The D.C. star tells PEOPLE a mix-up over her age prompted disputes that she cheered for the Redskins

By Kate Hogan and Brian Orloff
September 23, 2010 05:05 PM
Michael Edwards

Gimme an F-A-K-E! What does that spell? Perhaps Michaele Salahi can answer.

The Real Housewives of D.C. star is under fire – again – this time for allegedly lying about her past as a Washington Redskins cheerleader.

In Thursday’s episode of the Bravo reality show, Salahi joins the “first ladies of football” to rehearse ahead of an alumni performance. But her inability to perform a routine – and the fact that no one seemed to remember her – raised eyebrows.

According to a Washington Post report published in December after the episode taped, several former cheerleaders tried to learn more about Salahi’s experience with the team.

“She was never at an audition, never at a game and never performed,” former cheerleader and choreographer Sheryl Olecheck told the paper. “When I saw her, I had to ask around: ‘Who is that?’ ”

Terri Lamb, the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders Alumni Association President, was more decisive. “We have no record that she ever was a Redskins cheerleader,” she told the Post. “She was listed on our 1991 roster at Ms. Salahi’s request and based on her misrepresentation to us.”

A Question of Age

But Salahi tells PEOPLE that she was indeed a cheerleader – just not in 1991. Why the discrepancy? Salahi said she didn’t want her real age – she’s 44 – to be revealed.

“I said I’m not interested in cheering with the alumni because then my real age will be out,” Salahi told PEOPLE on Thursday. “You don’t become a part of the NFL – and with cheering – just because you think you’re cute and you go out there. Someone has to authorize you to get in.”

Continues Salahi: “Was I a part of the ’90s? Was that my idea? No. It was [Terri] Lamb’s. [Now] I think she’s worried about the repercussions of her job – and I get it.” But Salahi says she’s been a Redskins cheerleading alumni member in good standing for years. “Since 2004 I’ve been paying dues,” she says, “[and been] a part of the [alumni] association.”

As for her confusion over the routines that day, Salahi tells PEOPLE: “Did I know the routines? No, because I wasn’t out there. [Terri Lamb] put me in it … Look, I brought the show there. I gave her notoriety. I gave her the attention that she needed.”

“I think it’s hysterical,” she says. “Guess when I learned that routine? Literally I walked in with a film crew and they said, ‘Here’s the routine.’ So they had all been rehearsing.”

“But I laughed so hard,” says Salahi. “I’m a team player; I’ll do anything.”