Ryan Lochte’s ‘Dancing’ Partner Says ‘Heart Is Aching’ After Incident

Ryan Lochte Cheryl Burke
Courtesy of ABC

Ryan Lochte’s partner is speaking out after Monday’s “Dancing with the Stars” protest that took everyone — dancers, audience and at-home viewers — by surprise.

Dancer Cheryl Burke had finished her routine with the Olympian and were receiving the judges’ feedback when two men — identified as Sam Sotoodeh, 59, and Barzeen Soroudi, 25 — ran onto the dance floor sporting anti-Lochte t-shirts. A security guard immediately tacked Sotoodeh, pushing aside a visibly shocked Lochte and Burke in the process.

Watch the incident unfold from camera perspectives that weren’t shown on air.

In the post, Burke thanked the “Dancing with the Stars” fans and security team, writing: “I’m still trying to process everything that happened last night. My heart is aching for Ryan and his family. No one deserves that sort of behavior directed at them. We all need to love each other and not be bullies or cowards. Let’s all just be positive for each other.”


Judge Carrie Ann Inaba, whose feedback was interrupted by the incident, tweeted after the show that the incident “scary.”

In addition to the two men, a group of four female protesters were also in the audience. Pro dancer Derek Hough confronted them and told them to get out.

As we previously reported, show producers have eyed increased security for Ryan Lochte following the incident. Both Sotoodeh and Soroudi were taken into custody by LAPD. There have been previously unexpected moments on the live show — notably Marie Osmond passing out after performing — but none have been security incidents.

‘Dancing With the Stars’ 2016 Cast

“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays on ABC at 8/7c.