Missy Franklin came home from the 2012 London Olympics with a few keepsakes. Not only did she win four gold medals (as well as one bronze), but she also got a shout-out from Justin Bieber, along with a pile of posters, CDs, T-shirts, and other merchandise from the pop superstar. In a recent interview with ESPN, 17-year-old Franklin says she now keeps her medals in a safety deposit box.
But as for the Bieber swag? She had to send all of it back, she says.
"It was really sweet of him. But it was considered a form of special treatment that could have jeopardized my amateur status," Franklin told ESPN. "I've given up way too much and sacrificed too much to keep a Justin Bieber T-shirt and lose it all. So I sent it back."
Despite a whirlwind success at the 2012 Olympics and millions in endorsement offers, Franklin has decided to keep her amateur status and swim for the University of California next year, which means that she can't accept valuable gifts. Of course, receiving messages is still OK, so Bieber doesn't have to delete his video message or the tweet he sent Franklin after her gold-medal win in July:
"heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. now im a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove" Bieber wrote.
Franklin's not the only Olympian who caught Bieber's attention. He also congratulated the U.S. women's gymnastics team after they too won the top prize.
"CONGRATS to @McKaylaMaroney @jordynmarie2013 @kyla_ross96 @Aly_Raisman @gabrielledoug on your GOLD MEDAL. #BeliebersWinGOLD #Proud …" Bieber tweeted.
The 18-year-old pop star even had a little love for his home team, tweeting to Team Canada gymnast Dominique Pegg: "@domiP3gg sorry im late 2 the party. want to let you know as a proud canadian Im always supporting you and proud of you. STAND UP CANADA! :)"
However, perhaps Bieber doesn't need to stop sending gifts to his athletically-gifted fans, as an NCAA spokesperson told USA Today that gifts aren't against the rules.
"We applaud Missy Franklin's commitment to amateurism, but Bieber Fever is allowed under NCAA rules," the NCAA's Stacey Osburn said.