Two protesters rushed the stage and attempted to attack Ryan Lochte after the Olympic swimmer’s performance on the season premier of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars Monday night.
Following Lochte’s dance with Cheryl Burke, Carrie Ann Inaba started to give her critique of the performance. There were loud boos coming from the audience and someone could be heard shouting “liar!” According to Entertainment Weekly, two men wearing t-shirts with Lochte’s name crossed out rushed the stage, while four female protesters, wearing the same shirts, encouraged them from the audience.
Though viewers could not see the attack because they were watching a split screen with Inaba on one side and a replay of the dance on the other, it was clear that something was amiss.
“Excuse me! Excuse me!” Inaba said frantically. “Hey! Back off!” She repeated “excuse me” a few more times and then someone is seen on camera running in front of the judge’s table.
Host Tom Bergeron is heard off camera saying “Alright. Wow. Ok,” and another voice chimes in with, “Easy…”
Entertainment Weekly reports that the attackers were tackled by security guards and one protester fell back into Lochte, Burke, and Bergeron. The women were escorted out of the studio by Derek Hough. DWTS quickly cut to a commercial.
After they returned from break, Bergeron explained, “We had to go to break because we had a little incident.” He added, “I’d personally like to thank our security team for staying in shape.”
Everyone, including Lochte, his partner, and Lochte’s mother looked understandably rattled.
Asked how he was doing, Lochte responded, “I’m doing good.”
“So many feelings are going through my head right now,” he said. “I’m a little hurt, but I came out here. I wanted to do something that I’m completely not comfortable with and I did and I came out here with a big smile and I have the best dance partner.”
“I’m shocked and I’m hurt for Ryan,” Burke said. “Me and Ryan have gotten the pleasure to know each other and he’s an amazing guy. He’s great, he’s kind, and he’s just here working his butt off and try to do what he’s supposed to be doing, which is dancing, so I hope people give him a chance.”
“We’re nothing if we’re not a country of second acts and second chances,” Bergeron said.
Inaba agreed, letting Lochte know that the judges would only be judging him on his dancing during the Dancing With the Stars competition.
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— Erik Hall (@HallErik) September 13, 2016