Newly un-blonded U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte told Matt Lauer this morning he and his fellow swimmers peed in the bushes at that gas station in Rio, during which he ripped a metal-framed poster off the wall, making a lot of noise. “I have no idea” why he destroyed the outdoor display, he added. “I was very intoxicated.. It was childish.”
Asked if fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen participated in the vandalism, Lochte originally told Lauer, “I’m not speaking for them” but, when pressed, said, “No, it was me. I’m taking full responsibility…It was childish and immature.”
Lochte denied having damaged a mirror in the gas station bathroom, a soap dispenser or the door, as station staff reported, though he added, “like I said, I was very intoxicated.” But he’s quite sure he did his urinating outside the building.
Lochte insisted that, despite being loud, belligerent and intoxicated, he posed no threat to the security guard, explaining “that’s not me.” Police at a news conference said the security guard reported pulling his gun because the American athletes got unruly.
To the people of Rio upset Lochte played into pre-game reports of violence and crime and here comes a high profile U.S. Olympic competitor with this story, Lohte offered “my deepest apologies. They put on a great Games. They did everything…and my immature, intoxicated behavior tarnished that a little.”
Bentz and Conger got yanked off a flight back to the U.S. while trying to fly out of Brazil as authorities investigated Lochte’s armed-robbery report. Feigen’s passport was returned to him so he could leave, only after paying an $11K donation to charity, for lying in his original statement to police about the incident, Lauer reminded Lochte during the interview, a portion of which aired over the weekend.
Lochte, meanwhile, already was safe and sound in the U.S., having been first to skedaddle out of Rio when authorities began to question his account of the incident. In an interview with NBC’s Billy Bush, Lochte claimed to have been pulled over and robbed by a man who had put a gun to his head. He later softened that story but continued to insist he’d been robbed at gunpoint in an interview with Lauer.
Asked how he felt when he learned his gas-station cronies had been detained in Brazil, Lochte said he felt, “hurt.”
“I let me team down. I wanted to be there. I don’t want them to think I left them dry. They’re my teammates I wanted to be there and wanted to help any way I could.”
Which he clarified, saying, “I wanted to make sure they were home safe before I came out and talked” to NBC News.
“I’m embarrassed for myself my family” and “especially those guys,” he added.
Lauer noted that, had he set the record straight in the first place, his teammates would not have suffered these indignities.
“I’m taking full responsibility. If I didn’t over-exaggerate the story to what I said when it first happened with Billy Bush and yourself…none of this would have happened.”
But, in a segment of this interview, played over the weekend, when Lauer said Rio cops called him and his teammates, not victims but “vandals,” Lochte insisted, “It’s how you want to make it look like, whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion, or us paying just for the damages. We don’t know.”
“All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”
And, when Lauer asked, “Were you robbed on Sunday morning in Rio?” Lochte responded, “I can’t answer that because I don’t know if…I was intoxicated, so all I know is there was gun pointed at us, and we were demanded to give money.”
U.S. Olympic authorities have promised further action against Lochte, Lauer added this morning.