The 34-year-old opened up about the controversy during the penultimate episode of Celebrity Big Brother season 2 on Monday, February 11, as the CBS reality show aired unseen clips from the season. (He had been evicted from the house in a January episode.)
“I went from everyone loved me, and I was on top of the world, and then I was one of the most hated people,” Lochte told a group of houseguests including Dina Lohan, Ricky Williams and Kato Kaelin.
During the 2016 Summer Olympics, the six-time gold medalist claimed that he and three other members of the U.S. swim team were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station as they traveled back to Rio’s Olympic Village. Brazilian authorities later stated that the swimmers had vandalized the gas station restroom and had been stopped by armed security guards.
“They blamed us because I fabricated the story,” he said on Monday’s episode. “I said the gun was pointed at my head but, it was, like, from me to you. But when I told the story, I was still, like, really, like, drunk.”
Lochte also revealed he has gotten impassioned letters from former fans. “I’m a role model for these kids, and when I get messages saying, ‘You should die’ and ‘I thought were you my role model, you’re not anymore,’ that is what really got me … when they started saying, ‘You’re not my role model’ and ‘I lost faith in you’ and stuff like that,” he said, getting choked up.
The Dancing With the Stars alum has had a tough year. In July 2018, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued him a 14-month suspension from competitive swimming after he received an IV injection. And in October, he was involved in a car crash and announced plans to seek treatment for a “serious” alcohol addiction the following day.
The two-hour season 2 finale of Celebrity Big Brother airs on CBS Sunday, February 13, at 9 p.m. ET.