Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee says she was pepper-sprayed in racist attack

A woman poses for a photo at the Met Gala.
Suni Lee attends the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sept. 13 in New York City.
Mike Coppola | Getty Images

Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee said she was pepper-sprayed on the arm during a racist attack while out with friends in Los Angeles.

Speaking to PopSugar, the St. Paul gymnast said that she was waiting for an Uber with her friends, all of Asian descent, when a group sped by in a car yelling racial slurs. One person in the car pepper-sprayed her on the arm, she said.

"I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," she told PopSugar. "I didn't do anything to them, and having the reputation, it's so hard because I didn't want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen.”

Lee is currently in Los Angeles competing in the latest season of "Dancing with the Stars." She told CNN the incident happened in October.

Reports of an anti-Asian incidents — from taunts to outright assaults — have skyrocketed in the United States.

Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that became the authority on gathering data on racially motivated attacks related to the pandemic, received 9,081 incident reports between March 19, 2020, and this June. Of those, 4,548 occurred last year, and 4,533 this year. Since the coronavirus was first reported in China, people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have been treated as scapegoats solely based on their race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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