — is his latest in a collection of specialty grills, which he has worn at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2009 World Championship in Rome, and the 2011 World Championship in Shanghai.
"I wear it when I go on the podium," the champion swimmer said in a June 2011 posted to Speedo's YouTube page. "It's just a unique way of showing personality out to everyone."
Earning a silver medal Sunday in the 4×100 freestyle relay, Lochte will go head-to-head with Michael Phelps August 1 for the second and final time in the 200-meter individual medley.
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