Olympian Ryan Lochte Talks His ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ Backdoor Exit
Ryan Lochte is a 12-time Olympic medalist and among the most decorated swimmers of all time. But no amount of competition experience could prepare him for the wacky world of Celebrity Big Brother. Arguably the strongest player in the game was evicted this week as a result of a backdoor plan put in motion by Kato Kaelin, who served as Head of Household.
And so Lochte won’t get to stand atop the proverbial reality show podium. There are no hard feelings from the easy-going, at times controversial, sports figure as the 34-year-old believes he walked out of the house as a better person than when he entered.
Below, the elite athlete delves into his exit from the house.
Toward the end we saw you peek your head out into a room where certain houseguests including HOH Kato were plotting against you. Did you end up overhearing them, or did you pretty much just see the writing on the wall?
Ryan Lochte: I saw the writing on the wall. When any group is whispering and you come in that room and they completely shocked and surprised, you know they’re talking about you. I definitely knew. I kind of knew the day before the eviction just because what Kato said to me. I asked him man-to-man if I needed to start packing because I wanted to pack all my stuff. I didn’t want someone else to do it for me. He told me ‘yeah,’ which I respect. He gave me an honest answer. Once the veto was used by Tom, I definitely knew I was going to be put on the block and go home. It was because I was the biggest threat in the house.
What do you feel you got out of this experience when you look back? What’s one thing you’re going to take with you?
I’m walking out of this house with two really good friends: Jonathan [Bennett] and Joey Lawrence. It’s amazing how genuine these people are. I’m so happy I was able to do this show. All the competitions make me want to try even harder for 2020.
You mention the 2020 Summer Olympics — Lolo Jones still in the competition. She seemed hurt you bonded so much with Jonathan. Is there anything you’re going to do when she leaves the house to ease tensions?
Not really because I didn’t do anything to her. From her flipping me off, and what I’ve been hearing is during the live feeds she has been back-talking me and being really negative toward me. I’m going to let her apologize. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I’m still going to stay positive and keep doing me. But I wish her all the best and hope she can pull off this win.
I think you won over a lot of fans with people seeing maybe a different side of you. Is that something you wanted when you came on board?
I wanted people to know me — the real Ryan Lochte. My family and really close friends see that, but not everyone else. They know me from headlines that portray me differently. I’m hoping they saw that and what a big heart I have, how nice and loyal I am. Hopefully, people got to see that.
Going back to Joey, who we know likes to stay in shape. And with yourself training for the next Olympics, what is it like being in the house with lots of not-so-healthy snacks around. Were you able to maintain a diet there?
Talk about just eating constantly because you’re bored. When you’re bored, all you want to do is eat, that’s all you can do. But with hanging with Joey, who eats really healthy, I’ve eaten healthier than I ever have. I’m a swimmer, so we burn a load of calories that we eat, you have to eat so many calories. I would eat junk food, I was drinking like six sodas a day. Being in the Big Brother house, I didn’t want to have a soda. I was eating healthy, and it was amazing. Now that I’m out, I want to keep eating healthy. I want to do everything I can to be in the best physical shape for 2020. I’m definitely really happy this happened for me.
Who is your pick to win the game?
I got to go with my boy Joey, but the chances of him winning are very slim. I think he is a very big target right now. But I think who has a good game plan is Natalie [Eva Marie] or Kato.
Why is that?
Kato because he was an athlete so he has the athleticism there. He is also smart, he plays poker so he can read people. I think that is really good. He knows when people are BS-ing him or not. Hopefully, that works for him.
Now you turn your attention back to training. How is that going? What’s your mindset like preparing for this Olympics compared to the others?
After the 2012 Olympics, I fell out of love with the sport of swimming. I think I was doing it to collect a paycheck. Now, since my son was born, I have a new appreciation for the sport. I’m having so much more fun than I’ve ever had in swimming. I’m more determined. I have a hunger inside me to win and prove to my son that if you never give up and keep trying on a daily basis, you can achieve anything. That’s what I want to show him. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in 2020.
Big Brother next airs Wednesday, January 30, 8/7c, CBS