(ABC)– Embattled American Olympian swimmer Ryan Lochte said in a new interview that he “over-exaggerated” the story about being held up at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro.
“That’s why I’m taking full responsibility for it,” he told NBC News’ Matt Lauer in a clip posted online. “I over-exaggerated that story.
“If I had never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Lochte claimed during the games that he and three other swimmers were held up at gunpoint after leaving a party and one of the claims he made was that a gun was cocked and pointed at his forehead.
“That didn’t happen,” he said. “The gun was drawn but not at my forehead.”
Police said Lochte’s story was a fabrication and that the Olympians were not robbed and were not victims. Rather, they alleged that the Olympians vandalized a bathroom at a gas station and were confronted by armed security guards.
In the interview, Lochte, who returned home to Charlotte, NC, appeared to concede that he knew that the guards were demanding payment for the damage done, not robbing them.
“Yeah, so then we had to give the money,” he told Lauer. But he also said he “couldn’t answer” whether the men were being robbed.
Lochte, who said he “had too much to drink” that night, maintained that he and the other athletes were frightened because a gun was involved.
“It’s how you want to make it look like,” he said, according to the interview. “Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or us paying for the damages like, we don’t know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”
Still he expressed contrition at the result, saying he was “embarrassed.”
“I let my team down,” he said. “I learned my lesson.”
“I’m not done with this sport,” he said.
Lochte also gave an interview to Brazil’s main broadcaster Globo on Saturday, during which he again said he “exaggerated” the events of that evening, adding he was “highly intoxicated.”
The Olympian added of the drama that ensued, “Brazil doesn’t deserve it. It was a wonderful Olympics. The people, the fans, everyone who worked on the Olympics was sensational.”
Asked by the Globo interviewer if he wanted to apologize, Lochte responded, “I am truly 110 percent sorry. It will never happen again…I want you to know that I love you, you treated me with great respect and I am very sorry that my immaturity caused all this mess. I’m sorry.”
Police in Rio de Janeiro recommended that Lochte and his teammate James Feigen be charged with false reporting. Feigen donated approximately $11,000 to charity to avoid prosecution.
Lochte’s two other teammates, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, returned home after giving statements to police and allege that Lochte pulled a poster off the gas station wall, sparking a confrontation with armed guards.
In a previous statement, Lochte has apologized for his behavior in a statement and said that he was traumatized by being out in a foreign country with a language barrier and having a stranger point a gun at him and demand money.