Shaun White’s press conference got uncomfortable.
On Tuesday night, Shaun White claimed the gold medal in the snowboard halfpipe competition with a near-perfect final run. With a score of 97.75, White claimed his third lifetime Olympic gold medal in the snowboard halfpipe.
As is customary following the event, White held a press conference to talk about the win. During this press conference, White was asked about a sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed against him by a former bandmate in 2016.
The lawsuit was settled out of court and largely fell out of the news cycle until White’s gold medal run in the halfpipe competition late Tuesday night. In 2016, White was sued by former bandmate Lena Zawaideh for sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and wage nonpayment, among other things.
The story resurfaced late Tuesday night as White was winning gold. Zawaideh alleges White sent a series of lewd and demeaning text messages to her during their seven years as bandmates.
White was asked about the lawsuit during his press conference on Tuesday night and whether or not it would tarnish his reputation. His response caused a fair amount of controversy.
“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff. I don’t think so… I’m proud of who I am. My friends, you know, love me and vouch for me. I believe that stands for itself,” White responded.
According to several reporters present at the press conference, no female reporters were called on to ask questions. The press conference was reportedly cut short when White left for the medal ceremony.
Shaun White just called the awful allegations against him “gossip” in a press conference where no woman journalist was called upon even though several, including me, had their hand up the entire time. #MeToo
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 14, 2018
A few hours later, White appeared on NBC’s Today show and issued an apology for his “poor” choice of words. Here’s the apology.
“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
We’ll keep you updated on the situation.