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 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.
Related: Shaun White’s gold medal comes with scrutiny over sexual harassment settlement
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.
After apologizing for dragging the flag, White added that “the flag that’s flying on my house right now is way up there.”
“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.
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
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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.
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.
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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.” pic.twitter.com/45I1DjTB2u
The reporter tried to push the issue, but the event director, Nick Alexakos, put a stop to the questioning.
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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