Embattled Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s highly-anticipated “Dancing With the Stars” debut was interrupted Monday night when two male protesters stormed the stage and escorted out by security. They were later arrested by Los Angeles police.
At first, it was unclear exactly what happened because the ABC cameras did not show the incident. As judge Carrie Ann Inaba was offering her remarks after Lochte’s performance toward the end of the live two-hour premiere, viewers only heard the sounds of a scuffle and saw the shocked look on Inaba’s face as she started saying “Excuse me!”
On Tuesday morning, ABC released video via “Good Morning America” that showed the men approaching Lochte before security intervened, tackling one of them.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 13, 2016
A Los Angeles police department spokesperson confirmed that the two individuals were arrested, and as NBC News first reported, “held pending charges on suspicion of trespassing.”
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) September 13, 2016
After news reports initially identified the protesters as two men wearing T-shirts that had the name “Lochte” crossed out, this image of the men in question started making the rounds on Twitter, via ABC News Radio correspondent Jason Nathanson. Olympic swimmer Ed Moses, Lochte’s friend in the audience, posted two Instagram videos that showed the protesters being led out by security as the audience booed them, along with footage of a group of women (also in anti-Lochte T-shirts) in the crowd yelling “liar!”
The audience cheered as the woman were asked to leave, and everyone gave Lochte a standing ovation.
During the show, host Tom Bergeron quickly cut to commercial amid the confusion. “We had to go to break because we had a little incident. I would like to personally thank our security team for staying in shape,” he said when the show returned, then turned his attention to Lochte and Burke. “Are you okay, you guys? Ryan, how are you doing?”
“I’m doing good,” Lochte said, looking rattled.
“When there’s that kind of strong emotion, what does that make you feel like?” Bergeron asked of the anti-Lochte sentiment, which has run deep ever since the swimmer was caught lying about details of an alleged robbery during the summer Olympics in Rio. He was recently suspended for 10 months from the U.S. swim team for his role in the messy situation, which turned into an international incident that dominated the news.
“So many feelings are going through my head right now. A little hurt,” Lochte said. “But I came out here, I wanted to do something that I’m completely not comfortable with, and I did. And I came out with a big smile, and I had the best dance partner.”
“We are nothing if not a country of second acts and second chances,” Bergeron assured him.
Inaba was able to finish her comments that were cut off by the protester (“I think you have a lot to work on, but this is a fresh start”), and the judges awarded the pair a score of 24 out of 40. Bergeron also checked in with Burke to see how she was feeling.
“I’m shocked, and I am hurt for Ryan,” Burke said. “Me and Ryan have gotten the pleasure to know each other, and he’s an amazing guy. He’s great, and kind, and he’s just here working his butt off, and trying to do what he’s supposed to be doing, which is dancing. So I hope people give him a chance.”
(This post has been updated with footage from Tuesday morning.)
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