Jimmy Feigen says Brazil officials tried to extort him for $46,000
U.S. Olympic swimmer Jimmy Feigen, one of the four athletes who were involved in the gas station incident in Rio, says Brazilian officials tried to get him to pay a fine of more than $46,000 before he left the country.
In a statement he released late Tuesday night, Feigen gave his account of what happened during the infamous incident and in the days after. After it had been determined that the swimmers lied about being pulled over in a taxi and robbed, Feigen says prosecutors asked him to pay $31,500 to get his passport back so he could return to the United States. When his lawyers refused, the fine was raised to $46,875.
Feigen says he was told by officials that he could either pay the fine or remain in Brazil throughout the full investigation, which prosecutors said could take a month. Eventually, he agreed to pay a lesser amount so he could return home.
“Finally, all parties agreed to a $10,800.00 fine,” Feigen said. “I was able to contact my family in the United States along with my American attorneys and we were able to satisfy the payment of the fine the next day. My passport was returned to me after payment was received, and I was able to return home.”
As for what actually happened at the gas station, Feigen says the four swimmers did not force their way into a bathroom as has been reported. He did, however, admit they urinated behind the building.
“We pulled over to a gas station to use the bathroom but the door was locked,” he explained. “We did not force entry into the bathroom, nor did we ever enter the bathroom. We did, however, make the regrettable decision to urinate in the grass behind the building.”
Feigen also said Ryan Lochte pulled a poster off the wall, which Feigen and teammate Gunnar Bentz ended up paying for.
“On our way back to the cab, Ryan Lochte pulled a poster in a metal frame off a wall,” he said. “I got back into the cab and waited for the others. One of my teammates told me that a man with a gun was standing outside the cab. The man with the gun spoke with the cab driver, who got out of the cab. We then got out of the cab and I paid the driver the fare. As I walked away, the man with the gun pointed it at me and my teammates and ordered us, in Portuguese, to sit. This was the first time I have ever had a gun pointed at me and I was terrified.”
While the four swimmers have not received much sympathy for obvious reasons, it sounds clear they were victims of extortion — both at the gas station and when dealing with Brazilian officials. It’s also clear that Lochte, who recently had an interesting revelation about why he lied, made the situation worse than it had to be.