Team USA swim star Ryan Lochte has made even more of an impression on audiences of the XXX Olympiad, not only with his gold medal-winning performance thus far, but the notable accessory he was prohibited from wearing on the medal stand. While a metal grill has been a signature of Lochte’s for years, it turns out his red, white, and blue piece was specially made for the 2012 Olympic Games. Lochte purchased his $25,000—roughly $1000 for each tooth—grill from noted master Paul Wall, who solidified his expertise on the subject with a verse on Nelly’s 2005 hit “Grillz.” Take a moment to let the memory of Wall, George Foreman, and a cringeworthy Bill Clinton reference wash over you.
Lochte’s fixation with the mouthpiece is yet another way he’s letting his personality shine through during these games, perpetuating his reputation as a laid-back Florida native with his audible Lil Wayne ringtones and easygoing pre-race rituals, a stark contrast from the methodical silence observed by his teammate Michael Phelps. Looking to Wall to craft his creation is like going straight to the source, and the Houston rapper hooked the Olympian up with a collection of VVS diamonds and special order custom rubies—more than happy to see someone on such a large stage promoting the jewelry many believed had gone out of style. “For mainstream America, grills went out of style. But for the hood, grills have always been in style,” Wall told MTV’s RapFix, recalling recent designs he’s made for the likes of Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and Chris Brown. We’re surprised Lochte didn’t balk upon hearing Weezy wasn’t among them.
But for Wall, making these detailed creations isn’t just business, it’s a privilege. And creating designs for Olympians who put their blood, sweat, and tears on the line for their country is his patriotic duty:
This is our way of supporting Team USA. Anybody that win a gold medal, we gonna give them a free gold grill to commemorate their gold medal. I don’t even know how to reach out to the gold medalists, but we just putting it out there. Anybody that wins a gold medal for Team USA, they are entitled to a free gold grill on us.
Hear that, Missy Franklin? Your fellow seniors at Regis Jesuit High School won’t know what to think of you come September. While Lochte’s grill is the talk of the games in 2012, we’ll have to wait and see if it truly brings the accessory back into fashion worldwide, and if the winners of Rio 2016 will be awarded with both medals and matching mouthwear. Money at these events has been spent on stranger things!