Why Ryan Lochte Said Yes to Celebrity Big Brother: Viewers Are Going to See a Different Side of Him
But that was then. And now, Lochte — a few months fresh from successful treatment for alcohol abuse and still in the middle of training for the next Summer Olympics despite a 14-month ban — is ready for America to see a different side of him.
“He’s not how he is in the media,” his agent, Jeff Ostrow, tells PEOPLE. “He’s a great person, laid-back and down to earth.”
“I thought it would be nice for the 10 million people that regularly watch the show to get to see who Ryan is,” he says.
“People who want to see Ryan — what they think, he’s a party animal, crazy person, that’s not what they’re going to see and that’s not what Ryan is,” Ostrow continues. “And, in fact, he made a commitment to change his lifestyle a little bit and sought a little bit of help for alcohol and he doesn’t party like that.”
Lochte, 34, is one of the most decorated athletes in his sport and a superstar of past Olympics. But his prowess in the pool has often been overshadowed by his behavior on dry land, including a reality series on E! in 2013 that didn’t seem to miss a single moment of cluelessness or shenanigans.
And then there were more troubling incidents. Lochte falsely claimed he and other American swimmers had been held at gunpoint and robbed while at a gas station during the Rio Summer Games, touching off an international incident. He later apologized amid conflicting accounts of what his group had done and why security had felt the need to draw their guns.
Despite stiff punishment from U.S. Swimming, Lochte vowed to make it back to the Tokyo Summer Games in 2020 and was well on his way when he was barred last year from competition for 14 months because he received an illegally large IV infusion. (The substance itself was not banned.)
In October, Lochte underwent treatment for a years-long alcohol addiction after police were reportedly called to an incident at his hotel in California.
Ostrow, his agent, says now that the outpatient treatment lasted about a month and “went very well.”
“It was something that he voluntarily wanted to do even though many professionals would suggest that he didn’t necessarily need to,” he says of Lochte. “He needed to kind of take control over himself and his decisions better.”
There have been recent bright spots as well: Lochte wed former Playboy model Kayla Rae Reid in a lavish ceremony in September after a civil ceremony earlier in 2018. They are parents to Caiden Zane, born last June, and Kayla is expecting a baby girl this summer.
“They’re super excited, they always wanted to have two children,” Ostrow says.
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Lochte, particularly, “couldn’t be happier — No. 1 that he’s having another kid because he loves being a dad, but [also] having a baby girl has always been part of his dreams.”
After all the ups and downs, Lochte is now set to join a house with 11 other celebrities from various fields (including former White House official Anthony Scaramucci and Lindsay Lohan’s mom) to compete for $250,000.
They will be cut off from the outside world and watched constantly by cameras. Unlike the other sports stars in the cast, such as Olympian Lolo Jones, Lochte is still competing.
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“Ryan always goes into everything to win. His mindset is to win,” says Ostrow. ” I think he’s going in there to try and win the game but not at the expense of making himself look foolish or doing things that are contrary to the type of person that Ryan is.”
One thing Lochte won’t stop doing is training. There will be a pool at the Big Brother house just for that purpose.
While he has brushed up a bit on the series, “He didn’t want to over think the process too much in terms of strategy,” Ostrow says.
“You’re thrown into that experiment,” Ostrow says, adding, “My advice [to Lochte] is, ‘Go in and be yourself, obviously be mindful that unlike the rest of our life they’re going to watch everything you do. Just be you’ — and I know he’ll be fine if he’s him.”
Celebrity Big Brother premieres Monday (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.