Following Shaun White’s gold medal win in Pyeongchang on Tuesday, a news conference turned a little testy when a reporter brought up White’s settlement of a 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit brought by his former Bad Things bandmate, Lena Zawaideh. In response to whether these resurfaced allegations would “tarnish your legacy,” White brushed away the question: “I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff.” He continued, “[So] I don’t think so — I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am and my friends love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.”
The reporter attempted to press further on White’s use of the word “gossip” and whether he truly thought it applied to the allegations against him (Zawaideh accused him of, among other things, texting “sexually explicit and graphic images” to her and “repeatedly sexually harass[ing] her” over the course of seven years). The moderator backed up White by saying, “I think we’re here to talk about the gold medal,” but it was too late to erase the “gossip” utterance, which was guaranteed to spark a reaction, and it did.
On Wednesday morning’s episode of Today, Samantha Guthrie pointed out that White received negative coverage for his remarks, and he seemed prepared for the question with an apology. “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word ‘gossip,'” White said. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.” He also stated that, at the time of the question, he was very “overwhelmed” by his win and wished to communicate that to the world. White finished by asserting that he’s “a changed person than I was when I was younger,” but he declined to further elaborate upon that statement.
“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip. It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.” @shaunwhite on his remarks at news conference when asked about harassment case pic.twitter.com/5q9jyCL61m
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 14, 2018