The Season 23 premiere of Dancing with the Stars took place tonight on ABC, and the focus didn’t end up being on the celebrities or moves on the floor. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and his pro partner Cheryl Burke had completed their routine and were getting advice from the judges when someone appeared to storm the floor and that’s when something really weird happened.
This article has been updated with more information, including the names of the protesters, ner the borrom of the article.
Reports on social media immediately started coming out that Ryan Lochte had actually been attacked on the dance floor.
— Jahan (@H00PINATI) September 13, 2016
According to Deadline, there was a “security incident” during Lochte’s segment when at least one person, and possibly more, rushed the stage. This caused the security for Dancing with the Stars to get involved and take care of the situation.
Lochte stood there stunned and silent as security was doing their job, but he obviously had no idea how to deal with it all.
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba was giving her thoughts and advice on Lochte’s dance with Burke when the incident took place. The camera never panned off of her or Lochte, but it was obvious that something was happening on the dance floor stage.
Inaba began yelling and pointing at someone on the floor who obviously was not supposed to be there, but they didn’t stop. The tops of people’s heads can then be seen at the bottom of the shot as security headed onto the floor.
Upon returning from commercial, host Tom Bergeron gave big thanks to the security team for being prepared and ready to handle the incident. He tried to keep the situation light and said, “I’d like to personally thank our security team for staying in shape.”
— Jason Nathanson (@ABCNewsJason) September 13, 2016
From what I’m hearing, someone rushed stage and threw something in direction of Lochte. They nabbed him but others followed. Yikes. #DWTS
— Kate Coyne (@KatePeople) September 13, 2016
According to Heavy, the original protester heading out onto the floor was tackled by security, but others were behind him. The audience member had clearly gotten out of hand and upon return from commercial, Lochte was fixing his hair which had maybe gotten messed up during the tussle.
Bergeron then asked Lochte how he was feeling after seeing the audience member come out onto the floor and act so harshly toward him. He simply said that was a bit shaken up and felt hurt by the incident, but he was determined to enjoy himself on Dancing with the Stars.
Cheryl Burke was also taken by surprise by what had just happened on the show. She was more upset that the rogue audience members had taken away Lochte’s spotlight after he had worked so hard getting ready for this night.
— E! News (@enews) September 13, 2016
Almost instantly, the jokes started coming out in full force and they all stem from the mugging incident with Lochte during the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Someone attacked Lochte on Dancing with the Stars. I bet he saw a gun. https://t.co/f7eyiGRCyy
— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) September 13, 2016
Ryan Lochte allegedly accosted during #DWTS. No one believes him.
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) September 13, 2016
E! News is reporting that there was actually an entire row of people in the audience that were wearing anti-Lochte t-shirts. The shirts simply had the swimmer’s last name on them with a symbol on top that crossed through it.
Once the security team for Dancing with the Stars had gotten control of the situation, they forcefully escorted the protesters out of the studio. The crowd started cheering for the dancing pair and chanting “We love you, Lochte” to try and get the couple back to a relaxing point.
Inana said that they were only there to judge his dancing and unfortunately for Lochte, he had some troubles. He scored a 24 out of a possible 40 for his opening routine with straight 6’s across the board from the four judges.
Update at 1:00 a.m. ET: NBC News is reporting that the two men who stormed the stage were 48-year-old Sam Sododeh and 40-year-old Barzeen Soroudi. They were authorized audience members but later changed into the anti-Lochte t-shirts. Four or five women were with them and chanting “liar” at Lochte, and they were also escorted out after the incident.
After all was said and done, everyone appeared to be alright with Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke especially escaping unscathed. It’s a good thing that the security team was prepared and ready to do what needed to be done, but you can be sure there will be much more scrutiny on audience members from this point on. Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars had a big premiere night, but the “security incident” is what truly took center stage.
[Image via ABC Television Network]