The first night of Dancing With The Stars proved to be a memorable one for former Olympian Ryan Lochte. While he was awaiting feedback from the judges after his first performance, two protesters ambushed Dancing With The Stars stage and interrupted the moment, forcing the show into a commercial break. The audience at home only saw judge Carrie Ann Inaba worriedly say, "Excuse me, excuse me,” just as she was beginning to deliver her critique of Lochte and his foxtrot routine, so it's no surprise that some viewers are still a bit confused. It's only fair to ask why people were protesting Lochte on Dancing With The Stars in the first place, especially if they were willing to rush the stage to do it.
BBC Worldwide Productions confirmed what happened, telling Bustle, "Two individuals stormed the dance floor tonight and were immediately subdued and escorted out of the building. The matter is now being handled by the authorities." Bustle has reached out to Ryan Lochte's people for comment, but has not yet heard back.
According to E! News, the two men wore T-shirts with a "no" symbol over Lochte's name. The protesters have been identified by the LAPD as Sam Sododeh and Barzeen Soroudi. Thanks to some video footage captured by an audience member, you can see how close the two men got to Lochte and his dancing partner Cheryl Burke. The footage captures the protesters being escorted offstage, and then pans back to four women also wearing "no" Lochte shirts. One of them was shouting what sounds like "Liar, liar!" Soon after the initial incident, the women leave. But, what gives?
Though we can't say for sure, it seems likely that the group of protesters didn't want Lochte on stage because of the controversial events that transpired during the Rio Olympics. Lochte received negative publicity after he admitted in an Aug. 20 interview with Matt Lauer — one day after posting a formal apology online — that he "over-exaggerated" a story in which he claimed that he and fellow swimmers were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. According to Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso, "No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed."
The outcry following Lochte's admission was full of both confusion and anger. People weren't sure what he had to gain by lying and ultimately saw his actions as disrespectful. According to the La Times, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters that he felt “shame and contempt” for the four swimmers involved.
It sounds like leftover feelings from the Rio incident could have been the cause of Monday's protest at Dancing With The Stars, made more evident by the woman shouting "Liar!" Either way, Lochte was noticeably shaken up. The swimmer told host Tom Bergeron that "so many feelings are going through my head right now," and added he was "a little hurt, but I came out here. I wanted to do something I'm completely not comfortable with, and I did."