With Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey about to air — and it’s not known yet if he will apologize for taking banned substances — we look back at 10 confessions and apologies among well-known public figures, in no particular order.
Remember when Kanye West apologized to Taylor Swift for interrupting her acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards? He was reduced to tears when he appeared on late-night television with Jay Leno.
Former Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer, who was then 72, made a tearful apology to fans after he charged the mound with Pedro Martinez pitching and was thrown to the ground in an embarrassing melee during the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox.
In one of the oddest apology scenes, Michael Richards, who played the comic figure Kramer in the Seinfeld series, went on David Letterman in November 2006 and spoke via satellite with Jerry Seinfeld sitting next to Letterman. Richards admitted he had “lost my temper” in a comedy club and went into a rage, screaming racist epithets. “I’m busted up over this,” he said to nervous laughter in the audience.
David Letterman, who makes a living poking fun at others, was not immune to his own bad behaviour in 2009. He issued an apology to his wife, his staff and Late Show fans over his admission that he had sex with members of his staff. One affair led to a blackmail plot against him. “My wife has been horribly hurt by my behaviour,” he told fans. “I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
Perhaps the most stunning apology and revelation occurred when golf great Tiger Woods apologized for cheating on his wife in 2010. His wife later divorced him. “Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behaviour.”
Actor and director Mel Gibson went on Good Morning America and gave a long-winded description of his drunken anti-Semitic tirade in 2006 after he was pulled over for speeding in Malibu. This interview with Diane Sawyer was more an account of the episode rather than an outright apology. “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” he had said, according to a police report. In the interview, he told Sawyer: “I’m ashamed of that. That’s not who I am.”
Drugs were the reason for another sports apology. Olympic champion runner Marion Jones apologized for using drugs in 2011. “It’s with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you I have betrayed your trust.” She pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal agents. “I have no one to blame but myself,” she added.
Politics seems to be a hotbed for sexual transgressions, and in 2008, then New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer apologized for being involved in a prostitution ring. His wife was at his side as he read from a prepared statement. The apology was short, and he didn’t take any questions afterwards. There were no tears.
Social media and politics make strange bedfellows. In 2011, then Rep. Anthony Weiner gave a tearful apology after he admitted to tweeting inappropriate photos of himself to young women who were not his wife. He resigned from Congress after the sexting scandal.