When Ryan Lochte lost all of his major sponsors Monday after his disastrous Matt Lauer interview, everyone was saying that the Olympic swimmer just needed to lay low and stay out of the spotlight.
It looks like the spotlight seeking Lochte isn’t listening as it’s been widely reported that he’ll be joining the cast of “Dancing with the Stars” for Season 23 which premieres Sept 12. Naturally, this is trying to be kept as quiet as the next Kardashian marketing scheme since the official cast list will be announced next week on “Good Morning America.”
Some may wonder why Lochte would want to submit himself to more media scrutiny after fabricating details of a robbery at the Rio Olympics that caused an international incident.
It’s a pretty simple answer. Money. You can be sure Lochte and his team knew that his sponsors would more than likely drop him and quickly put out feelers everywhere possible. The last time we heard, the cast received at least two-hundred thousand dollars and the longer they stay on the show the more they get in weekly stipends.
After the 2012 London Olympics, the swimmer was very vocal about wanting to be part of “Dancing with the Stars,” and many insiders said that Lochte is rather light on his feet.
“DWTS” is the ideal safe space for scandal-ridden celebrities — or more specifically, for stars that want to change the conversation. It’s just good old-fashioned image management. Just ask former contestants like Paula Deen, Gary Busey or David Hasselhoff, best known for controversies or erratic behavior. On “DWTS,” there’s an equal playing field: Everyone embarrasses themselves as they wear tacky clothes and struggle to learn the dances.
Even though Lochte might be the most recently disgraced contestant in show history, it would certainly change the narrative to see him on TV every week in a sparkly costume; he could hopefully display an ounce of humility and self-awareness.
Yet as helpful as an appearance would be, the show doesn’t always treat celebrities with kid gloves. (A few years ago, host Tom Bergeron warned producers that they shouldn’t have him interview musical guest Chris Brown unless Brown was prepared to answer some very uncomfortable questions.) There’s no doubt that if Lochte is a contestant, his damaging lies from Rio will come up. How could the show ignore such a recent incident? But Lochte would be in a controlled environment with so many other distractions, and the main objective — no matter the reason for being there — is to dance well enough to capture the amazingly gaudy Mirror Ball Trophy.
It’s a win-win for ABC: While the show is still going strong with an average of about 13 million viewers per episode last season, ratings have been steadily declining over the years — about 20 million people watched weekly in its heyday around 2011. A Lochte appearance would be a must-watch, especially after all the negative Olympics publicity.
If Lochte plays it right, he could have made a smart pr choice, but there seems to be something within him that can’t keep that douchebag we’ve come to know from leaking out somehow.