By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about the ridiculous international incident that’s being referred to on social media as #LochteGate, or by the much more clever nom de scandal #LochMess.
But in case you’ve had water in your ears for the past 48 hours, here’s a rundown of the events that led us up to this point:
On Sunday, Lochte told reporters that he and three other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint while returning to Rio’s Olympic Village after a night of partying.
Interestingly, in his version of events, Lochte courageously stood up to the thieves, who, he claimed, initially masqueraded as police officers.
On Wednesday, reports began to circulate online indicating that Lochte may have been lying about the incident when he spoke to police and reporters.
Rio officials were issued a warrant granting them the authority to seize the passports of Lochte and the other three swimmers, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz.
Unfortunately for police, Lochte and Feigen had already fled the country, leaving just Conger and Bentz to be detained.
Once authorities determined that Conger and Bentz’s accounts differed significantly from Lochte and Feigen’s, the story of what investigators believe really happened emerged:
Surveillance footage from the night of the incident appears to show the swimmers involved in some sort of verbal altercation at a gas station.
Authorities now say Lochte and company fought a security guard and vandalized property at the gas station and fled before police arrived.
But by the next morning, the incident seemed to have been all but forgotten about, so why would Lochte tell such an elaborate lie on television and to police?
Well, there are a number of theories, but none of them answer every question.
Some say the swimmers are being honest about certain aspects of the story.
The security guards were off-duty prison guards and at least one of them was reportedly carrying a gun.
Perhaps due to the language barrier, the swimmers may have believed they were being shaken down for money.
However, Brazilian officials aren’t buying that explanation and say the US swimmers may have had a number of different reasons for misleading the public.
“At least one of the athletes may have had a motive for telling a story that wasn’t true,” says Fernando Veloso, the Civil Police chief for the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Veloso adds that a cab driver “who gave a ride to two Brazilian women who had left the same party and discussed having romantic encounters with the swimmers.”
So Lochte lied in order to throw some over-eager swim groupies off his trail? Seems a bit desperate.
The New York Times reports that the swimmers were partying with members of Rio’s “old money elite” on the night of the incident, and things may have gotten a bit pricey.
So pricey, in fact, that someone – possibly Lochte’s mother – received an alert that somebody was withdrawing vast sums of cash with the swimmer’s card in the wee hours of the morning.
Perhaps the 32-year-old Olympian lied to his mom and then proceeded to botch the situation in truly Costanza-esque fashion?
It sounds a tad ridiculous, but then again, so does everything about #LochMess.
As for legal consequences, it looks as though the only real punishment will come to the swimmers’ egos and reputations.
An unnamed Brazilian judge assured the Times that making a false statement to police in Rio is “not that serious” and “results in very little punishment.”
We’re sure somewhere, Ryan Lochte can be heard to remark, “Jeah!”