EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Lochte Hopes Competing on 'Dancing With the Stars' Will Give Him a Second Chance With Fans
By Desiree Murphy
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Ryan Lochte hopes his time on Dancing With the Stars will prove to be much more than just taking home the coveted mirror ball trophy.
ET caught up with the Olympic swimmer and his dance partner, Cheryl Burke, in New York City on Wednesday, where he opened up about the competition show being a second chance for him, following the backlash he received from his infamous gas station incident in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I think that's one of the things that's really going to help, me being on this show," he began. "There's so many other important things, issues going on in the world, and you know, hopefully this helps, and helps put people in a different mind perspective of me, and you know, just move on, move forward."
Lochte says he was actually approached to join season 23 of DWTS long before he made headlines for alleging he and three of his teammates were robbed at gunpoint following their impressive victories for Team USA at the Summer Olympics.
"Well, they've been asking for me to be on the [show] for, like, five years now, and with training and the Olympics, I couldn't take that time off," the 32-year-old athlete explains. "But now that I'm taking a mental break and everything, I can do the show. So, I decided I was going to do it before the Olympics, and then we finally signed the papers and everything after."
"There's no backing out," he continues. "I think it hit me, like, what? Three or four rehearsals ago? I was just like, 'Crap, I'm actually doing this show.'"
Burke says that working with Lochte has been "nothing but amazing, honestly," and she’s quite impressed that he's open to rocking the bedazzled stage costumes.
"I love working with athletes because of their work ethic and determination, and, you know, Ryan has really come in here and been vulnerable toward this whole process, which is the best thing you can do," Burke gushes. "I mean, especially as a man, like, wearing the sequins and the heels and the tight shirts and pants. You kind of have to just let it go, and have fun with this whole process. He's a hard worker and he wants to do well."
Even though Burke reveals she "had no idea" Lochte was going to be her partner, she couldn't be happier with the match-up.
"Honestly, I'm really happy to have Ryan," the 32-year-old dancer says. "He's a really great guy, and I want people to be able to see that."
"Like he said, give him a second chance," she adds. "I feel like Dancing With the Stars is all about redemption, but he's wanted to do this before that -- before all this stuff happened -- and I think he genuinely -- I'm talking as if [Ryan were not] here -- I think he genuinely does want to do well, and I hope people really see the Ryan I've seen in rehearsals the last couple weeks. So, we'll see what happens."
"I was hoping that being an athlete, and very athletic, that it would carry onto the dance floor," he concludes. "But I honestly haven't seen it. I'm still hoping."
Season 23 of Dancing With the Stars kicks off Monday, Sept. 12 on ABC. As we patiently wait to see Lochte in action on the dance floor, watch the video below to get a sneak peek look inside one of Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy's rehearsals.