Ryan Lochte kicked off this week by bringing international media attention to crime in Rio de Janeiro. On Sunday, he said that a group of armed men robbed him, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen – three other Team USA swimmers. But things quickly took a turn since Lochte went on NBC on Sunday and said, “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.”
The Cuban-American swimmer shared his version of the events with the world. But as more information has come out, his story has taken a hit. Eventually, the police said that Lochte’s teammates admitted they lied, and #LochteGate began trending on Twitter. While the case is still unfolding, here’s a breakdown of what’s happened since Sunday:
Ileana Lochte said her son had been robbed at gunpoint.
From the very beginning, contradictory reports about what happened to Lochte and his teammates abounded. First, Lochte denied being held up at gunpoint. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the US Olympic Committee (USOC) also initially denied the incident happened. But after Ileana Lochte spoke to the media, the incident got international attention. This prompted the IOC and USOC to change their stories.
Ryan Lochte shares his story.
In an interview with Billy Bush, Lochte recounted what happened. “We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no light, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over,” he told NBC on Sunday. “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.” That day, headlines called him a victim of a crime.
Police can't find any evidence to back Lochte's story.
Ryan’s story led the Brazilian police to look into the matter. By Tuesday, they said Rio police said it had no evidence that the robbery occurred, according to the Associated Press. The police also said that the swimmers couldn’t provide any specific details because they had been too drunk. They couldn’t remember what color taxi they rode in or where the robbery took place, but later, Lochte gave his side of the story on NBC’s Today show.
That same day, The Daily Mail released security footage of Lochte and the swimmers getting back to the Olympic village.
A judge tries to confiscate Ryan Lochte's passport.
Based on police evidence and the security footage, Brazilian Judge Keyla Blank expressed doubt over Lochte’s story. “They arrived with their psychological and physical integrity unperturbed,” she wrote in her filing. She said that they seemed to be joking with each other.
By Wednesday, Blank tried to seize Ryan Lochte’s and James Feigen’s passports. Police went to the Olympic Village, but the swimming team had already moved out. USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky refused to tell the police where the swimmers were, according to The Atlantic. However, Lochte’s lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, said Lochte had already landed in the US.
Lochte sticks to his story after his teammates are questioned by police.
Unlike Lochte, Conger and Betz had their passports seized. They were taken to the police station in Rio’s Leblon neighborhood. But Lochte granted Matt Lauer an interview. According to Deadspin, Lauer said that parts of Lochte’s story had changed. For example, Lochte initially said that a man pointed a gun at his head, but he later told Lauer that it was pointed in his direction.
More contradicting stories are released.
Things really escalated on Thursday. Surveillance footage of the athletes at a gas station showed them kicking down a door and peeing outside of a gas station, despite an attendant asking one of the swimmers to stop. Police held a press conference to say the athletes made up the entire story, according to CNN. “The surveillance tapes show that there was no violence against the athlete at the gas station,” Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said. “Their claim that they are a victim of an assault or robbery of any kind of violence is not true.” Veloso said the swimmers should apologize to Rio.
Footage and eyewitness accounts seems to suggest that Lochte initiated the vandalism. And police have stated that guns were drawn in the interaction by security guards. However, they say it’s not an excessive use of force.
Everyone weighed in.
#LochteGate started trending on Twitter, and people have weighed in with humorous takes about how the swimmers’ night turned into a real-life version of The Hangover. But mostly, people are criticizing someone who comes from a place of white privilege and unnecessarily painted Brazil in a negative light. While it’s true that crime is a real problem in Rio de Janeiro, Lochte’s story received international attention. With it, came plenty of stories that singled out Brazil’s crime rates, but didn’t talk about violence at other Olympics.
Brian Winter, the vice president for policy at Americas Society and Council of the Americas, summed up why Lochte’s actions have rubbed Brazilians the wrong way. “This incident has caused so much damage to Rio’s brand abroad that I think Brazilians deserve a clear, consistent account of what happened,” he told The New York Times. “[The entire thing] has tapped into one of Brazilians’ biggest pet peeves – gringos who treat their country like a third-rate spring break destination where you can lie to the cops and get away with it.”
You can now marathon 'What Would Ryan Do?'
As Deadline reports, NBC is trying to minimize its coverage of Lochte, but Esquire Network is going in the complete opposite direction. Starting at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, it will air all episodes of Lochte’s 2013 reality show, What Would Ryan Do?
Ryan Lochte and James Feigen have been indicted.
Globo reports that Lochte and Feigen have been indicted for falsely reporting a crime. Meanwhile, sources are questioning the Brazilian police’s case.
Ryan Lochte apologizes.
Ryan Lochte posted an apology on his social media accounts, but he doesn’t seem to take back his story.
Update, August 19 at 4 p.m.: This post has been updated to add Ryan Lochte’s apology.