From Olympic athletes to politicians, what's in a lie?

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2016, file photo, United States' Ryan Lochte competes in the men's 200-meter individual medley final during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

In one of the biggest scandals to rock the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games, U.S. gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte admittedly embellished a story that he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint.

It turns out, the four may have been stopped by security after vandalizing a business, but details of what took place are still emerging and witnesses are still coming forward.

The incident, however, has prompted many to wonder why Lochte chose to lie or “embellish” some of the details in the first place.

“Most people lie because they don’t anticipate being caught and most people aren’t caught, but the thing is that when they do get caught, you know, it’s problematic,” said Richard Vatz, professor of rhetoric and mass communication at Towson University in Maryland.

Lochte has already suffered the ire of social media in the aftermath of the ordeal.

Speedo and Ralph Lauren pulled away lucrative sponsorship deals, and the U.S. Olympic Committee has indicated there could be further consequences coming.

But when we look at the Lochte incident and then move over to politics, the consequences of lying can be hit or miss.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a crowd at a Charlotte, North Carolina, rally last week, “I will always tell you the truth,” at the end of a speech that included Trump taking responsibility for some of his past rhetoric.

Over the past week, however, Trump has been given 15 Pinnochios from The Washington Post's Fact Checker Blog for several claims the paper looked into.

Earlier this summer, the Trump campaign revoked The Washington Post's press credentials.

Trump also received PolitiFact's Lie of the Year Award for 2015 – chosen for his claims during the presidential primary season of seeing videos of Muslim Americans cheering in the streets during 9/11.

Yet, Trump still came out from a field of 17 candidates to claim the Republican nomination.

“As much as we say we don’t want people to lie, we don’t really hold it against people if they don’t lie to us,” Vatz said, pointing out that people are less likely to take offense to a lie if it isn’t told directly to them.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has received three Pinnochios from The Washington Post over the past week.

However, new information continues to emerge from her use of a private email server back when she was secretary of state.

Several of her claims, made last year just before she entered the presidential race, have been disproved.

At a United Nations press conference in March 2015, Clinton said of her personal email vetting process, “We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work-related emails and delivered them to the State Department.”

Yet, when FBI Director James Comey held a press conference in July announcing there would be no charges against Clinton in the matter, he said, “The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related emails that were not among the group of 30,000 emails returned by Secy. Clinton.”

Vatz says that voters who like either candidate are not going to be easily affected by these contradictions and the underlying reason is simple: “Hillary Clinton lies. Donald Trump lies ... We all do it, and that’s the truth.”

In a poll conducted by Ipsos in early 2016, 64 percent of Americans said it is sometimes OK to lie, if there is justification. That total was up from 42 percent 10 years ago.

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