Ryan Lochte

What was the Accusation?

During the 2016 summer olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Ryan Lochte and his teammates, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen went out for a night of partying in a rio suburb. They claimed to have left the party and, while at a local gas station, were robbed at gunpoint by men who claimed to be Brazilian police officers. Lochte told the story that one of the men put a gun to his head and demanded money from his wallet. He described the incident by saying, “it’s traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country, with a language barrier, and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave.” However, video footage disputed Lochte’s claim and the Rio police had a different story to tell.  Lochte and his teammates had vandalized the gas station and two officers tried to confront them about the damages, with one of the policemen possibly brandishing a firearm.  Lochte’s disputed account, which many felt were outright lies, created an international  incident with Brazilians officials  accusing Lochte of smearing Rio’s reputation as it held one of the most important international events in Brazil’s history. Lochte would later release a statement via social media and sit down with Matt Lauer on the Today Show for an extended interview in which he apologized for his behavior.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Differentiation, Defeasibility, Mortification



Ryan Lochte Instagram Apology Post:

Ryan Lochte’s Interview on the Today Show:

Matt Lauer: “How do you feel about the way you’ve handled yourself since Sunday morning, early Sunday morning, when this all went down?”

Ryan Lochte: “You know, since everything that’s happened, I’ve kind of been laying low, just not … I mean, I had those statements. I’ve talked to you. But before I wanted to go out on camera, I wanted to really make sure those other guys came back on U.S. soil, which I just found out. That’s why I’m doing this today … Jimmy just came back. He was the last person to come back.”

Matt Lauer: “Well let me play devil’s advocate there for a second. Because had you come out and set the record straight earlier, Gunner and Jack might not have been pulled off that plane. And Jimmy not have had his passport impounded. So if you’d come forward, and done an interview like this, and told the real story earlier, couldn’t you have taken away a lot of their problems?”

Ryan Lochte: “Oh, by all means. And I think that’s … this is why I’m taking full responsibility for my actions. Because if I didn’t over-exaggerate the story … to what I said when I did it when it first happened with Billy Bush and yourself, and I told you the full story … none of this would have happened. We wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be sitting here discussing this.”

Matt Lauer: “So when you talked to Billy on Sunday afternoon, you didn’t tell him the whole truth. When you spoke with me on Wednesday night by phone, you didn’t tell me the whole truth.”

Ryan Lochte: “I left … I left details out, which, that’s why I’m in this mess, is I left certain things out. And I over-exaggerated some parts of the story.”

Matt Lauer: “One of the things you appear to have embellished with Billy when you talked to Billy is you said at some point after you refused to sit down the security guard put the gun to your forehead and cocked it. That didn’t happen?

Ryan Lochte: “That didn’t happen. And that’s why I over-exaggerated that part.”

Matt Lauer: “Why’d you do that?”

Ryan Lochte: “I don’t know why. You know, it was still hours after the incident happened. I was still intoxicated. I was still under that influence. And I’m not making … me being intoxicated … an excuse. I’m not doing that at all. I mean, it was my fault. And I shouldn’t have said that. I shouldn’t even … just kept it like, ‘I’m not… I’m not saying anything.’ But I over-exaggerated that part. And the gun was drawn but not at my forehead. It wasn’t cocked at my forehead. It was towards my general direction. And as you can see in the surveillance, that’s when my hands went up.”

Matt Lauer: “You told me on the phone, Ryan, you said, ‘We are victims here. We are victims. And we’re happy that we’re safe.’ In the police press conference, they said, ‘Not victims. They’re vandals.’ How do you feel about that?”

Ryan Lochte: “It’s how you want to … it’s how you want to make look like. Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion, or us paying just for the damages, like we don’t know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction, and we were demanded to give money.”

Matt Lauer: “And that’s a really interesting point. I want to take a little time on this. If I were to ask you the same question again right now and say, ‘Were you robbed on Sunday morning in Rio?’ how would you answer it?”

Ryan Lochte: “I can’t answer that, because I don’t know if … I was intoxicated. So I don’t know. All I know is that there was a gun pointed at us, and we were demanded to give money. Whether it was to pay for the damages of the poster, whether it was extortion, or whether it was a robbery, like, I can’t … I’m not equipped to€¦”

Matt Lauer: “Except I want to point out that Gunner in his statement to police said at some point, someone who spoke English walked over and offered to help translate this altercation. And he made it clear that the security guard was telling the four of you, ‘You need to pay for that stuff, that damage before you can leave here, or I’m going to call the police.’ You understood that at that time, didn’t you?”

Ryan Lochte: “Yeah. So then we had to give the money.”

Matt Lauer: “Right. But at that point, it’s not a robbery. At that point, you’re striking a deal. You’re striking a deal to pay for what damage you’ve caused so that he doesn’t call the police and this doesn’t become a bigger incident. Isn’t that… isn’t that fair?”

Ryan Lochte: “We just wanted to get out of there. We were held … I mean, there was as gun pointed in our direction. We were all frightened. And we wanted to get out of there as quick as possible. And the only way we knew is this guy saying, ‘You have to give him money.’ So we gave him money, and we got out.”

Matt Lauer: “That doesn’t sound like a robbery. A robbery is when some guy targets you, whether he’s armed or not, to take your money, and your belongings, and your valuables. This guy was negotiating a deal because of what had happened in that walkway. And you guys were on the other end of that negotiation.”

Ryan Lochte: “And that’s why it could be … people can see it in many different directions. All we know is that there was a gun pointed to us and we were demanded to give him money. And end of story.”

Matt Lauer: “I guess what I’m trying to get at is the first version of the story you told, Ryan, was much more about the mean streets of Rio.”

Ryan Lochte: “Yeah.”

Matt Lauer: “And the version we’re hearing now is much more about a negotiated settlement to cover up some dumb behavior.”

Ryan Lochte: “And that’s why I’m taking full responsibility for it, because I over-exaggerated that story. And if I never had done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Those guys would never be … in Rio … or were in Rio. Nothing of the … none of this would have happened. And it was my immature behavior. You know, we just finished. We were wanting to celebrate. We haven’t been drinking or anything, like, months before that. And I definitely had too much to drink that night. And I was very intoxicated. And none of this would have happened if I didn’t do that.”

Matt Lauer: “When you saw the news coverage of Gunner and Jack being taken off that plane at the airport, and you knew, and you’ve just said to me they didn’t damage anything in that gas station. And you’re sitting at home in the United States, safe and sound. How did it make you feel?”

Ryan Lochte: “Hurt. I mean, I let my team down. And, you know, I wanted to be there. Like, I don’t want them to think that I left and left them dry, because, I mean, they were my teammates. I wanted to definitely be there. And I wanted to help out any way I could. And so I just wanted to make sure that they were home safe before I came out and talked. And, you know, I’m just really sorry about … I’m embarrassed … for myself, my family, especially those guys, USA Swimming, the whole Olympic Games … everyone watching. It’s just … I was immature. And I made a stupid mistake. I’m human. I made a mistake. And I definitely learned from this. And I’m just really sorry.”

Matt Lauer: “You know, Jimmy Feigen was made to pay I think it was about $11,000 in restitution. Kind of a charitable donation because he made a false statement in his original statement to police. And the area of the false statement was, he said he was asleep in the car and he never went back in that walkway. And do you think it’s possible that Jimmy made that statement so he wouldn’t have to tell on you, that he wouldn’t have to say, ‘I saw Ryan back there tear that framed advertisement off the wall?’ Was he trying to protect you?”

Ryan Lochte: “I don’t know. All I know … I can’t speak for him. I don’t know at all. I just know that they’re back home safe. And I owe them and the entire world that had to watch this for the last week of the Olympic Games something that I understand … especially those athletes that we put all our energy and time into this. And I took away from their accomplishments about this story, about me being immature for one night. I took away from that. And that’s what I think hurts me the most, is that … all that … everyone’s just watching my immature antics. And I’m just … I’m embarrassed.”

Matt Lauer: “What about the people of Rio? You know, they deal with all the headlines going into the Games about pollution, and violence, and crime. And here comes this story with one of the highest-profile U.S. athletes saying, ‘I got held up at gunpoint on the streets of Rio.’ What would you say to them now?”

Ryan Lochte: “How sorry I am. And my deepest apologies. They put on a great Games. They did everything. The people … of Rio or Brazil, the authorities, everyone there,  they put on a great Games. And my immature, intoxicated behavior, tarnished that a little. And I don’t want that, because they did a great job. The fans were amazing. I know going out into my races they were all cheering for me. So, I mean, they were great. They hosted a great Games. And I’m just really sorry. And I hope they can accept my apology.”

Matt Lauer: “There have been calls, Ryan, by some that say you should be banned from swimming. It’s a pretty, pretty strong punishment. What do you think should happen? “

Ryan Lochte: “I mean, that’s not my call. It’s, you know, USA Swimming, the USOC. It’s the board. It’s what they decide. All I know is I learned my lesson from this. I definitely did. And I know this will never …  these kind of shenanigans or whatever you want to call it … will never happen again. And I love this sport. I mean, I dedicated my whole entire life to it. And it’s not who I am. And I’m not done with this sport if they let me be. Like, I want to … there’s still more I want to accomplish in the sport. And all I know is that I’m going to move forward from this, and learn from this, and better myself, and making sure that this never happens again.”

Matt Lauer: “I’ve been listening to some of the commentators over the last couple of days, Ryan, talking about endorsements. And they’re saying that this one poster on the wall or this one urinating in the bushes could cost you a lot of money.”

Ryan Lochte: “It could. And that’s something that I’m going to have to live with. That’s something that I’m going to have to deal with. But I know what I did was wrong. And I know I learned my lesson. And all I can do now is better myself and making sure that this kind of stuff never happens again.”

Matt Lauer: “Do you think if you stay in the sport and they allow you to keep swimming, and you go to Tokyo, and you perform well, can you begin to erase the damage to your legacy that’s been done?”

Ryan Lochte: “I think so. I know so. If they give me that chance, I definitely know I can turn this around and become that role model for little kids. I don’t want little kids to look at me for what I just did for that one night. I don’t want that. Or the whole entire United States. Or the entire world for that matter. I don’t want them to look at me, ‘He was a drunk frat boy,’ or anything like that. I don’t want that. I want to be a role model for those little kids. And I know that I can change that.”


Diamond, J. (2016, August 19). Rio Olympics: Ryan Lochte issues apology. Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/rio-olympics-ryan-lochte-issues-apology-w435338

Romero, S. (2016, August 19).  Ryan Lochte apologizes ‘for my behavior’ after Rio robbery claim. New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/20/sports/olympics/ryan-lochte-apology-rio-olympics.html

Ryan Lochte’s Instagram Post (2016, August 19). Retrieved from: https://www.instagram.com/p/BJSwyLJBoSH/

Sheinin, D., Phillips, D., & Partlow, J. (2016, August 19). Police discredit Ryan Lochte’s robbery story, say swimmers owe Rio an apology. Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/brazil-stops-two-us-olympic-swimmers-from-leaving-country-over-robbery-case/2016/08/18/5bfdee66-6540-11e6-96c0-37533479f3f5_story.html?utm_term=.3faac859b8b5

Transcript – Matt Lauer exclusive interview with Ryan Lochte (2016, August 20). NBC Sports Group.  Retrieved from: http://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com/2016/08/20/transcript-matt-lauer-exclusive-interview-with-ryan-lochte/