Olympic Gold Medalist Klete Keller Pleads Guilty in Capitol Hill Riot Case

Olympic swimmer Klete Keller was seen on video showing rioters pushing back against police in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6, 2021.

By Cydney Contreras Sep 29, 2021 8:46 PMTags
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UPDATE: Close to nine months after participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots, Olympic swimmer Klete Keller has pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstructing an official proceeding. 

NBC News reports Keller appeared in federal court in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Sept. 29. In return for pleading guilty, the U.S. government dropped one felony charge and five misdemeanor counts against the former swimmer.

Keller's attorney told the judge, per NBC News, that his client "is trying to make amends for his terrible mistake" and "wants to start his life over."

Get more details on the case below. 


UPDATE: According to a criminal complaint obtained by E! News, Olympian Klete Keller was formally charged on Wednesday, Jan. 13 in a federal court with obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct. 

For more details on Keller's participation in the riots, read our story below.


Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller appears to have been present at the U.S. Capitol Hill riots on Wednesday, Jan. 6. 

In footage shared by a reporter for conservative commentary site Townhall, the former professional swimmer appears among a group of rioters pushing back against police in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. According to The New York Times, several former teammates and coaches of Keller said they recognized the athlete in the video because of his large stature and the Team USA jacket he was wearing.  

Jaw-Dropping Photos from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Those who recognized Keller told the NYT that they reported him to federal authorities, who have recently arrested individuals who allegedly participated in the destruction of federal property. 

Multiple sources told the NYT that Keller was a self-professed supporter of President Donald Trump on social media. However, the athlete, who went by the username @Kleteco on Instagram, has disabled his account. 

E! News reached out to the International Olympic Committee and Hoff & Leigh, where Keller is currently employed. Hoff & Leigh declined to comment on the matter, while the IOC did not respond to a request for comment. 

In a statement to E! News, a spokesperson for USA Swimming said, "We respect private individuals' and groups' rights to peacefully protest but in no way condone the actions taken by those at the Capitol last week."

In response to Keller's alleged actions, social media users are calling on the IOC to strip the swimmer of his medals. One tweet read, "This is simple. @TeamUSA, @USASwimming must insist  @olympics strip Klete Keller of his Olympic Swimming Medals. Today. He has dishonored his sport and his nation."

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Keller was a member of the USA swim team for three of the Olympic games from 2000 to 2008, during which he won five medals. He earned two gold medals when he participated in the 800 meter free relay with teammates Michael PhelpsRyan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics. The 2004 relay has since been named the Race of the Century. 

Following his time on the Olympic team, Keller faced adversity in his personal life, having divorced his wife in 2014.

In 2018, he told USA Swimming that he struggled to pay child support and lived out of his Ford Fusion, explaining, "I didn't know where to go, because I didn't really have anywhere to go, so I just traveled to see the most important people in my life, looking for advice and direction."

"Within a matter of a few years, I went from Olympic gold medalist to husband, homeowner, guy with a series of sales jobs—life insurance, software, medical devices, financial products—and father of three, and I had a really difficult time accepting who I was without swimming in my life," he told the organization at the time. "Swimmer had been my identity for most of my life, and then I quickly transitioned to other roles and never gave myself time to get comfortable with them. I really struggled with things. I didn't enjoy my work, and that unhappiness and lack of identity started creeping into my marriage."

Keller later found stability through his work as a real estate agent, with employer Hoff & Leigh describing the former pro athlete as "extremely driven" in his now-deleted profile on their website. 

(This story was originally published on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 3:52 p.m. PST.)