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Ryan Lochte found himself apologizing once again for his “immature behavior” in Rio.
Lochte told NBC Nightly News in an interview Saturday that “it was my immature behavior” that got him and his fellow Team USA swimmers into trouble, and he admitted he “overexaggerated” the story about the supposed gas-station robbery.
The Olympics swimmer sat down with NBC’s Matt Lauer for his first interview since he was indicted for misleading local authorities. Two days before, it was revealed that Lochte lied to officials about an alleged robbery that took place Sunday in Rio.
Portions of the interview aired on Saturday’s NBC Nightly News, and more will air on Monday’s installment of Today.
In the interview, Lauer asked Lochte how he felt about being called “vandals” by the Brazilian authorities and if he felt any guilt for his teammates. Lochte told Lauer that he’s been laying low since he got home because he wanted to make sure his teammates were home “on U.S. soil.”
Lauer asked him why he didn’t tell the “real story earlier” to help his teammates who were detained in Rio, to which Lochte responded, “This is why I’m taking full responsibility for my actions. Because if I didn’t overexaggerate the story to what I said when I did when it first happened with Billy Bush and yourself, and I told you the full story, none of this would have happened.”
When Lochte admitted that he exaggerated the part of the story with the gun, Lauer asked him why. “I don’t know why,” said Lochte simply, “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
In response to the Brazilian officials calling Lochte and his teammates “vandals,” Lochte said, “Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages — we don’t know.” He continued, “All we know is, there was a gun pointed in our direction, and we were demanded to give money.”
“We just wanted to get out of there,” he added. “There was a gun pointed in our direction, we were all frightened, and we wanted to get out of there as quick as possible.”
“I overexaggerated that story, and if I had never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Lochte told Lauer, taking responsibility for his teammates and admitting that he “definitely had too much to drink that night.”
Lochte summed it up: “It was my immature behavior.”
Lochte left Rio before his teammates, and a few of them were taken off their plane and detained. When Lauer asked the swimmer about how it felt to watch that unfold when he was already home in the U.S., Lochte said he was “hurt.”
“I let my team down,” said Lochte. “I don’t want them to think that I left and left them high and dry. They’re my teammates. I wanted to be there, and I wanted to help out in any way I could, and so I wanted to make sure they were home safe before I talked. I’m embarrassed.”
“I was immature, and I made a stupid mistake,” he told Lauer. “I definitely learned from this, and I’m really sorry.”
Lochte also apologized to his fellow Olympians for taking attention off of them and their achievements in Rio as people watched his “immature antics” instead of their medal wins, saying that “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.”
Later, in an interview with Globo TV, he apologized to the people of Rio: “Brazil doesn’t deserve that,” said Lochte, “I am sorry that my immaturity caused all this ruckus.”
Lochte had spoken with Today‘s Billy Bush early Sunday, hours after he and three other swimmers claimed they were robbed at gunpoint. Lochte also spoke to Lauer on the phone later in the week.
Despite the swimmers’ claims, officials had trouble confirming the swimmers’ accounts. It later was revealed that the four were not robbed, but instead vandalized a gas-station bathroom and got into a confrontation with a security guard, which ended with them paying an undisclosed sum for the damage. Video has since surfaced of the gas-station incident.
The fourth swimmer involved with the incident made a deal with a Brazilian judge to make a $10,800 payment and was allowed to leave the country later Friday, according to his lawyer. Lochte, who already had left Brazil by the time he was indicted, since has hired public-relations expert Matthew Hiltzik. The swimmer also apologized for his “behavior” and for “not being more careful and candid” in how he characterized what happened in a lengthy statement posted on his Instagram account on Friday.
Watch the interview below.
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