Ryan Lochte Thanks ‘DWTS’ Family After Protester Incident

Hashtag blessed. Ryan Lochte thanked his Dancing With the Stars family after the protester incident earlier this week with a tweet on Wednesday, September 14.

“I want to thank my family, girlfriend, friends and fans for being so supportive of me after the incident on Dancing With the Stars Monday night,” the 32-year-old Olympic swimmer wrote. “When I was asked to do the show, the one thing that I kept hearing was that it was like joining a big family.”

“After Monday’s incident, I now know what that means,” he continued. “I have gotten so much love from everyone on the show, including my partner Cheryl, my fellow competitors, the producers, the security team and its fans. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the show, and more than ever, I am dedicated to my new family and to working hard to do my best.”

On Monday, September 12, Lochte and his dancing partner, Cheryl Burke, were receiving feedback from the judges when two men — Sam Sotoodeh, 48, and Barzeen Soroudi, 40 — rushed the stage wearing anti-Lochte shirts. The pair was tackled by security and detained, while other hecklers in the crowd were subsequently kicked out for their anger over Lochte’s headline-making Rio scandal.

TOM BERGERON, CHERYL BURKE, RYAN LOCHTE
Tom Bergeron, Cheryl Burke and Ryan Lochte during 'Dancing With the Stars' on Sept. 12, 2016. Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Burke, 32, took to Instagram on Tuesday to express her sentiments over the surprising moment.

“Thank you to everyone for your concern,” she wrote. “I’m still trying to process everything that happened last night. My heart is aching for Ryan and his family. No one deserves that sort of behavior directed at them. We all need to love each other and not be bullies or cowards. Let’s all just be positive for each other. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the security team at Dancing with the Stars.”

Lochte faced plenty of backlash in August after he and three teammates claimed they were robbed at gunpoint after a party in Rio de Janeiro. Authorities later determined that the athletes had lied about the incident and had actually vandalized a gas station. (The DWTS competitor claimed he wasn’t personally involved in the vandalism.)

“I’ve done wrong I know that,” he tweeted Sunday, September 11. “But the ppl that fake care about me hurts the worst! Everything happens for a reason! I learned [the] hard way!"

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