American swimmer Ryan Lochte said he over-exaggerated what happened at a Rio de Janeiro gas station and acknowledged it was his "immature behavior" that got him and three teammates into a mess.
NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - American swimmer Ryan Lochte said he over-exaggerated what happened at a Rio de Janeiro gas station and acknowledged it was his "immature behavior" that got him and three teammates into a mess that consumed the final days of the Olympics.
Lochte, in a portion of an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer that aired Saturday , continued backtracking from a story that he initially described as an armed robbery. Police have said the swimmers vandalized a bathroom after a night of partying and armed guards confronted them and asked them to pay for the damage.
"It's how you want to make it look like," Lochte said. "Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us just paying for the damages, we don't know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."
But he admitted that he understood that he was being told that the Americans had to pay for the damage or the police would be called.
At that point, Lauer said: "You're striking a deal. Is that fair?"
"We just wanted to get out of there," Lochte said, adding the swimmers were frightened.
Lauer told Lochte that his story had morphed from one about "the mean streets or Rio" to a negotiated settlement to cover up dumb behavior.
"That's why I'm taking full responsibility for it, because I over-exaggerated the story," Lochte said. "If I had never done that, we wouldn't be in this mess."
Lochte also said he had lied in telling NBC interviewer Billy Bush the next day that a gun had been cocked and pointed at his forehead. He said he was still under the influence of alcohol when he talked to Bush.
"I definitely had too much to drink that night and I was very intoxicated," he said.
Lochte also issued an apology Friday regarding his "behavior" during the Rio Games.
In his apology posted to Twitter, Lochte wrote:
"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, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that I am sorry to my teammates, my fans, my fellow competitors, my sponsors, and the hosts of this great event.”
The 32-year-old star swimmer did not make mention of having lied, but did apologize for "not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning."
The ordeal angered Brazilian authorities and lead a judge to order Lochte's passport and that of James Feigen be seized earlier this week. Lochte had already left the country. Feigen agreed to pay a nearly $11,000 fine.