Phelps: Beer Sponsor in America, Outcast in China

Michael Phelps is quickly becoming an Olympic god in America, where we plaster our heroes onto cereal boxes, because we like nice, fit people staring back at us when we stuff our faces with high fructose corn syrup. Mmmm! Athleticism!

Still, this strikes one as a questionable ad strategy: Anheuser-Busch openly admitted to CNBC’s Darren Rovell that they would still consider marketing the champion swimmer — even though Phelps was arrested for DUI in November.

“Obviously, we would look at the total picture–the total character,” Ponturo said. “His determination, inspiration, what he’s doing, you know you would put all the into that decision making.”

As Rovell says, if beer companies are willing to latch themselves to Phelps, any brand will.

In the meantime, China is not so enthusiastic. As Phelps takes gold medal after gold medal in their own backyard, the Chinese have largely ignored his events, leaving open seats at the Water Cube and showering most of their attention on pre-Olympics stars like the U.S. men’s basketball team.

What’s more, even Chinese media are censoring themselves — or being censored — over the swimmer:

Late last year, or early this year, Brownell said, her colleague, Yi Jiandong, wrote a blog on a popular Web site about how many medals Phelps might win, which brought a vehement response. “It incited a lot of attacks on him from ultranationalists, who thought that by simply describing Phelps’s quest, he was saying the U.S. was better than China,” Brownell said, adding that the blog was eventually removed from the site, QZone.

Ah, China - where the fireworks are CGI, little girls are lip-syncing, and even the mention of another country’s theoretical accomplishments brings censorship and shame. Why are the Olympics there again?