'Dancing With the Stars' Re-Evaluating Security Following Ryan Lochte Incident

Ryan_Lochte_DWTS_Shocked - H 2016

Ryan_Lochte_DWTS_Shocked - H 2016

The production team behind Dancing With the Stars is taking a closer look at its security after anti-Ryan Lochte protesters rushed the stage during Monday's season 23 premiere.

Two men in the audience who were wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts rushed the stage in an attempt to get to Lochte moments after he performed and were quickly tackled to the ground by security. According to the Associated Press, the two men, identified as Sam Sotoodeh, 59, and Barzeen Soroudi, 25, were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing, booked and held on $1,000 bail each. No one was injured or listed as a victim in the incident.

“The safety and security of our cast, crew and studio audience is of utmost importance," a BBC Worldwide Productions spokesperson said in a statement. "A full evaluation of security procedures/protocols is taking place and we will make any changes deemed necessary.”

Although the incident occurred off-camera while Lochte and his dancing partner, Cheryl Burke, were receiving their critiques from the judges, multiple audience members took to social media almost immediately following, including Robert Mills, ABC's head of alternative programming.


Thanks to social media accounts, some of which included photos and video, news broke about the security issue at roughly 7 p.m. PT, an hour before the show's West Coast premiere.

Ratings in the adults ages 18-49 demo were up 25 percent for Monday's season premiere. The two-hour telecast nabbed a 2.6 rating and 13.7 million viewers overall.

ABC was on top of the security breach Tuesday morning when longtime series host Tom Bergeron appeared on Good Morning America to discuss what happened. In addition to Bergeron's interview, GMA also showed exclusive video from the incident:

The protests are believed to be related to Lochte's recent Rio de Janeiro scandal. Heading into the current season of Dancing With the Stars, the Olympic swimmer has been at the center of a media firestorm and has been criticized heavily for his admission that he lied about being robbed at gunpoint while at the 2016 Rio Games. Lochte has since been suspended for 10 months by USA Swimming and the United States Olympics Committee, in addition to losing major endorsement deals with Speedo and Ralph Lauren, among others.

On Wednesday, Lochte finally spoke out about the incident in an Instagram post and specifically thanked the security team, among others at the production.


A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

Lochte is hardly the first to attempt to use Dancing With the Stars to repair his image. Celebrity chef Paula Deen went on the show shortly after she came under fire for admitting to using racial slurs in the past. Duck Dynasty star Sadie Robertson came in second place on the show after her grandfather and co-star, Phil Robertson, was suspended for racist and anti-gay statements he gave in an interview. And disgraced former Texas politician Tom DeLay competed shortly after he was indicted on criminal charges of conspiracy to violate election law. (He was later convicted, but it was subsequently overturned.)

Sept. 14, 12:25 p.m.: Updated with Lochte's statement.