Ryan Lochte Talks 'Very Big Mistake' in Rio, 'Dancing With the Stars': Everyone's 'Blowing This Way Out of Pro
By Antoinette Bueno
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Ryan Lochte is ready to put his headline-making incident in Rio behind him.
The 32-year-old Olympic swimmer appeared on Good Morning America on Tuesday, when he acknowledged that he "made a very big mistake" when he claimed he was robbed in Rio. He also made it clear that he's more than ready to move on from the scandal. Lochte will be back in the public eye when he competes in season 23 of Dancing With the Stars.
"You know, I think that it was still hours after the incident and I’m not one to make excuses, but I was still intoxicated, was going through the motions of having a gun pulled on me," Lochte answered when asked directly why he lied. "I’m human. I made a mistake and that's something I'm going to have to live with."
Lochte insisted that the only part of the story that he over exaggerated was having a gun pulled to his head, and that reports that he and three of his teammates -- Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen -- vandalized a bathroom were "absurd." The swimmer also offered to pay Feigen's $10,800 fine if Feigen will allow him to.
Still, Lochte was defensive when asked about those who say he "embarrassed [his] country."
"I think it's everyone blowing this way out of proportion," he said. "I think that's what happened. And you know, like I said, I did lie about that one part, and I take full responsibility. I'm human. I made a mistake -- a very big mistake. And it's something that I learned from, and I know that that will never happen again."
Lochte says he actually signed up for Dancing With the Stars before the incident in Rio, and that he has a "great team" dealing with all his current legal issues that might interrupt his ability to compete.
"We're just trying to get this over with," he said. "I mean, it's been dragged out way too long and the media's taken this to a whole new level. And I just want to put this behind me and move on, and move forward. And I think the rest of the world wants that too."
Lochte says it's the support of his fans, friends, and family that have kept him going through an emotional time. The 12-time Olympic medalist has been dropped by four sponsors, and has also been the butt of jokes -- most recently, when Jimmy Fallon impersonated him on Sunday night at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.
"The past two weeks have been the lowest in my life," he acknowledges. "It's been really hard, but the fans, my family, my friends -- they've all been really positive, keeping me going. And that is what I want to do. And this is perfect with the show. I want to put that behind me."
"I'm never one to dwell on the past," he adds. "I just want to move forward. I want the whole world to move forward."