Shaun White‘s past came back to the forefront as the Olympic snowboarder earned a gold medal during the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. After referring to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him in 2016 as “gossip” during a press conference, White apologized during an interview on NBC’s Today with Savannah Guthrie.
“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip,” he said. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today, and I’m just truly sorry, and I was so overwhelmed in just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience.”
According to the 2016 complaint, posted online by NBC, lawyers for Lena Zawaideh, a former drummer in White’s Bad Things rock band, claimed he “repeatedly sexually harassed her” by sending “sexually explicit and graphic images to Zawaideh” and “[forcing] her to watch sexually disturbing videos.” The suit also stated White refused Zawaideh wages after firing her. Per The Associated Press, the suit was settled in May for an undisclosed amount with no wrongdoing admitted. In his initial response to the suit, White reportedly said, “Many years ago, I exchanged texts with a friend who is now using them to craft a bogus lawsuit.”
“I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip and stuff,” White told reporters during a press conference at the Olympics. But the athlete then told Guthrie on Today, “I’ve grown as a person over the years and it’s amazing — I mean, you’ve known me for a long time now — it’s amazing how life works and twists and turns and lessons learned. So every experience in my life I feel like it’s taught me a lesson and I definitely feel like I’m a much more changed person than I was when I was younger and, yeah, I’m proud of who I am today.”