Tom Sandoval Apologizes for O.J. Simpson and George Floyd Comparisons

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Tom Sandoval Reacts to Backlash Over George Floyd Comment

Tom Sandoval admits he made a mistake. 

The Vanderpump Rules star apologized after receiving backlash for comparing the media scrutiny he faced for his 2023 affair with costar Rachel “Raquel” Leviss to the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial and the 2020 murder of George Floyd

“My intentions behind the comments I made in New York Times Magazine were to explain the level of national media attention my affair received,” Sandoval said in a Feb. 20 statement to E! News. “The comparison was inappropriate and ignorant.”

Sandoval went on to add that he was “incredibly sorry and embarrassed.” 

Sandoval’s backtracking arrived hours after The New York Times Magazine published an interview in which the reality star compared the public’s reaction to his split with Ariana Madix—who broke up with him after nine years of dating when she caught him cheating on her with Leviss—to those of Simpson and Floyd.

“I’m not a pop-culture historian really,” Sandoval said in the interview, “but I witnessed the O.J. Simpson thing and George Floyd and all these big things, which is really weird to compare this to that, I think, but do you think in a weird way it’s a little bit the same?” 

The 41-year-old also went on to assert he “got more hate” than That 70’s Show alum Danny Masterson—who is currently serving 30 years to life in prison for rape—in the aftermath of his breakup from Madix.  

Photo by FOX via Getty Images

At the time, a publicist present at the interview urged readers to take Scandoval’s words with a grain of salt, noting, “Sometimes he says too much and the following day he forgets what he says.”  

And while Sandoval showed remorse for making those statements in the end, he didn’t express regret over his affair with Leviss. 

“I did what I did because I was in an unhappy place in my life,” he explained to the magazine. “I got caught up in my emotions and fully fell in love. Like, for real.”

Keep reading for a full breakdown of Scandoval and Leviss’ cheating scandal. 

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family)

Getty Images

Summer 2013

After Tom Sandoval‘s dramatic relationship with co-star Kristen Doute came to an end, Ariana Madix joined the cast of Vanderpump Rules in season two. At the time, Kristen alleged that Tom and Ariana had hooked up while she and Tom were still together. “I’m smarter than you,” Ariana infamously responded. “I’m prettier than you. Get the f–k over it.”

Both Tom and Ariana denied the allegations, though he later admitted that the pair had made out in a pool while they were both in Las Vegas. 

Nicole Weingart/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

February 2014

During the season two reunion, Tom and Ariana confirmed that they were dating. “We’ve definitely been hanging out,” Tom said. “And things have been great.” On the same night the episode aired, both SUR bartenders made their relationship Instagram official.

lison Buck/WireImage

February 2015

Kristen said in season three that a woman reached out to her on Instagram claiming to have hooked up with Tom while he was in Miami with Jax Taylor and Tom Schwartz. Kristen even brought the woman into SUR to confront Tom and Ariana, but the couple didn’t take the allegations seriously, with Tom denying he cheated on Ariana.

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November 2016

After meeting DJ James Kennedy at a New Year’s Eve party, beauty pageant contestant and student Raquel Leviss made her VPR debut in the season five premiere. Two years, later, the couple moved in together, despite multiple women who worked at SUR alleging that they hooked up with James while he was dating Raquel. At the time, James denied the claims. After she began working at SUR as a waitress, Raquel became a Vanderpump Rules series regular in season nine. 

Instagram

February 2019

Tom and Ariana bought their first home together in Valley Village, Calif., finally moving out of the West Hollywood apartment that infamously could not have the air conditioner and microwave working at the same time without causing a power outage.

The couple purchased the five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom, 4,500-square-foot farmhouse-style property for just over $2 million, according to Bravo TV.

Instagram

May 2021

To pop the question to Raquel, James staged a a Coachella-themed proposal, which was documented by Bravo’s cameras and aired in October.

“James proposed at the iconic Empire Polo Fields of ‘RACHELLA’ Friday night…,” Raquel wrote on Instagram. “And I said YES! I’m over the Coachella moon.” James also announced the news on social media, writing, “THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, said yes.”

It was later revealed during an episode of VPR that Tom Sandoval helped pay for the elaborate engagement. “James and I split the $25k,” he explained, “because nothing brings me more joy than to help a friend accomplish a dream that they have.”

Todd Williamson/Bravo

December 2021

After five years together, James and Raquel ended their engagement, just one week after filming the season nine reunion.

“After these 5 wonderful years we had together, we decided we have two different goals and made the decision to call off the engagement,” the former couple said in a joint statement on their separate Instagram pages. “We love each other very much, but we aren’t in love anymore. We want nothing but the best for each other so please keep any thoughts positive.”

Raquel later revealed why she chose to end their relationship. 

“It was getting to the point where my family and him were not meshing well,” she explained during he Jan. 7 episode of the Scheananigans with Scheana Shay podcast. “The future of Thanksgivings and Christmases and holidays was looking like it was going to be either James or my family,” she said. “Especially like if we had a baby. Foreseeing this future and what it was all coming down to and I was like…I don’t want that.”

For his part, James went Instagram official with his new girlfriend Ally Lewber in March 2022, who is now featured on the show. 

Instagram

April 2022

One month after Katie Maloney and Tom Schwartz announced they were breaking up after 12 years together, it was reported that Schwartz was spotted making out with Raquel at the Coachella.

However, the Schwartz & Sandy’s co-owner was quick to set the record straight. “Guys hate to break it to you but I wasn’t at Coachella,” he tweeted at the time.

Raquel did attend the music festival and posted photos on Instagram posing with Tom Sandoval and Ariana. “I’m on an island,” she captioned a selfie with Sandoval.

Instagram

August 2022

Even though it was Scheana Shay‘s big day when she married Brock Davies at a lavish wedding in Cancun, Mexico, rumors of a makeout session between Schwartz and Raquel at the ceremony dominated headlines. Footage from the trailer for season 10 confirmed the hookup happened and Schwartz admitted that his friendship with Raquel had evolved into more of a “flirtationship” after the nuptials.

“We have, like, a connection,” Schwartz told E! News’ Erin Lim Rhodes in October. “Yes, me and Raquel have gotten much closer. I have a great appreciation for her. I’ve gotten to know her, and I’ve gotten to see all these different facets of her personality I didn’t know existed…I didn’t realize how f–king funny Raquel is—and witty.”

Instagram

October 2022

Amid her ongoing rift with Katie regarding her relationship with Schwartz, Raquel’s decision to wear a TomTom sweatshirt to BravoCon on Oct. 17 created questions.

“Just came here to say that the number one reason I wore this TomTom sweatshirt on Day 3 of BravoCon was for the comfy vibes,” Raquel later explained on Instagram. “I also wore it to support BOTH of the Toms and encouraged people to stop by their booth to check out the rest of the cute merch. I really enjoy supporting my friends and being comfy at the same time.” She also added the hashtags “sue me” and “number one Tom Stan.”

Then, for Halloween, Sandoval dressed up as Raquel at BravoCon, wearing the sweatshirt, a blonde wig and sunglasses. In an Instagram Story, he shared a photo of himself in costume with the caption, “Raquel has got to stop showing up to TomTom it’s embarrassing.”

Bravo; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration

January 2023

Ariana addressed the speculation that she and Tom have an “open relationship,” which was teased in the explosive season 10 trailer.

“We dont have an open relationship. i’m really not that cool. thought that was obvious,” she tweeted after the preview dropped, adding that “bisexual ≠ polyamorous.”

Raquel’s hookup with Tom Schwartz was addressed in the sneak peek, as well, with Raquel admitting, “I do like Schwartz a lot.” Raquel’s makeout session with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Garcelle Beauvais‘ son Oliver Saunders and dates with recurring cast member Peter Madrigal also make it into the preview.

Bravo

March 3, 2023

The Bravo world was rocked on March 3 when it was confirmed that Tom Sandoval and Ariana had broken up after nine years together, with an insider telling E! News that cameras were rolling on the cast at the same time, meaning the drama will likely play out on the Bravo series’ currently airing 10th season.

Their split came after Ariana reportedly learned Tom and Raquel had been having an affair for several months, with Scheana, Katie and Kristen all being photographed going over to Ariana’s house to console her. In addition, Kristen, who arrived with flowers and a bottle of wine, shared a selfie video of herself with Ariana on her Instagram Stories. “I stan Ariana,” she said. “This is in real time.”

Tom, meanwhile, played at a concert with his band Tom Sandoval & the Most Extras later that evening in Anaheim, Calif.

At the gig, many fans in the audience chanted “Cheater, cheater!” as Tom took the stage, as seen in a TikTok video. He did not respond, but after one guest shouted, “Ariana!” he said into the mic, “We love her.” As for him, another eyewitness told E! News that concertgoers also chanted “Douche” in his general direction.

Following news of their split, Ariana deleted her Instagram page, and, despite speculation, Tom’s rep told E! News exclusively that the reality star has not moved out of his and Ariana’s home.

Alberto E. Rodriguez for Getty Images

March 4, 2023

Tom Sandoval took to Instagram March 4 to address the backlash the employees of his restaurant Schwartz and Sandy’s had been receiving since the news broke. 

“Hey, I fully understand and deserve ur anger & disappointment towards me, but please leave [Tom] Schwartz, my friends and family out of this situation,” he wrote on Instagram. “This was a very personal thing.”

Going on to say “they did nothing wrong,” Tom added, “I’m so sorry that my partners, Greg, Brett, Schwartz and our employees have to suffer for my actions. I will be taking a step back & taking a hiatus out of respect for my employees & partners. I need some time to address everything else. Sorry for everything.” 

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 7, 2023

On March 7, Tom finally publicly apologized directly to Ariana amid the affair scandal. “Most of all, I want to apologize to Ariana,” the 39-year-old wrote in a March 7 statement shared to Instagram. “I made mistakes, I was selfish, and made reckless decisions that hurt somebody I love. No one deserves to feel that pain so traumatically and publicly.”

“I can only imagine how devastating this has been for Ariana and everyone around us,” the TomTom co-owner continued. “I feel really horrible about that. My biggest regret is that I dishonored Ariana. I never meant to disappoint so many people, including our loving families and friends.”

“I am so beyond sad that it ended the way it did,” he concluded. “I acted in a way that clashes with who and how I want to be. I will continue to reflect and work on myself. I have work to do. I always have, and I always will.”

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 8, 2023

Just a few hours after Tom made his statement, Raquel issued her own public apology to Ariana. “I want to apologize for my actions and my choices foremost to Ariana, and to my friends and the fans so invested in our relationships,” she wrote in a March 8 Instagram statement. “There is no excuse, I am not a victim and I must own my actions and I deeply regret hurting Ariana.”

“I am reflecting on my choices, speaking to a counselor and I am learning things about myself such as my patterns of codependency and addiction to being and feeling loved,” she continued. “I have sought emotional validation through intimate connections that are not healthy without regard for my own well-being, sometimes negatively affecting others and often prioritizing the intimate connection over my friendships. I am taking steps to understand my behavior and make healthier choices.”

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 8, 2023

Tom and Raquel’s boss Lisa Vanderpump sat down for a tell-all interview with Andy Cohen on March 8’s Watch What Happens Live, admitting she was “gobsmacked” and “flabbergasted” by the news. “I mean, literally, no words,” she said. “I didn’t see it coming. Nobody saw it coming.”

LVP added the “most shocking” part of the scandal is their affair had “been going a long time” without anyone knowing.

Sharing an update on Ariana, Lisa said “Devastated. A lot of tears. Ariana was always that ride-or-die girlfriend. It seems like Raquel was the ride girlfriend and she was the die girlfriend—not good.”

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 11, 2023

With many fans still wondering when exactly Tom Schwartz found out about his BFF’s affair with Raquel, the TomTom co-owner broke his silence to TMZ on March 11.

“Really, I’m just sad, you know, about the negative impact it’s had on our business,” he said. “But I think cooler heads will prevail and I’m just gonna keep on keeping on.”

As for how Sandoval is doing amid the backlash, he added, “He’s okay, I think. He has a sense of profound sadness, rightfully so. I think he feels like a piece of s–t and to some extent, maybe he is. He knows he f–ked up and the whole thing is just really sad.”

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 15, 2023

During a March 15 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Katie Maloney revealed she “wasn’t shocked” by the Tom-Raquel cheating scandal before adding, “But the details were shocking.”

She also gave an update on Ariana post-breakup. “All things considered, she’s in a good headspace,” Katie shared. “She’s taking care of herself. I saw her yesterday, and we’re excited. She’s excited.”

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 15, 2023

After nearly two weeks of staying silent on the controversy, Ariana finally spoke out about the breakup in a March 15 Instagram post.

“I want to express my most sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support I have received from friends, family, and people I’ve never even met in the last two weeks,” the 36-year-old wrote. “When I have felt like I couldn’t even stand, you all have given me the strength to continue and seen me through my darkest hours.”

“To say I have been devastated and broken is an understatement,” Ariana continued. “However, I know that I am not in this alone. So many of my closest friends are also grieving this loss right now and reeling from this betrayal on so many levels. I am so f–king lucky to have the best support system in the world and I hope I can repay every single person for the love you have shown me.”

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

March 20, 2023

On March 20, Bravo revealed the first footage of Scandoval in the season 10 midseason trailer. The cameras caught Tom and Ariana’s dramatic post-affair breakup talk in which she told him to “die” for cheating with Raquel.

While Tom admitted “I wish we both would have tried harder,” Ariana fired back with, “You don’t deserve one f–king tear of mine.”

Tommy Garcia/Bravo

March 23, 2023

On March 23, Andy Cohen filmed the explosive VPR season 10 reunion where the whole cast confronted Tom and Raquel about their affair. A source told E! News that “tensions were so high” during the reunion, “Andy ultimately had to separate two cast members before a fight could happen.”

Andy later revealed on his April 3 radio show, “It was a real reckoning. If you are looking to hear their story, you will. If you are looking for them to be confronted to their face about what they’ve done in what I would say an aggressive manner—a confrontational manner—you will get it.”

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

April 3, 2023

Bravo revealed the cast’s reunion looks on April 3, including Ariana’s red-hot revenge dress.

Todd Williamson/Bravo

April 5, 2023

During a bombshell April 5 Watch What Happens Live interview, Tom Schwartz revealed he found out Sandoval and Leviss first hooked up last August before things got more serious. “From my point of view, it became, like, an emotional affair,” he added, “which is still inappropriate.”

Schwartz claimed his BFF told him in January he’s “in love” with Leviss, despite still being with Madix at the time. “He’s addicted,” he said of Sandoval’s feelings for Leviss “It’s an infatuation of all infatuations.”

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

April 14, 2023

More than a month after news broke about their months-long affair, Raquel entered a facility to obtain mental health counseling, a source confirms to E! News on April 14.

“Raquel and her family decided months before the relationship was discovered, that she needed mental health treatment and ultimately decided she would enter a voluntary facility for mental health counseling,” her rep told E! News. “Raquel was scheduled to go in pre-reunion but decided she wanted to finish her filming commitment. Bravo and production were aware and in support of her journey towards better mental health.”

Instagram/@thestrongwai

April 14, 2023

Ariana proved she’s moving on from Tom during Coachella 2023 weekend from April 14 to 16. The reality star was spotted cuddling and making out with fitness coach Daniel Wai during the annual California festival.

Instagram

May 17, 2023

During VPR‘s explosive season 10 finale, Tom and Raquel said “I love you” for the first time publicly amid the fallout from the affair and even discussed their future together after the scandal.

“I can’t predict the future,” he shared. “Maybe things will work out with Raquel and I, maybe they won’t. But, when I kissed Raquel I felt hope, I felt like, ‘Wait a minute, you’re not washed up. Your best days aren’t behind you, maybe they’re just beginning.'”

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

May 17, 2023

In another finale bombshell, Tom admitted to cheating on Ariana prior to his affair with Raquel.

During a heart-to-heart with Scheana Shay, she asked, “So other than Miami girl, this is the first time you’ve ever cheated on Ariana?” to which he replied, “There was one other time.”

Her reaction? “You’re sick,” she said. “Just a random person?”

Though Tom originally stated yes, he awkwardly followed with, “Well, no,” before refusing to reveal any more details.

Instagram

May 18, 2023

The day after the finale episode, Ariana opened up about moving on with new man Daniel Wai during a TODAY show appearance.

“I’m enjoying myself and I would say I’m very happy right now,” Ariana shared May 18. “I met him at a wedding about 10 days after all of this. And in no way, shape or form did I go into that thinking anything. I have just been taking things very, very slow and really enjoying myself. And it’s just really lovely to interact with someone who is just so nice and kind and lovely and caring.”

Nicole Weingart/Bravo

May 24, 2023

On May 24, VPR producer Alex Baskin officially shot down rumors that Tom and Raquel were expecting a child together amid the affair.

“The pregnancy one was wild,” Baskin told Page Six. “She’s not pregnant by the way.”

Bravo

June 7, 2023

During the June 7 reunion episode, Raquel came face-to-face with Ariana for the first time since the scandal and delivered an emotional apology.

“I’m so ashamed and embarrassed that I’m even capable of keeping this secret from somebody who has been in my corner since the beginning,” she shared. “Ariana, I am so sorry for betraying you. I can’t even fathom the pain that I’ve caused you. And I have been completely selfish and, you’re right, selfish is not the right word because it doesn’t even begin to describe the state of mind I have been in. It was a mistake.”

Ariana did not accept. “Selfish does not f–king cover it, bitch,” she fired back. “Diabolical, demented, disgusting, subhuman—start getting a better vocabulary to describe your f–king actions because selfish does not f–king cover it.”

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