But the former track star has put some distance between her and the secret life she led for nearly a year as a $600 per hour escort in Las Vegas.
The title of Favor Hamilton’s book — “Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness” (Dey St.; hardback; $26.99, 296 pages) — is a clever double entendre. On the surface, the three-time Olympian was an international champion, a dominating runner at the University of Wisconsin who married her college sweetheart, a doting mother, a national spokeswoman for major companies and a motivational speaker.
But that was a façade. Favor Hamilton had a dark side, driven by a bipolar disorder that fueled her desire to succeed and encouraged risky behavior.
She became a Kelly girl, Las Vegas style — but Favor Hamilton was a different kind of temp. As “Kelly,” she became the No. 2 escort in Vegas, hiring herself out by the hour to satisfy the fantasies of men — and in some cases, women. And by doing so, Favor Hamilton was living the high life. More men, more sex, more money, more gifts and more perks. What else mattered?
“Being bipolar means being insatiable,” she writes.
Her husband Mark warned that her reputation would be destroyed, but Favor Hamilton ignored his pleas, still jetting to Las Vegas for weekends, meeting high roller clients and returning with rolls of cash. That is, until a website — thesmokinggun.com — outed her secret in December 2012.
It was certainly a low point, and Favor Hamilton even considered suicide.
Mental illness can be hard to diagnose, and bipolarity was a condition Favor Hamilton was unable to recognize as a young athlete.
“Fast Girl” is the story of an athlete who pushed hard to succeed and was never satisfied with the results, because every victory only raised the bar of expectations higher in her mind. Every triumph, every honor was dampened by anxiety — she would put more pressure on herself.
To maintain her running weight, Favor Hamilton developed bulimia in high school and it escalated in college.
“I didn’t think I could change my behavior around food if I was going to keep winning,” she writes, “and I knew I couldn’t stop winning.”
She rarely lost in college, winning nine NCAA titles, four outdoor championships, three indoor championships and a silver medal at the 1989 W0rld University Games in the 1,500 meter run.
“My running trumped everything else in my life, distorting my view of what was important,” Favor Hamilton writes.
Favor Hamilton competed, but did not win a medal at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Summer Olympics. In 2000, she led on the final lap of the 1,500 meters, but “the closer I got to the finish line, the more certain I was that something terrible was going to happen.
Her body “turned to stone” as she lost her lead. Then, she deliberately fell on the track and feigned an injury.
That incident came less than a year after her oldest brother Dan committed suicide in September 1999. Dan Favor also suffered from a bipolar disorder.
Favor Hamilton had her own issues, suffering from postpartum depression after her daughter’s birth in 2005 and coping with the death of her best friend. She later was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft. That drug made her “feel great.”
“Little did we know that giving a bipolar person Zoloft is worse than leaving them untreated,” Favor Hamilton writes. But that wasn’t apparent at the time. She was energetic and motivated.
“I wanted to live with a capital L,” she writes. “I wanted to live like I’d never lived before … I wanted to experiment, try new things, and have adventures far beyond our ordinary life in Madison, which now seemed too predictable and boring.”
That energy manifested itself when Favor Hamilton suggested a trip to Las Vegas as a 20th wedding anniversary celebration. The itinerary would include skydiving and hiring an escort for a threesome.
For one hour and a cost of $1,000 for that threesome, a light went on for Favor Hamilton.
“As far as I was concerned, this was the perfect anniversary celebration,” she writes.
But instead of rekindling her marriage, Favor Hamilton felt a different fire burning. She returned to Vegas for more fun with escorts, hiring a gigolo and eventually moving toward becoming an escort herself.
Readers expecting prose out of a Harold Robbins novel or the Penthouse Forum in “Fast Girl” will be disappointed. Favor Hamilton writes tastefully and discreetly about her experiences, giving enough detail to set the scene but never resorting to overly graphic descriptions.
Even though she told a few clients some facts about herself, Favor Hamilton naively believed that they would maintain a discreet silence. That belief blew up when a disgruntled client contacted the Smoking Gun and put them on her story.
Now a certified yoga instructor at age 47, Favor Hamilton has moved to California with her husband and daughter. Despite the notoriety caused by her moonlighting as an escort, she is upbeat and ready to move on. Telling her story has been therapeutic, and even though she has been embarrassed, she does not feel shame.
“That is my greatest hope for this book, to put an end to shame,” she writes. “I am myself living the life I want, not the one that others expect from me or the one that I created out of fantasy and confusion.”
“Fast Girl” delivers a strong message about mental illness and how an untreated bipolar disorder “is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.”
Favor Hamilton was able to defuse her bipolarity, and she is ready to go the distance and cope with life.