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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 12, 2018 12:37am-1:07am EST

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[ cheers and applause ] this is "nightline." >> tonight, ice follies. she headlined one of the biggest scandals in sports history. >> there's been a violent attack on an american athlete. >> why? >> tonya harding painted as a villain for nearly 25 years. >> they think that they knew the story, and that i was bad, and i did something bad. >> now the former olympian telling her story. >> were you ever jealous of nancy? >> the surprising admission. >> i did overhear them talking, "well maybe we should take somebody out." i go, "what the hell are you talking about? i can skate." >> and
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relationship with her mother. >> when i'm being a bitch, people will know where i got it from. >> first the "nightline 5." we do whatever it takes to fight cancer. these are the specialists we're proud to call our own. experts from all over the world working closely together to deliver truly personalized cancer care. expert medicine works here. learn more at cancercenter.com. feel the power of theraflu express max. new power to fight back. theraflu's powerful new formula to defeat seven cold and flu symptoms fast so you can play
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good evening. thanks for joining us.
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former figure skater ton that harding has been portrayed as an american villain whose ex-husband arranged a savage attack on her competitor, nancy kerrigan, to help her earn a spot on the olympic team. but tonight she tells abc's amy robach that tonya is not the real tonya. >> enough apologizing. she's got her life, i've got my life. we both have wonderful lives. and that should be all that matters. >> reporter: tonya harding, a name synonymous with scandal, once an olympic darling known for that brett-taking triple axel jump. until the scandal that would rock american figure skating. >> why? why? >> reporter: it's been 24 years since the infamous attack on nancy kerrigan. now all these years later, tonya harding is back in the spotlight with the movie about her
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"i, tonya." margot robbie plays harding. >> i never did this. >> reporter: despite the passage of time, we had to ask the question everyone wants to know. was she aware of the brutal attack on kerrigan beforehand? the one master minded by her ex-husband, jeff galuli? you never said to jeff, "let's do this"? >> no. no. >> he never asked your permission? >> no. >> you were never part of the planning? >> no. i did, however, overhear them talking about stuff where, "well, maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure she gets on the team." and i remember telling them, i go, "what the hell are you talking about? i can skate." >> you heard them talking about doing something to someone before the attack on nancy, but nothing specific? >> this was like a month or two months before. they were talking about skating and saying, "maybe somebody shou b
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can make it." >> why? >> it makes you cringe hearing it. because you know how much that it had to have hurt. and why someone would do this. what are they after? >> reporter: the attack on kerrigan would become one of the greatest scandals in sports history. >> the press threw me to the wolves. pretty much everybody treated me like i was nothing. >> got something to say? >> no, i'm afraid she doesn't. >> out of my way. don't touch my truck. >> i have no comment. >> why do you think that happened? >> because they think that they knew the story. and that i was bad. and i did something bad. >> and you've been punished for 23 years? >> isn't that what you believe? >> reporter: harding grew up in portland, oregon. tell me about your childhood. you grew up in portland? >> all over portland. we moved 13 different times before i was in fifth grade. >> she grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. she
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single thing she got. she had to make her own clothes. she was poor. >> reporter: at a young age, she found her escape in figure skating. what was it about skating? >> i always thought that it was just so beautiful. being out there and just doing your thing. i caught on very fast. and then it just became something that, you know, turned out to be a gift from god. >> i was working right around the clock, morning, noon and night, trying to get the money for her to skate and to have lessons. >> reporter: the movie starring margot robbie as harding tells harding's hard luck life story. >> it was never about altering peeps perception of her or saying, she's a victim or she's a hero. it was just about showing her as a human. >> reporter: but her early life was marked by often tumultuous and allegedly abusive relationships, like with her mother. how would you describe your mom as a mother? >> not a good one.
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that she probably could. >> does she get any credit for that? >> oh, she gets credit. when i'm being a bitch, people will know where i got it from. >> i made you a champion. knowing you'd hate me for it. that's the sacrifice a mother majors. >> reporter: allison janney plays harding's mother. >> i almost wanted to cry, i felt so bad that she had experienced that kind of mother. >> you're a monster. >> spilled milk, baby. >> there was this fantastic documentary made about tonya harding when she was 15 called "sharp edges." speaking very candidly, she's very vulnerable. >> i got half credit for it, mom. >> what did you make of that phone call? >> it does have my favorite line of the whole documentary, maybe my favorite line tonya's ever said. she hangs up the phone she goes -- >> what a bitch. >> it's hilarious, but it's also her covering for the fact that she's so deeply hurt. >> she's not a good mother. she hits me and she
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>> i remember she drug me into the bathroom. and beat me with a hairbrush. >> i remember distinctly one time at a competition, they called her on the ice three times and she still sitting there going like this. i'm saying, stop it. i went like that with the brush and finished up her hair and said, okay, get. >> she says the abuse you've described never actually occurred. >> really? >> what is your response to that? >> take a lie detector, biatch. >> i didn't abuse any of my children. spanked, yes. she's lied so much, she doesn't know what isn't a lie anymore. >> reporter: on the ice harding was a rebel with an edge not typical in the figure skating world. >> i can be a tomboy and wear levis, boots, flannel shirt, then i can dress up and wear something like this. >> tell me about the first time you met jeff. >> met at the rink, he was watching me skate. i was like, oh my god, there's a
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>> how old were you? >> 15. >> you fell for the first guy who told you you were pretty. >> yes. >> because you were 15. >> yes. >> anything else about him attractive to you? >> he had a job. and a car. >> reporter: a romance took off. just as harding's career began to flourish, thanks to that secret weapon in her arsenal. >> she was athletic, she could slump and do the triple axel. she could jump like nobody else could jump. >> what ever made you think that you could do that? >> what makes people think i can't? >> when she does those sweet half revolutions in the air -- >> and it was like, bam. i was like, yes! >> i watched that footage a thousand times. every time it makes me grin. >> tell me what you were thinking. >> holy [ bleep ], i just did it. >> if we could stop her story
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the happiest stories you could ever see. >> reporter: but as is so often the case with harding, her story did not stop there. it was still just the beginning. >> jeff became as controlling as anyone else that had been in the picture that was trying to control tonya. after she won nationals, money started coming in. and offers and commercials and things like that. and i'm sure he saw dollar bills. >> do you remember the first time he hit you? >> one that sticks out in my head, we were at the 7-eleven. and i got nachos. and he said that they would make me fat. and he hit them out of my hand. and then he grabs me and says, let's go. and bam! >> reporter: harding's ex-husband jeff told abc news, "tonya said so many things and lied so much, it's not even worth trying to respond to them." >> she married him, then she got separated from him. she got a court order to keep him away from her. and then she
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again. tonya is a mess. >> reporter: back on the ice, harding's performance began to falter. >> she's the only american woman ever to land this jump in competition, a triple axel. and she cannot land that one. >> reporter: at the 1992 olympics, she finishes fourth, right behind nancy kerrigan. harding wasn't ready to hang up her skates and desperately wanted to make the '94 olympic team. she needed to secure one of the two slots at the u.s. nationals. her main competition, nancy kerrigan. >> there's been a violent attack on an american athlete, nancy kerrigan -- >> struck several times about the legs with an instrument which was described as a billy club or a tie iron -- >> i was scared. >> for your own safety? >> yes. and anybody else's. i mean, this had never happened. >> reporter: by the next day, nancy kerrigan was out of the competition. >> i really want to skate today. but the doctors all sai
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shouldn't. >> sad. >> but she was 84 competition. >> competitors, yes. rivals, no. >> was there any part of you that felt relief that you wouldn't have to compete against her to get on the team? >> absolutely not. >> so you didn't think, with her out of the competition, victory was yours? >> no. it's not. any of us could have won. any of us could have failed. >> reporter: with kerrigan on the sidelines, tonya harding soared to victory, clinching a spot on the olympic team. >> yeah, i won. but that's because nobody else did what i did. and as good as i did. so i deserved to win. >> reporter: but her celebration would be short-lived, as the mystery of who was behind nancy kerrigan's brazen attack quickly unraveled. when we come back. okay, i never thought i'd say this, but i found bladder leak underwear that's actually pretty. surprised? it's called always discreet boutique. it looks and fits like my underwear.
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"nightline" continues with amy robach. >> reporter: even as tonya harding basked in the glory of being the national champion -- >> congratulations. >> thank you. >> reporter: rumors swirled around the 23-year-old's possible involvement in kerrigan's attack. >> someone in oregon may have ties to the assault on kerrigan. >> reporter: law enforcement started questioning sean eckert, who called him harding's bodyguard, who quickly admitted he hired the man who clubbed kerrigan's knee. >> no bodyguard, are you kidding me? he's dumb as a post. >> reporter: he implicates jeff galuli, harding's ex-husband, claiming he was the one who orchestrated the whole thing. >> tell me whether or not you had anything to do with this
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whole thing. >> no, no i didn't. >> you weren't suspicious at all? >> not at that time. it was like within -- like that next five days or something. he started acting funny. and i remember asking him, what is going on? do you know something that you're not saying? >> it is a crazy time. they are ostensibly keeping in front. >> how are you feeling? >> been a long week. >> do you know how to deal with these guys? >> reporter: under pressure he accepts a plea bargain claiming hard cag new about the attack and gave the final sign-off. >> for several weeks the skater tonya harding has denied she knew anything at all about the attack on nancy kerrigan. today ms. harding admitted that was not quite true. >> i'd like to begin by saying how sorry i am. i had no prior knowledge of the planned assault. i am responsible, however, for failing to report things i learned about the assault when i
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returned home from nationals. >> reporter: despite her admission just before the olympics, harding is still allowed to skate and so is kerrigan. the united states figure skating association holding a spot for her. >> i didn't want to think about anything except my skating. i just wanted people to leave me the hell alone. >> reporter: when the two women finally meet in lillehammer, it had become a media frenzy unlike anything in the history of the olympics. kerrigan, after suffering that potentially career-ending injury, delivers a stunning performance. >> beautifully done! >> reporter: harding falls apart. >> no. >> reporter: kerrigan goes on to win silver, harding finishes a disappointing eighth. >> i went out, i did the best that i could under all circumstances. and you know what? i did well. i did great. i did all the jumps they did. at least i got to go skate one last time. for myself and for my co
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>> back up, guys! >> that big luge balloon of olympic fever, it busts. >> is it true you're not going to skate in japan? >> now you've got to come home and face the music. and the courts are coming at you. >> reporter: authorities discovered a note with the name of the arena where kerrigan practiced. they say written in harding's handwriting. evidence, they say, harding was involved in the plot. >> so that note they found in the dumpster? >> my writing was on a piece of paper. i did not write, what did you say it was? >> the rink where she was skating and her practice times. >> i did not write that. nobody wanted to ever believe me. >> the idea that she wasn't a willing and able participant in this conspiracy is simply nonsense. >> reporter: ultimately, she would plead guilty to hindering the prosecution. >> a dramatic deal com
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a late afternoon court hearing today -- >> i'd just like to say that i'm really sorry i interfered. >> what specifically legally did you admit to? >> hindering prosecution. >> hindering prosecution was basically admission that she had conspired to cover up the crime after it occurred. the case against her, while good, was not as good as it was against the other members of the conspiracy. >> reporter: she is sentenced to three years' probation, a fine, community service, and most painfully, the united states figure skating association stripped harding of one of her two championship titles and then banned her for life from skating. what would have been justice, do you think? >> i don't know. have no idea. all i wanted to do was skate. >> you'd be surprised how tough i really am. >> reporter: in the years that follow she lands a small part in the movie "breakaway." and became a celebrity boxer.
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>> i did that for money, to help pay my bills, stay in shape. i like boxing. it's interesting. but -- oh, man. it's brutal. >> reporter: kerrigan returned to the spotlight on season 24 of "dancing with the stars" in 2017. ♪ last year kerrigan spoke with "nightline" anchor juju chang about the incident 24 years ago. do you feel like there has been an apology? >> we were at an event four years after i was attacked. and we both spoke with james brown. >> nancy, i want to apologize again for being in the wrong place at the wrong time around the wrong people. >> it was very awkward and strange. i mean, it's so old. it doesn't matter. at this point. >> enough apologizing. she's got her life, i've got my life. we both have won
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and that should be all that matters. >> reporter: harding is now happily remarried and has a 6-year-old son. >> i've been with my husband for seven years. with my husband and my son, i get my second chance in life to be loved and be happy. >> reporter: she's back on the ice, her sanctuary as she calls it, and says she mostly has no regrets. >> i don't look back anymore, unless i'm forced to. i'm very blessed. because my whole life, i would not change anything. >> not one thing? >> well, i mean -- one thing. but from my point of view, i wouldn't change anything. because i wouldn't be where i am today. i've been through hell and back. and i can go there many times and i'll always make it back. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm amy robach in portland, oregon.
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>> our thanks to amy robach and her brilliant team. up next, a 6-year-old shot in the texas church massacre finally leaving the hospital today and doing it in style. ugh man, my sinuses. it's like my head's in a fog. i mean, could you be any more dramatic? i've had it. i'm taking mucinex sinus-max. eh, that stuff's all the same. this is different. it fights pressure, pain, and congestion. a-thank you. those are my 3 best qualities. get the straps. carl? you know that i get carsick! carl mucinex sinus-max. with a triple-action formula that fights pain, congestion, & pressure. start the relief. ditch the misery. let's end this. are cream conditioners bringing your hair down? switch to new pantene light as air foam conditioner, full of rich pro-v nutrients.
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finally tonight, a truly heartwarming moment in sutherland springs, texas. 6-year-old ryland ward, a survivor of the devastating mass shooting at the church there, finally returning home. giving him a lift,us
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the first responder who pulled ryland to safety back in november. u.s. y and ryland forging a bond in the hospital where ryland spent two long months, including his birthday, recovering from multiple gunshot wounds. today it seems the entire town came out to welcome him. welcome home. thanks for watching "nightline." as always, we're online at our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america. >> when i tell people i host this show, they always ask me, what's my favorite question? well, it's one i hope i get a chance to ask someone today: how's it feel to win $1 million? it's time to play "who wants to be a millionaire." [dramati
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♪ i hope i ask this guy that question in just a little bit. >> so do i. >> welcome to the show. are you guys ready to go today? [cheers and applause] good. we're in the middle of a great game. i'm here with christian sorge, our returning contestant, who's a bit of a gambler. took some chances in our last game and he has gambled his way to $20,000. lots in the bank. >> not bad. >> that puts you six questions away from $1 million. >> wow. >> and even closer, you're just two questions away from that $50,000 threshold, so couple big stops along the way. the only downside, if there is one, no lifelines. >> right. >> so no net. >> nope. >> just you and i out here. >> you, me, and that board. >> and the beard. >> yes, and the beard, 'course. >> just you, me, and beard. and $1 million. coming to cinema this summer. [laughter] all right, let's get back to your game. you ready to go? >> i'm ready, let's do this.

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