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All That and a Bag of Mail: Brazil Screwed Our Swimmers

What a week. 

If Outkick hasn’t kept you entertained this week, I don’t know what more we could have done.

So rather than gloat over our successes as being the most entertaining brand on the Internet this week, let’s dive right into the Ryan Lochte and US Swimming mess and make it the entire focus of the Friday mailbag.  

I’m fascinated by this story and we’ve been inundated with questions about it. So let’s put this thing to bed and make the mailbag all about Lochte and his pals. 

Many of you have asked: So what happened with Lochte and the US Swimmers?

This is the most basic story without a ton of details included. 

Ryan Lochte and three other US American swimmers went out drinking until 5:50 in the morning at a French-themed club. Then they got into a cab and headed back to their rooms. Along the way they stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom. The gas station door was locked and they yanked it open, while inside they may have cracked a window and peed on the floor, then two fake police, aka gas station security guards, show up outside the bathroom pointing with guns drawns guns screaming in Portuguese. The American swimmers have no idea what these guards are saying or who they are or why they’re there. But eventually the American swimmers end up giving them money, at gunpoint, and they let the swimmers go.

That’s the story in a paragraph that both parties pretty much agree happened. 

Written in this way, the story isn’t very confusing and it looks like a pretty typical drunken night out on the town — the kind of night that many of you reading the mailbag have had a ton of times — until, that is, two armed dudes show up and pull guns on you and demand money.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, after you tell this story publicly the Brazilian government, which typically doesn’t solve crime in the city — there were 1700 murders in Rio last year — decides that they have been embarrassed by the amount of attention this story has gotten and they need to strike back. Lochte has already left Brazil, but the remaining three swimmers have their passports taken — two of the swimmers are taken off the airplane as they prepare to leave — and essentially made to sign propaganda-like confessions. One of the swimmers even has to make a $10,800 charitable donation to a random Brazilian charity in order to leave the country. 

How is that not extortion?

Yet all of the media attention has focused on shaming Ryan Lochte and his swimming friends for their inappropriate behavior. 

Yet here’s my question for you — what did they actually do wrong? In this entire story the only “wrongdoing” by the US swimmers is yanking open a locked bathroom door, potentially peeing on the floor, and maybe cracking a mirror. (Again, we’re assuming the worst case scenario here and accepting the gas station story as true. Do we really know that any of this happened? If Brazilian cops are notoriously corrupt doesn’t it stand to reason that armed security guards at gas stations would be even more corrupt?) But even if all of this happened in the bathroom, would you believe that it required two armed security guards to draw their weapons on the swimmers and take money from them?

And if you were in Brazil and two armed guards leveled guns at you and you gave them money, wouldn’t you tell your friends that you’d been robbed? Moreover, Ryan Lochte is clearly not a genius, so is it a surprise that he ended up turning this night into a heroic event when he told his side of the story? Of course not. He was wasted and Lochte has always seen himself as the star of a reality show. This is how people who see themselves as stars of reality shows behave, they embellish every story. They laugh in the face of a gun, they say “Whatever,” when they’re threatened with death. This is how you become larger than life via a reality show, because your entire life is artificially staged to make you look better than you actually are. Let me put it to you this way, if all of this had happened to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West do you think they’d tell a completely valid version of what happened either? Of course not.

And for all those people screaming what if it had been four black NBA players in this story, four of those dudes have already gone to a brothel and everyone laughed it off. Draymond Green got arrested for assault at a bar this summer and that was after kicking people in the balls all through the playoffs and no one cared. Do you really think the media treatment of four black NBA players would be more severe than what has happened to these four white swimmers? Please. It would be less severe. 

In fact, if these swimmers were black male athletes instead of white male athletes the primary focus of media attention would be on the fact that Brazilian rent-a-cops drew two guns on guys for making a mess in a bathroom. Black lives matter would lose their minds. And they would argue, “There’s no way if this had been four white swimmers that they would have ever drawn their guns or pulled them off the planes and taken their passports or made them pay to leave the country.”

You know this is all true.

If this had happened to black male athletes they would have been treated with infinitely more sympathy in the media. That’s because they would have done nothing wrong compared to what was done to them.  

Like I said yesterday, the most predictable element of this story was the fact that it was going to eventually turn into a story of racism and white privilege. The PC Bromanis can turn anything into a racial issue. Except, you know, when black people kill black people, which is what happens 93% of the time a black person is killed in America. The PC Bromanis make up false comparisons between Gabby Douglas and Ryan Lochte. Abetted by social media they can turn a single opinion on Twitter or a single letter to the editor — see Newton, Cam — into an angry mob of racists. Tens of thousands of you Tweet me every week. Do you know how many of you Tweeted me about Gabby Douglas not putting her hand over her heart? Zero. We’ve got a pretty big audience, the Gabby Douglas “controversy” was manufactured so PC Bromanis could rail against an opinion that barely, if at all, existed.  

So why did this Lochte story become what it became?

My argument is pretty simple: because the majority of the media — and most on social media who see everything through the prism of race — want white men to behave badly because it reinforces their misguided worldview — that white men are the country’s biggest problem. These people so desperately crave white men acting badly that they immediately assume the worst when white men are involved in any story. Here there were no crimes of any severity being alleged, but the reaction was very similar to Duke Lacrosse, the UVa gang rape chronicled by Rolling Stone, and the Peyton Manning mooning coverage that happened earlier this year. All three of those stories had no underlying substance and were proven to be false. But they all had one thing in common, rich white dudes of privilege charged with wrongdoing.

The same is true here.   

Again, what do we 100% know these American swimmers did wrong? NOTHING. CNN and the Today Show showed up at this gas station with their cameras and didn’t see any damage. TMZ reported that the only damage was a cracked sandwich sign that the cops took $400 for.And that’s assuming that the gas station owner and the gas station security guards are completely honest with their stories — which is a huge leap. Who actually has more incentive to lie, the American swimmers, who did nothing wrong, or the gas station security guards who may have robbed them? (By the way, how ironic is it that the PC Bromanis believe American police are racist liars, but believe that the Brazilian rent-a-cop security guards are totally honest? — the absolute worst thing these four Americans did if everything the Brazilian gas station people said is true is crack a mirror, break a lock on a bathroom door, and pee on the floor.

That’s it!

And this turned into the number one story in America and Brazil.

What’s more, PC Bromanis had the audacity to claim that Lochte and his swimming pals were being treated with white privilege. Are you kidding me? These dudes got destroyed for getting drunk and messing up a gas station bathroom. I can’t think of any “sports” story that has ever spawned more coverage that involved less alleged wrongdoing. We’re talking about behavior that is, at the absolute worst, bathroom vandalism. Plus, it’s not as if Lochte has some sordid history of wrongdoing. If anything, this is the single most predictable thing Lochte could have done. If I had set betting odds on which American athlete is the most likely to go out with his buddies, get insanely wasted, vandalize a gas station bathroom, get mugged by fake cops, and provoke an international incident over his drunken behavior, just about every single of one of you would have wagered on Ryan Lochte as the culprit.

It’s not like Lochte showed up in Brazil claiming to be the damn Pope, Lochte gonna Lochte.   

But what about the lies, the PC Bromanis are screaming right now. 

What did these swimmers actually lie about that we can prove was actually a lie?

Nothing. 

Lochte admitted he exaggerated how close the gun came to his head. But that wasn’t the key point here, the key point was that guns were drawn and money was taken from the swimmers at gunpoint. If you get money taken from you at gunpoint, how is it anything else other than a robbery? The other details here that don’t match up, what time did you leave the club, where did the men first confront you with guns drawn, are all the kinds of details that drunk people mess up all the time. They aren’t clear lies at all. Remember, in order to lie you have to know the story you are telling is false and intend to tell a false story.

That isn’t the case here.

The most important part of this story is that two fake cops pulled guns and took money from the swimmers. That happened. 

Put yourself in their situation.  

Let’s say you were really drunk in a foreign country, your phone had died — so you didn’t know what time you were leaving the club, just that it was late — you get in a cab and on the way home you realize that you had to go to the bathroom really, really bad. You pull up at a gas station and find the bathroom door locked, but you’ve got drunk muscles and you’re about to pee your pants so you yank it open. Then everyone goes into the bathroom to pee, one drunk dude shoves another drunk dude while he’s peeing and he hits the mirror, cracking it, in the midst of the shove urine goes to the floor. Then the next thing you know there are two armed dudes outside your bathroom screaming at you in Portuguese and waving guns around. You have no idea what they’re angry at you for or what they’re saying in a foreign language, remember you’re really drunk too. So you raise your arms above your head — as you can see these guys doing in the edited video that the gas station released — and ultimately you take out money from your wallet and give it to them and they let you go.

Wouldn’t that seem like a robbery to you and your drunken buddies? And isn’t that, by far, the most likely story of what happened here? 

What’s more, if you want to rank wrongdoers here, Brazil seized three American swimmer passports because they “vandalized” a bathroom, including pulling two of them off a plane after they had already cleared customs, had two gas station security guards draw their guns on our Olympians for cracking a mirror or a gas station advertising board, the guards demanded payment from them while they had guns pointing at them, and made one of the American swimmers give nearly $11,000 to charity in order to get his passport back to leave the country. Oh, and they also made all three Americans still in the country issue false statements about what happened that night to leave. 

And we’re focusing on the American wrongdoing?

Holy hell!

Put simply, our guys, even if they were drunk idiots, got screwed by Brazil here.

And I’m like the only person on the entire Internet pointing this out.

Our Olympians were far from perfect, but was their behavior criminal? Hell no.

Send your mailbag questions to clay.travis@gmail.com We’ll be back to the regular mailbag on Tuesday, I just had to focus on Lochte this morning. Hope y’all have great weekends.   

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.