Ryan Lochte has officially joined ABC’s upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars.”
But before we get into that, let’s take a walk down memory lane for a quick refresher on why this matters in the first place. I’m sure by now, most people have heard about what’s been termed “Lochtegate.” Olympic gold-medalist Ryan Lochte, 32, filed a false police report in Rio De Janeiro while competing in the 2016 summer games. Swimming for Team USA, he alleged that he, along with three of his fellow teammates, were robbed at gunpoint while sitting in a cab on their way home from a party. Amid suspicions surrounding the validity of the story, Lochte’s mother contacted reporters to confirm she had spoken to her son and he had, indeed, been robbed by armed men who demanded the men hand over their wallets.
Lochte took it even further by speaking with “The Today Show” host Billy Bush, saying “We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground. And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
As it turns out, none of this was true. Security camera footage soon made its way to the media, which showed the four swimmers pulling into a gas station (two hours after Lochte first alleged the incident took place) to relieve themselves while still admittedly intoxicated. Finding the door to the bathroom locked, the men kicked it in and were caught by two armed security guards. While the guards did draw their weapons, neither of them cocked or pressed a gun against Lochte’s head. They were not robbed, but rather asked to pay for the damages they caused.
After fabricating the story, he fled Brazil back to the states, leaving his three teammates behind. To his chagrin, the swimmers talked and Lochte was exposed as the mastermind behind the plan to concoct the fake story to avoid getting in trouble for their actions.
Lochte’s signature swimmer-bro catchphrase “jeah!” that once endeared him to so many couldn’t get him out of the increasingly hot water he was finding himself in. Not even when 2016 Rio spokesman Mario Andrada released a statement telling everyone to “give these kids a break…they had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on.” I mentioned above that Lochte is 32, right?
While the media continued to play softball with Lochte after finding out the truth, tossing him painfully obvious get-out-of-jail-free questions, his sponsors did not. Because of his actions, Lochte lost all four of his commercial sponsors, which includes Speedo, Ralph Lauren, Syneron-Candela (the parent company of Gentle Hair Remover) and Japanese mattress company Airweave. It is estimated this will total a $1 million loss for the swimmer. His chances of JEAH-ing back into the hearts of sponsors is unlikely, given his age; most companies are looking for fresh young athletes to promote their brands.
I suppose, then, it’s not surprising Lochte would agree to join the cast of the long-running reality dance competition. He needs the money. What is surprising is the idea that Americans are going to want to watch him, especially considering the many recent controversies over what it means to be patriotic in this country. Does he really get to jeah his way out of this like it never happened by learning how to fox trot?
I’m sure the network knew exactly what it was doing when they cast him; all press is good press, right? Love him or hate him, it’s likely more people are going to tune in to see what happens. Will he get booed? Cheered? Eliminated first? Crowned the champion? In society’s thirsty quest for all things sensational, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the show’s highest-rated season yet.
I wonder, though, if the average Joe who lives down the street filed a false police report about being robbed at gunpoint by men posing to be police officers, would his punishment equate to being invited to dance on a reality TV show?
Jeah, I didn’t think so.