Shaun White apologizes for referring to sexual misconduct allegations as ‘gossip’

Shaun White apologizes for referring to sexual misconduct allegations as \'gossip\'
After flying high, Shaun White lands in hot water for dragging flag on the snow
nThe big moment for Shaun White came Tuesday (PST) when he delivered a dramatic performance on the halfpipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but it was his celebratory walk-off that landed him in hot water. Why? The American flag he was carrying touched the ground.

At a press conference moments later, White apologized for unknowingly doing so and that he didn’t mean to disrespect the flag. In America, stepping on the flag or letting it touch the ground is considered sacrilegious.

After yet another delay, Mikaela Shiffrin will make her PyeongChang debut three days after initially expected after the giant slalom race was postponed due to dangerous winds. Shiffrin is one of the biggest American stars of this year’s Winter Games since becoming the youngest Olympic slalom champion at 18 years old in 2014. Since Sochi, she continued making history by becoming the first woman to win three slalom world titles in 78 years. She could become the first woman to win the slalom gold medal in consecutive Olympic games.

After flying high, Shaun White lands in hot water for dragging flag on the snow

“I remember being handed the flag but I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and get the board,” he said. “Honestly, if there was anything, I definitely didn’t mean any disrespect.”

Shaun White Says He Regrets Past Behavior as Harassment Claims Resurface

That apology came at the same time as White faced questions about a sexual harassment lawsuit with a former bandmate that he settled last year. White avoided answering questions about the lawsuit, saying he wanted to focus on questions about the Olympics.

Mallon has more in-depth stats on his blog post, which I highly encourage you to keep tabs on if you’re an Olympics junkie. Mallon unfortunately was diagnosed with a small stroke while in South Korea and headed home for the remainder of the Games. He appears to be feeling better and tweeted a quote from 1912 Olympian George S. Patton explaining why he’s still blogging: “I love it. God help me, I do love it so.”

Related: Shaun White’s gold medal comes with scrutiny over sexual harassment settlement

If you’ve been having fun rooting for U.S. snowboarders, Mick Dierdorff and Hagen Kearney should be next on your list. They will go for gold in the snowboard cross final and appear to be long shots for the gold medal. Pierre Vaultier of France won the world championships last year and looks to defend his Olympic gold medal. Kearney was seventh at worlds last year. 

Even if momentarily, White’s flag-dragging incident sparked outrage from Americans watching as he walked off the halfpipe with the U.S. flag on hand, at times stepping on it. Some who saw it, including a former U.S. ambassador, took to Twitter to call on White to “show some respect.”

How Much Shaun White Is Worth

Despite the criticism, many people applauded him for bringing home a gold medal and dismissed the outcry as just another cry from an angry Twitter mob.

White is the wealthiest of the U.S. Olympians competing in the winter games this year, with some estimates putting his total net worth at $40 <a href="”>million. Even with bonuses from the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) for his performance at the PyeongChang Olympics, it’s hard to make that sort of coin riding a snowboard. Here’s how White has amassed such a fortune.

After apologizing for dragging the flag, White added that “the flag that’s flying on my house right now is way up there.”

White’s not afraid to lean on the power of the celebrity status he has built since his Olympic debut in 2006. In 2008, he signed a 10-year endorsement deal with Burton Snowboards. That same year he began a relationship with video game publisher Ubisoft for Shaun White Snowboarding, which went on to become a minor franchise.

“Sorry for that, but I’m definitely proud, very proud of being part of Team USA and being an American and representing everyone back home,” he said.

In 2017, White sold a four-bedroom house in Carlsbad, Calif. for $1.1 million, according to Variety. He also offloaded an oceanfront home in Encinitas, Calif. for $7.8 million. And a Hollywood Hills domicile (bought for $6.4 million in 2015) was sold to Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec for $6.7 million.

Shaun White was sued for sexual harassment. NBC would rather not talk about it.

What do you think — does Shaun White deserve a pass? Did he show disrespect to the flag? Are critics just overreacting?

Shaun White apologises for calling harassment claim gossip

Join me in a conversation: Shoot me a private email with your thoughts or ideas on a different approach to this story. As always, you can also send us a tweet.

His win this year could boost his endorsement value, but White might have hurt himself by dragging the U.S. flag on the ground after winning Tuesday night. Sexual harassment allegations against the Olympian, which first arose in 2016, have also come back into the spotlight during the winter games.

On the heels of his Olympic gold medal-winning run in South Korea on Wednesday, the snowboarder Shaun White was asked to contend with sexual harassment allegations that were leveled against him in 2016, immediately casting a shadow on the celebration.

Shaun White finds Olympic redemption isn’t so easy with #MeToo

Mr. White, 31, at first tried to minimize the claims when he was pressed by an ABC News reporter during a news conference after his victory on the men’s halfpipe.

Hirano can take solace in the fact that he solidified himself as one of the future faces of snowboarding. The 19-year-old nearly unseated an Olympian that he grew up watching. Although silver will feel like a consolation prize for someone as competitive (if understated) as Hirano clearly is, he’ll unquestionably be back on the scene, and soon.

When asked if the claims could damage his reputation, Mr. White said: “I don’t think so. I am who I am, and I’m proud of who I am.”

Shaun White says he used ‘poor choice of words’ in dismissing past harassment claims

“My friends, you know, love me and vouch for me, and I think that stands on its own,” he added.

Hirano wasn’t the only one who believed it was a coin flip. Bronze medalist Scotty James — a bitter rival of White’s — cryptically said that “It could have gone either way” when he was asked about the scoring, via The Washington Post.

Shaun White’s Dad Said He Never Saw His Son Cry Until Emotional, Historic Olympic Win

Shaun White on if he thinks the sexual harassment allegations against him will tarnish his legacy: “You know, honestly, here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip.”

The reporter tried to push the issue, but the event director, Nick Alexakos, put a stop to the questioning.

This moment, as both White and NBC will tell you at a moment’s notice, was a long time in the making. After White dominated the sport with two back-to-back gold medals in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, he faltered in 2014, coming in a disappointing fourth place. In the fall of 2017, he crashed into the halfpipe on a practice run in New Zealand, eventually requiring 62 stitches in his face just months before he was set to return to the Olympics. So in 2018, 12 years after he first hit the Olympics slopes with his signature tomato red hair flying through the frigid air, a more subdued and determined 31-year-old White took to the slopes with a purpose: to reclaim the gold medal he had let slip through his fingers four years ago.

Shortly after, Mr. White made a guest appearance on the “Today” show and apologized for his word choice during the conference.

That answer did not, in fact, stand on its own, since the reporter who initially asked the question tried to follow up by asking if “gossip” is truly how White sees allegations that resulted in a public lawsuit. The moderator in turn cut off the reporter by responding that “we’re here to talk about the gold medal and the amazing day we had today” — a line he repeated when the next journalist tried to ask the same question. (For what it’s worth, USA Today reporter Christine Brennan has since said that not one female journalist got to ask White a question throughout the 13-minute press conference, despite many having their hands in the air.)

“I’m truly sorry that I used the word ‘gossip’,” he said. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today.”

In 2016, White’s former bandmate Lena Zawaideh sued him for wrongful termination and sexual harassment. The suit alleged that White had “repeatedly sexually harassed her and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years,” leading to her abrupt dismissal from the band in 2014 without the payment she was owed. Zawaideh said that White forced her to watch sexually explicit videos against her wishes, texted and spoke degrading comments to her, and “at one point, White stuck his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face trying to make her smell them.”

“I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience,” he said.

The Latest: Shaun White’s Olympic gold a highlight of Day 5

“I’ve grown as a person over the years,” he went on. “Every experience in my life, I feel like it’s taught me a lesson. And I definitely feel like I am a much more changed person than I was when I was younger.”

On Wednesday, in a statement to The New York Times, Mr. White said: “Representing Team U.S.A. at the Olympics in a sport that I love is a true honor, and I was thrilled to win gold. I regret my behavior of many years ago and am sorry that I made anyone — particularly someone I considered a friend — uncomfortable. I have grown and changed as a person, as we all grow and change, and am proud of who I am today.”

In 2016, Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer of Mr. White’s rock band Bad Things, filed a lawsuit against him claiming that he had sexually harassed her and tried for years to “impose a strict regime” over her, asking her to cut her hair and to wear revealing clothing and underwear.

According to the suit, Mr. White made vulgar sexual remarks to her, sent her sexually explicit images of “engorged and erect penises” and forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos.

Shaun White Takes another Gold Medal

The suit, which refers to Mr. White as the “face of modern extreme sports,” also alleged breach of contract and wrongful termination from the band.

Shaun White apologizes amid resurfaced sexual misconduct allegations

A person close to Mr. White said that Mr. White believed at the time the messages that he was exchanging with Ms. Zawaideh were consensual, and said that Ms. Zawaideh reciprocated.

A representative for Ms. Zawaideh said Friday that she was not available for comment.

The revelation of Ms. Zawaideh’s accusations against Mr. White, who has earned three Olympic gold medals in his career, comes amid the #MeToo movement, which has catalyzed women to share their stories of mistreatment with a goal of holding men in power accountable.

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