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Lolo Jones' attempt at humor backfires

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POSTED June 18, 2013 10:55 p.m.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lolo Jones' attempt at humor in a video that's gone viral received a chilly reception from some members of the bobsledding community.

Like that, the U.S. hurdler who also recently picked up bobsled finds herself under scrutiny again.

Jones posted a Vine video in which she pokes fun at a check she received for $741.84 as prize money from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. In the spoof, she picks up the phone and says, "I'm going to be a little bit late on my rent."

Now, instead of fully concentrating on the U.S. track and field championships this week in her hometown, she's explaining herself. She insisted it was simply a joke and she said she has already talked to some of her bobsledding teammates.

"None of the girl teammates I work with took offense," Jones said.

Still, money is a delicate topic to some athletes.

"We knew Lolo's video was intended to be fun, but we also recognized that it might be a sensitive topic for many of our athletes," USBSF spokeswoman Amanda Bird said in an email. "Our athletes have so much pride in representing their country while competing in a sport they love, and they really do dedicate every second, minute and hour for just the chance to win an Olympic medal. It's incredibly honorable."

Jones may be new to the bobsled, but she's rapidly making progress in her bid to make the team for the Sochi Games. She helped the U.S. bobsled team win gold in the combined bobsled-skeleton team event at the world championships in Switzerland in January. She also discovered she was setting personal training bests after pushing around a 400-pound sled for months.

She's hoping it carries over to the track this week — and for years to come. Jones is determined to make the Olympic team for Rio in 2016.

"We work hard in track, but the way they work in bobsled, it's just baffling," Jones said. "I was incredibly strong after the season."

Sometimes, her quick wit can land her in hot water on social media.

"If I knew a secret on how to make a tweet or a Facebook post that would please everybody, I'd be a millionaire," Jones said. "Everybody has a different sense of humor. I think that's a subject that athletes struggle with all the time — they want to open their lives up to people, but at the same time, they'll get scrutinized for anything. Anything could be misconstrued.

"You walk a fine border of showing people who you are and just doing the PG, plain tweets where you show nothing at all."

Her tweets over the years have typically been funny and insightful. But some have put her in the spotlight, like this one. In the video, she shows the check and then says, "Seven months with bobsled season. The whole season. That's it?"

"I don't think this is the biggest mishap I've ever had," she said of her video post.

That may have been when she trash-talked about head injuries to former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand after he jokingly challenged her to a race on Twitter. What she didn't know was the defensive tackle was paralyzed in a game.  LeGrand tweeted that he understood what happened and didn't take it personally, saying, "All good."

Although many popular athletes get their share of scrutiny, Jones seems to receive more than most. She's been ripped for everything from her posts to having lucrative sponsorship deals despite not having a cache of gold medals to justify such contracts.

She's taken all the criticism in stride.

"You have to take the pros with the cons. I do that with everything in life," Jones said. "The pros are I can get subjects that aren't talked about out there. The cons are it may hit high publicity traffic areas and I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm trying to prepare for U.S. championships. I'm just trying to make you laugh.'"

Thinking about staying off social media?

"I've seen many athletes ... quit their Twitter account," she said. "They just washed their hands and walked away. I would think about it. I sometimes wonder, 'Is that a day when they were stress relieved?'"

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