Two days after two male protesters donning anti-Lochte T-shirts charged the ballroom floor after the Olympian and his pro partner Cheryl Burke completed their debut dance, the 32-year-old swimmer is speaking out about the incident on the season 23 premiere.
“I want to thank my family, girlfriend, friends and fans for being so supportive of me after the incident on Dancing with the Stars Monday night,” Lochte penned in an Instagram post Wednesday.
“When I was asked to do the show, the one thing that I kept hearing was that it was like joining a big family. After Monday’s incident, I now know what that means,” he continued.
“I have gotten so much love from everyone on the show, including my partner Cheryl, my fellow competitors, the producers, the security team and its fans,” he stated. “I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show, and more than ever, I am dedicated to my new family and to working hard to do my best.”
On Monday night’s DWTS season 23 premiere, the older of the two protesters walked in front of camera’s during the live broadcast and was pushed into Lochte, Burke and host Tom Bergeron when security tackled him. Immediately following the incident, Lochte appeared visibly shaken and Burke wiped away tears.
On Tuesday, Burke opened up about the incident in an Instagram post: “Thank you to everyone for your concern. I’m still trying to process everything that happened last night. My heart is aching for Ryan and his family. No one deserves that sort of behavior directed at them. We all need to love each other and not be bullies or cowards. Let’s all just be positive for each other. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the security team at Dancing with the Stars. Love you all, Xoxo Cheryl”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.