U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte took "full responsibility" Saturday for the incident in Rio that got him and three other American swimmers into trouble and tarnished Team USA's reputation during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Lochte had falsely claimed that he and his teammates were robbed at gunpoint while getting out of a taxi in Rio.
Lochte opened up to NBC's Matt Lauer in his first sit-down TV interview since authorities accused him of fabricating his robbery story. Lochte admitted that he "over-exaggerated" the story and is now done with his "immature antics."
"All I know is that I learned my lesson, I definitely did. These kind of shenanigans or whatever you want to call them will never happen again and I love this sport," Lochte shared during his NBC interview. "I dedicated my whole entire life to it and it's not who I am. I'm not done with this sport. There is still more I want to accomplish. All I know is I'm going to move forward from this and learn from this and better myself in making sure this never happens again."
During the 20-minute interview, the 32-year-old teared up at one point when he was asked by Lauer how he felt when his fellow teammates — James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz — were detained in Rio.
"I let my team down and, you know," he said. "I wanted to be there. I don't want them to think I left them and left them out to dry. They're my teammates and I wanted to be there. I just wanted to make sure they were home safe before I came out to talk."
Last weekend, Lochte claimed that he and his teammates were robbed by thieves posing as police officers. After Brazilian police conducted a probe into the incident they found that the swimmers had vandalized a gas station bathroom while intoxicated after attending a party with fellow athletes.
When the swimmers were told by an armed guard that they needed to pay for the damage to the bathroom door, they offered some cash and left unharmed. The security guard apparently never brandished a firearm and there was no robbery, authorities said of the entire episode that was reportedly caught on surveillance camera footage.
When Lochte was asked during the interview why he initially lied about his robbery, he explained: "It was hours after the incident happened [when I spoke to Billy Bush], I was still intoxicated. I'm not making that an excuse. I shouldn't have said that. I over-exaggerated that part. The gun was drawn but it wasn't at my forehead. I definitely had too much to drink that night and I was intoxicated and none of this would have happened if I hadn't done that."
In response to the Brazilian officials calling Lochte and his teammates "vandals," he said, "whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion, or us paying just for the damages — we don't know ... all we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."
Following the fabricated story, Lochte and teammate Feigen were indicted by Rio civil police for falsely reporting a crime. While Lochte returned to the U.S. before a Brazilian judge ordered his passport seized, Feigen was forced to pay the equivalent of $10,800 to a Brazilian charity before he could leave Rio on Friday.
Lochte's television interview comes just one day after he apologized on social media and admitted to making mistakes.
"I was immature and I made a stupid mistake," Lochte told Lauer on Saturday. "I definitely learned from this and I'm really sorry."