Reporter recalls covering Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan attack: ‘I don’t think I’ll ever forget it'

It was the infamous sports scandal that shocked the nation.

Seven weeks before the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Norway, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked and struck in the knee with a baton, rendering her unable to participate in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 

Scott Lewis, an investigative reporter at the time for FOX 2 in Detroit, recalled what it was like when the news broke that Tonya Harding was being investigated by the FBI. 

"I don't think I'll ever forget it," Lewis told FOX Television Stations. "It's been 30 years now, but it's probably the story I got the most attention for over my career." 

Authorities first thought that Kerrigan had been attacked by a crazed fan, but Lewis said he quickly received a tip from a reliable source that the FBI was zeroing in on Tonya Harding and her entourage as suspects. Lewis became the first person to publicly break the news, alleging her involvement.

"Initially, I just broke a piece of the story," he said. "The details didn't come out until Tonya Harding was back in Portland, and the FBI started rattling cages, and one of the guys was spilling his guts, and they got the whole story."


US figure skaters Tonya Harding (L) and Nancy Kerrigan avoid each other during a training session 17 February in Hamar, Norway, during the Winter Olympics. (Credit: VINCENT AMALVY/AFP via Getty Images)

Authorities soon determined that Harding was involved and that her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt, had hired an attacker, Shane Stant.

"It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to break this case," Lewis told FOX. "These guys left a better trail than Hansel and Gretel. I mean, they just left evidence all over the place … it was a very amateur attempt at an assault like this. I'm not saying the FBI didn't do a good job; I’m just saying that it didn't take much to break the case once they started questioning these people."

Lewis said that soon media outlets from all over the country and the world became invested in the story. 

"I think it kind of got out of control," he recalled, adding that he saw the coverage becoming similar to a "soap opera." 

RELATED: Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan: A look back at the infamous 1994 attack

The attacker, Stant served 18 months in prison for bruising Kerrigan’s right leg. Following his release, he became a born-again Christian and told FOX 2 in an exclusive interview that his time in prison saved his life.  

And despite her injury, Kerrigan famously went on to compete in the 1994 Games, where she won the silver medal. Harding placed eighth after having trouble with her laces.

Thirty years later, the ordeal lives on in pop culture history, leaving a mark on the history of figure skating. 

"I think what it did is it put women’s figure skating on a map. I had never paid any attention to it until this happened," Lewis added.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.