Turned over a new leaf. Ryan Lochte opened up about getting a second chance on Dancing With the Stars after his elimination from the ABC series on Monday, October 31.
“Throughout the packages that go with each dance routine, people saw me get emotional, vulnerable, you name it. So I think America saw a different side of me,” Lochte, 32, exclusively told Us Weekly.
As previously reported, the Olympic swimmer signed on for the show following his Rio Games robbery scandal over the summer. In August, he claimed that he and three of his teammates — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station. Rio officials later revealed that the robbery never occurred, and the group of men had actually vandalized the property.
Lochte faced critics early on during his DWTS stint. At the premiere, two men stormed the stage and other hecklers booed him from the audience when he and his pro partner, Cheryl Burke, were awaiting their scores.
The athlete was shaken by the incident but persevered. “I learned a lot about myself. I learned that no matter how hard people knock me down, I can still get up and keep fighting,” he told Us on Monday night. “I can keep fighting to matter what. I can keep moving forward and staying positive. That’s one of the biggest things I learned.”
Lochte made it to week eight in the competition and was sad to hang up his dancing shoes. “I didn’t want to leave, but I knew it was going to happen eventually,” he said. “The friendships I’ve created are pretty much like a second family. … But I will be back in two weeks for the finale, so I can’t say all my goodbyes yet.”
Although they didn’t take home the Mirrorball Trophy, Burke, 32, is proud of what they’ve accomplished. She revealed what she loved most about dancing with him to Us.
“Just getting to know him!” the returning vet said. “Showing America that he’s just a normal guy and stopping people from judging when you don’t really know somebody. Ryan is down to earth, humble, funny, I mean he’s just a normal dude. If I had a brother, I would compare him to that.”
Lochte chimed in: “I’m definitely really shocked that I made it this far, but I had the world’s best teacher.”
Watch Lochte and Burke on DWTS in the video above!
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