Well, for starters, Lochte is a guy who has hosted a reality show with the now-ironic title “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” and unleashed upon the world the word “jeah.”
“It’s spelled J-E-A-H. If you say it like how it’s spelled it’s ‘jee-ah,’ ” he explained on the show (via Phillymag.com). “But that’s boring; no one wants to hear that. So you have to really put that emphatis [sic] on that ‘J.’ And then the ‘A-H’ kinda just flows.”
He actually trademarked that.
Lochte, who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., has been keeping a relatively low profile since slipping out of Rio de Janeiro on Monday morning. He spoke to NBC’s Billy Bush on Sunday and Matt Lauer again Wednesday, revising the story he had originally told about how he and three teammates on the U.S. Olympics team in Rio had been robbed at gunpoint.
Lochte isn’t exactly invisible, though, in North Carolina, where he lives and trains. Just look for the license plates.
But just who is he? Jeeeeah, here’s a glimpse from Men’s Journal from four years ago:
Where to start? Back in high school, Lochte fell out of a tree while playing hide-and-seek with his brother, busting up his shoulder before the 2002 Nationals. He wrecked his scooter shortly before the 2007 World Championships. He’s broken his ankle skateboarding three times, and then sprained it chasing after his dog before the 2008 Olympic Trials. In Beijing, he missed a team meeting on the Olympic Village dos and don’ts and brushed his teeth with nonpotable water, resulting in days of the runs. He screwed up his knee in 2009 while break-dancing at his house, and then in 2011, he wrecked another scooter shortly before the World Championships in Shanghai. He’s bounced back quickly from all his injuries, but he is sort of Mickey Mantle in goggles.
Lochte, who turned 32 earlier this month, may have been overshadowed in the pool by Michael Phelps, winning one individual gold medal and five on relay teams, used his show to share all kinds of inside information, in his own Lochte-esque way, over its five-week run on E! Sometimes he overshared, but that is Lochte. Like the time he had to urinate before a race.
“One time I really had to go, man, and I was up in the next heat. So I got up on the blocks and I just started peeing in my Speedo,” he said. “On top of the blocks. And I had my goggles on and started crying because I thought everyone behind me was looking at me and laughing. The starter said, ‘Swimmers, take your marks, go.’ I took off. I don’t even know if I did the right stroke. I think that was probably the only time I’ve ever been nervous before a race.”
On how ideas come to him: “Something will pop up in my head. It could be like the weirdest thing. Like all’a sudden like I have like a jumping banana in my head. And I stop and pause. I’m like that damn jumping banana is in my head. Like, I don’t know what’s going on.”
His approach to speaking engagements: “I’ve talked in front of … like… a lot of big business people about stuff I didn’t even know.”
Lochte has given acting a whirl (most notably on “90210” and as “the sex idiot” on “30 Rock”), and who among us can forget Lochte’s “Pool Water”?
Lochte is in a relationship with Playboy playmate Kayla Rae Reid, who accompanied him to Rio. Up until the competition and the robbery/non-robbery thing, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Then there’s the Lochte revealed to his 1.2 million followers on Twitter:
Don’t think you’ve seen the last of him in an Olympics, either. “Who knows?” he said after failing to medal in the 200 individual medley final. “I might be back.”