tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC May 30, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
>> it's amazing down there. >> next week, on assignment. that's all for now, i'm lester holt. thank you for joining us. tonight nbc news goes on assignment. >> i felt just like a gigantic piece of -- >> bleep it. [ laughter ] matt lauer one-on-one with the most decorated olympic champ. >> i've never heard you saying the things you're saying before. >> michael phelps speaks out about the demons that plagued him. >> it was a cry for help? >> i believe so, yeah. >> and how rehab saved him. >> i'm not hiding behind anything anymore. >> harry smith ventures thousands of miles to an enchanted land where tv news
cameras have never been. >> we like to think of it as paradise lost and found. >> places teeming with life. it's on land, in the sea. >> shark coming in. >> could this magical spot hold the secret to help saving the planet? >> what's happening is really an sos signal. we have to do something. but first, richard engel with an nbc news investigation. the terrorist who grew up next door. >> can i talk to you for a minute? >> when did you learn that he'd actually gone to syria to join isis? >> right now. >> you didn't know until right now? >> americans who have joined isis. tonight, we reveal their identities. >> there are 15 names here. >> an aspiring doctor, a valedictorian, her husband, their baby, how do these young americans become terrorists? >> beheadings, the brutality, do you think the boy you grew up with was capable of doing that kind of thing? >> yes, in an instant.
>> the exclusive story right now on assignment. >> good evening, and welcome to on assignment. i'm lester holt. we begin with an nbc news investigation of the enemy within. americans who left the country to join isis. we'll reveal who they are. richard engel reports. >> reporter: two months ago, in this small border town in turkey, we met a man who said he was an isis defector. he hand us a thumb drive containing the details of thousands of isis fighters. it was an unprecedented treasure trove of information, since verified by u.s. government agencies. of all the thousands of names, we focused on 15 because they come from right here in the united states. these american isis fighters are, for the most part, the sons of immigrant parents, who came to this country to find the american dream, and they did.
their sons grew up in this country, went to school here, had friends and ambitions, but they left it all behind to join a terrorist group. why? are there more? and what did law enforcement miss? we asked retired fbi agent gamal abdel havas to join our investigation. gamal spent much of his 20-year career tracking radical islamists. >> it's not the most sophisticated crime lab you've ever seen in the world, but these are the documents. >> the documents contain some clues about these young men. >> here's omar katan. >> he was a student at the university of north texas. then he signed up to be a suicide attacker. han ad went to high school in minneapolis. alberto, a convert to islam from
gilroy, california, is seen here inside syria. >> the vast majority say, i want to be a fighter, this one wants to be a suicide bomber. doesn't want to come back. >> two americans stood out, because they appeared to arrive in syria on the same day. gamal suggested we start with rasal's family. >> my theory is always, there's no way your kid will change from a normal person to a jihadi, suicide bomber and no one notice any difference. >> on a small suburban street outside of columbus, we found rasal's parents' home. >> can i talk to you for a minute? you don't want to talk to me? well, he clearly didn't want to speak. get lost was what he said. said he was going to call the
police. off-camera, he told us, he brought his children to america from bangladesh 16 years ago, and has at times worked two jobs to support the family. he says he hasn't heard from rasal in two years and disavows what he's done. >> meanwhile, our team tracked down this video of rasal. >> really, you looked at him and he's just such an outgoing kid. >> phil chu was one of rasal's best friends in high school. >> he was an exceptional student. >> he wanted to go to harvard? >> yes, he wanted to be a doctor. he wanted to help people. >> in this video, about an aquarium project, rasal comes across as a typical teen, smart, even a little geeky. >> we tried things like adding nutrients, testing levels ofph, nitrate, et cetera. but in his junior year, he started to slip. >> stopped showing up to class.
>> then he disappeared. >> he was gone. >> were you worried? >> everyone was worried. >> then about a year later, in november 2014, phil suddenly got a text message from rasal over skype. >> he was acting mysterious? >> completely out of character. >> at one stage he writes and says, the fbi might come knocking on your door? >> yeah, at that point, i was like, what the hell did you do? >> what rasal had done was unthinkable. he joined a terrorist organization and was already in syria. but he didn't tell phil that. he did tell him who had guided him on his path. >> i hate to make assumptions, but that's what he specifically stated, he talked to his sister, that's how he got into islam. >> rasal had a sister, and she clearly played a key role. here she is at 16, in an ohio public television video. >> it's like harvest time, so i
haven't had this experience before. >> zachia was also a hard-working high achievement student, graduating as a val dict k dick torrian. but he became distant and got married. her husband was the missing link, he traveled to syria with her little brother, rasal. a picture was starting to emerge. >> what seems to be most mysterious is this connection. how did zachia link up with geoffrey? >> we headed to california where geoffrey grew up in a million dollar home in affluent palo alto. our first stop, an office building where geoffrey's father runs a medical marketing company. hello, i'm looking for mr. khan. are you mr. khan?
i'm richard engel from nbc news. we've tried to call you a few times. can i talk to you for a minute? >> many of the family members we approached for this story didn't want to appear on camera for fear of a backlash. off-camera, geoffrey's father, who came here from pakistan at a young age, told us what he told the fbi, he hasn't spoken to his son in nearly two years. we found in youtube video of geoffrey goofing around with his cousin ahmed, who agreed to meet with us in the park where he and geoffrey used to hang out. >> no one else really was that close to me as geoffrey was. >> ahmed said geoffrey was into rap music, marijuana and the internet. until he started watching propaganda videos. he was getting angry. he said we're surrounded by a bunch of sinful people and we should move to a muslim country. >> he was getting more angry? >> more hateful towards
americans. >> it was around that time that geoffrey met and quickly married zachia. >> how did they meet? >> online, on a matrimonial website. >> was she religious at the time? >> she was. she wore the hijab and covered her face. >> the newlyweds settled in ohio, and she enrolled at ohio state university. of all places, they chose to move into this building where an al qaeda member was arrested in 2007. he's serving a long prison sentence for plotting attacks, but his wife lived right next door to zachia and geoffrey. we went to a nearby mosque where paul used to pray to see if anyone there new geoffrey, zachia, or rasal? >> i had met geoffrey, the other two i'm not familiar with. >> bassil is the mosque's board president. >> there have been a number of people who have passed through these doors who have ended up
being associated with extremist groups? >> there have been a few. >> how do you explain that? >> they were not actually involved in the mosque too much. if someone wants to come and worship, they're welcome to. what they do outside of their life is their own business. violence, terrorism, these are in direct contradiction to the teachings of islam. the fact they were on the street and attending the mosque concerns me. >> did you miss something? >> i don't know. >> but clearly something was happening, a family was becoming a cell. 17-year-old rasal was spending more and more time with his sister zachia and her new husband geoffrey. >> geoffrey had kind of brainwashed him into joining as well. >> so you think geoffrey was the one who made the younger brother extreme? >> definitely, yeah. >> in 2012 and '13, authorities may have had their best chance to stop this american isis cell. the fbi got a tip warning that
geoffrey might be mixed up with jihadist extremists. what's more, geoffrey and his wife traveled to kenya, where they claim to have lost their passports. according to his skype text with phil, rasal was interviewed by the fbi and zachia and geoffrey were on the watch list for terrorism. >> his mom had called one day and i was like, how's geoffrey doing, i haven't heard from him. she goes, geoffrey joined isis and he went overseas with his wife and then he also took her brother. so they all went to go fight, all three of them. >> that was news to phil chu in columbus. >> when did you learn that he'd actually gone to syria to join isis? >> i didn't know about the isis part until today. right now. >> you didn't know until right now? >> i didn't know until right now. he actually is? >> yes.
[ deep exhale ] what a damn shame. >> we later learned rasal, who took the fighter name abu abdela the american, was killed. he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. that would be syria in the age of isis. but zachia and geoffrey are said to be alive and well, working at this well equipped hospital in raqqah, the capital of the so-called islamic state. about ten months ago, they had this baby girl and named her miriam. >> you know what isis does? >> yeah. >> the beheadings, the brutality. >> yeah, very extreme. >> ahmed heard that geoffrey was present at a mass beheading of christians. do you think the boy you grew up with, who became this man is capable, was capable of doing that kind of thing? >> yes. because if you talked about
people that are killing muslims, he would do it in an instant. >> you don't think somebody, you or others, had a duty to pick up the phone and say, this guy is talking about killing people, killing americans, that they deserve to die? >> yes. >> no alarms went off? >> at the time, no. >> if not you, why didn't anyone else in the family pick up the phone? >> i personally believe they were scared or they just didn't care too much about him. >> in a written statement, the family said geoffrey's actions and decisions have been heartbreaking and we do not support this is personal choices. off-camera, geoffrey's mother told us she's in contact with him over encrypted text messages. >> as serious as the threat is here in the united states, it pales in comparison to the threat faced by even some of our closest western allies. >> john carlin is the assistant attorney general for national security. >> we found a young man, geoffrey, who, one of his
acquaintances had reported on him to the fbi. he attended a mosque where a former al qaeda member, who's now in jail attended. he was known to his family members to becoming increasingly radical and dangerous and yet he managed to travel abroad multiple times. >> i'm not going to talk about particular cases here. but i think at the beginning of the threat, we need to get better at disrupting those who would go travel overseas as foreign terrorist fighters. we need to work with communities to do everything we can to disrupt those who would go join this terrible group overseas, and that might try to return here to commit attacks or to commit atrocities there. >> the fbi says it's seeing a drop in young men trying to go overseas to join isis. but gamal, the former fbi agent, says the threat will remain unless we take a smarter approach to counter the isis
message. >> well, i think this is the tip of the iceberg. >> that means the problem in america is much bigger? >> if it's not now, it will be bigger, if we don't do something about it fast. >> i can tell you right now, people are not going to like to hear that. >> well, it's my expert opinion, it's the fact that i believe in. coming up -- >> i feel like a high school kid again. >> swimmer michael phelps goes for olympics number five. tonight the new father opens up about his own father. >> the feeling of being abandoned by my father. i was a kid that always wanted a family. >> a powerful conversation with matt lauer. >> the world will see me in a different way. [ brakes screech ] when your pain reliever stops working, your whole day stops. excuse me, try this. but just one aleve can last 12 hours.
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>> not like taxis. taxis are a car. taxes. [ screaming ] >> taxes is what you pay to live in that house forever. >> money matters. that's later at the kids table. also ahead, olympic champ michael phelps makes a flash with a surprise revelation. >> they had no idea. >> no one did. i almost got away with it. and harry smith takes the plunge into a water adventure of his own. >> shark coming in. you wonder what it's like to do something like this. tg amazing. >> the most magnificent paradise you've never seen. and then, in one blinding blink of an eye,
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from the nearest continent, deep in the vast pacific ocean is a tiny sliver of land calmed palmyra. it's so unique it's become a laboratory for scientists. harry smith found their mission is nothing less than learning how to save the planet. >> we're in a place you probably never heard of. this is the palmyra atol where fish and birds and coral abound like few other places on the planet. living proof that left to its own devices, nature can heal itself. we like to think of it as paradise lost and found. there's about a thousand miles of water between hawaii and palmyra. we loaded a plane with gear and with our guides from the nature conservancy, we headed south for a rare and exclusive look. >> going to paradise. >> the u.s. military used this as a base in world war ii, and
conveniently left a runway. the nature conservancy has a research station on palmyra and most of the time the only people here, a skeleton crew of four. >> and works to protect coral reefs. >> dr. stephanie rear is a senior scientist with the nature conservancy. >> this is a place that is teeming with life. it's on land, in the sea, in the air. there are thousands of birds nesting here. baby sharks swimming at our doorstep. tripping over crabs. >> palmyra is a petri dish of possibility. it shows what can happen when you remove the things that harm an environment. especially impressive because the entire atoll was flattened in world war ii to make room for 2,000 u.s. troops. yet here, birds like the tern thrive, free to mate and raise
their young, because rats and non-native species were eradicated, a formidable undertaking. >> how important is this habitat to the terns? >> the terns need habitat that is free of predators, and there are no predators on palmyra so they can breed to their heart's con tenlt. >> they look like they're doing a pretty good job. >> they're doing a great job. >> do you ever get tired of standing here and watching this unfold? >> never. it's a fantastic spectacle. >> palmyra is a welcome place for all kinds of birds -- red-footed, masked, and brown bobbies, frigates, truly a sanctuaries. along the old world war ii landing strip, birds like to hang out on either side, including the bristle-thighed
kuru, of which there are only 7,000 in the whole world. i talk to them, sometimes they talk back. [ laughter ] what you get from a few days on palmyra is a clear understanding of the balance of nature, the interdependence, the sim bee yosis. what the birds leave on the leaves gets washed into the sea, which help the plankton thrive. and where there's plenty of plankton, there are rays like this, that came to visit us every night. that is u.s. territory and a cooperative effort of the department of the interior, the u.s. fish and wildlife service and the nature conservancy. palmyra is just one of a number of protected areas known as monuments in the pacific, totally half a billion acres of which susan white is the superintendent. >> huge, big swaths of the pacific that are protected. what does that mean?
>> it's protected so that they stay wild. we'll never have condominiums here. the critters have homes to live in without having to adapt too much to having people around them all the time. >> can we afford to have these monuments out in the middle of the pacific ocean where nothing and everything happens? >> yeah, right. well, the simple answer is, i don't think we can afford not to. >> what does it mean for you to be here and to see how well this place is doing? >> it feeds my soul. it is a part of who i am, and i'm very -- you're gonna make me cry. yeah. very lucky. the best thing that we can have in life is to do something that we believe in, that we're passionate about. yeah. bad tears. >> good tears. palmyra is a string of tiny
islands surrounded by 16,000 acres of lagoons and coral reefs. reefs in australia have been decimated by climate change. concerned the same might be true here, we headed to sea with a zoolologist and coral researcher with the nature conservancy. >> you want to show me around a little bit. >> yeah, let's take a look at what's here. >> big corals here. >> over 170 different species of coral. >> 170? >> yes, indeed. >> most of the coral was in great shape, but there were spots of concern. >> this is horribly bleached. it's not healthy. >> that's what's wrong at the grate barrier reef? >> yes. >> reefs bleach when water temperature gets warmer than normal. killing the coral. if global temperatures continue
to warm, it will make it difficult for reefs to rebound. as the reefs go, so go the oceans -- oceans that help us breathe. because of its isolation and protection, palmyra's reevfs ar still in good shape. >> this is so beautiful. it's almost beyond your imagination. >> for where there's good healthy coral, there's lots of fish, and fishing, by the way, is illegal within a 50-mile radius of palmyra. >> this is what's so great about palmyra, we have a great parrot fish swimming by, a huge snapper and a reef shark, all cruising through at the same time. >> i could get used to it. >> reef shark coming in. another one off the left. >> the sharks seem to want to keep an eye on us. >> we kind of stick out down here. we don't quite belong. we mean you no harm, sir.
>> the sharks pose no threat to us. reef sharks, no bigger than five feet or so. but let's be honest, they are so cool to see so close. >> this is your office. >> coming to work every day is not so bad when your office looks like this. >> palmyra is one of the last best places on earth, a reminder of how things could be. how they ought to be. >> one of the unique things about palmyra, it's got a population of four. right? so there are very few places in the world that you can access to study coral reefs. where you can really minimize human impacts. so we can ask questions, we can better understand what's happening on a reef, understand how a reef functions. because we can eliminate all the confusion of what people create, basically, when they're living near a coral reef. we can see the coral reef more clearly here. >> it's like taking the static out of a radio signal.
>> that is absolutely -- that is a perfect analogy. >> and where there's no static, dr. weir hears a call for help. >> i think of what's happening with coral reefs as an sos signal for the planet. what's happening right now, this global coral bleaching event is dramatic. to me, that's a coral screaming that we have to do something. right? there's very few systems that can give us this kind of visible, dramatic signal to point out how things are changing. >> as isolated as palmyra is, the evidence of human carelessness is everywhere. trash on the beach that floats in from all over the pacific. >> here we are in the most perfect place left on the planet and there's this. >> right. >> there's crap like this all over this beach. >> how can this be? well, we're doing a really good job of putting a lot of crap in the ocean and we have to stop.
this is about all of us changing your behaviors and all of us getting involved. >> do you think you can do that? do you think you can actually get people to sort of change their behavior enough to bring the planet back to some semblance of nature? >> so my answer to that is, if i didn't, what the hell am i doing? right? i would be crazy. i would be crazy to be doing this if i did not think it was possible for us to do that? >> are you crazy? >> i don't know. i don't think so. >> after three days here, we'd seen so much. but there was one more boat ride ahead. to one of palmyra's most delicate spots. in a good, clean salad, every ingredient is the main ingredient. whether it's big... or small.
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the director of cincinnati zoo held a news conference is said the entire zoo is feeling the loss of the gorilla who was shot and killed over the weekend. they stand by their decision to end the gorilla's life and would make the same decision again. cincinnati police have been saying they have no intent to file charges against the family of the 3-year-old boy who fell into the enclosure leading to the shooting. back to our program. and there's one more thing, with our time on palmyra almost up, we were afraid our last adventure would get washed out. then the sun came out. saving one of our most anticipated explorations. >> these are clothes i bought new in new york, then froze in a plastic bag, brought here because the place we're going is so sensitive, so restricted, they want to make sure we don't bring anything with us that
could be invasive. clad in our once frozen clothes, we head to a place called the milky way. since there are no more rats in palmyra, tiny fiddler crabs thrive here. >> why are these little fiddler crabs important in the big, big picture of things? >> these fiddler crabs are the energy source for the shore birds that fly down here all the way from alaska. and they provide the food, the snickers bars of the wilderness for those shore birds. >> it started to pour again. did we mention it rains 200 inches a year here? but no way were we going to miss the coconut crabs. >> take a look at this. in this whole eco-system here, why is this one place important? >> throughout the entire island, we have the highest density of coconut crabs found anywhere at
palmyra. they can be blue, they can be red. they look like a spider on steroids. and they also are very docile and gentle. they're very slow-moving. >> perhaps because some of downright massive. >> how big is this thing? >> about the size of a garbage can. >> this is one of the few places in the world where coconut crabs are not harvested. they're fully protected here at palmyra, which means they're able to live out their full life span. and we know that coconut crabs can live to be at least 70 years old. >> and no doubt, they live a full colorful life. >> is this paradise? >> you know, i'm -- hmm, is this paradise? paradise -- i'm not sure if paradise exists anymore. to be completely honest, there's really no place in the world that is completely untouched and to me, paradise is a place that is completely untouched. you know, there's garbage on the
beach. we have impacts of climate change and sea level rise happening here, but this is pretty close. it's obviously beautiful, it's teeming with life. it's a place of inspiration. it's as close as you can find to paradise, i think, these days. coming up, candid, courageous. >> i sent myself down a downward spiral. i had to get something under control. >> olympic champion michael phelps on his secret struggle up. >> i've never, ever heard you say the things you're saying right now. on the move all day long... and sometimes, i just don't eat the way i should. so i drink boost® to get the nutrition that i'm missing. boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a great taste. i don't plan on slowing down any time soon. stay strong. stay active with boost®.
more than an athlete, michael phelps is a phenomena. now he's a father. michael phelps and his fiancee just welcomed a son named boomer. it's another life-changing event for the champ who's been through so many. tonight he opens up about a hard-fought victory. one not in the pool, but in rehab. matt lauer joined him in arizona. >> i went in with -- with no self-confidence, no self-love. >> i'm gonna stop you there, because it's going to be extraordinary for people at home thinking about the most decorated olympic athlete they've ever seen, saying i went in with no self-confidence. >> at that point in my life, i felt just like a gigantic piece of -- >> you can say it. i'll bleep it. >> that's what i felt like. i think the biggest thing was, i thought of myself as just a swimmer and nobody else. >> he's won more olympic
medals -- 22 -- than anyone else in history. but for all of his conquests, michael phelps was privately dealing with inner demons. >> i don't know if it was like afraid of just letting go and showing who i am, or what it was. and i finally was just like, you know what, screw this, i'm not hiding behind anything anymore. i am who i am and if you don't like it, it's not my issue and it's not my problem. >> most of the world first heard the name michael phelps at the 2004 athens games. >> michael phelps is far and away the biggest name of these games. >> it's also the year i first interviewed him in his illustrious career. >> good morning. >> those interviews continued in beijing where he won eight gold medals. >> we're delighted to have michael phelps with us. >> to the 2012 london games. >> supposed to be his olympic swan song as he told me back then. >> i'm done, i'm retired, no more. >> we're learning that at the
time phelps could barely stand swimming and his relationship with his coach, bob bowman, someone he had trained with since he was 11, was often toxics. >> prior to london, was there a time you thought he wouldn't go? >> yes. >> why? >> i hoped he would? >> why? >> because i thought it was going to end really badly. >> their relationship had become a lot like a dysfunctional married couple. the coach no longer wanted to deal with phelps defiant behavior, like missing practices, a lot of them. just before london. a fact they kept hidden from the public. >> let's go back to the days before london. i was rather surprised to pick up a copy of "sports illustrated" magazine, and there you are on the cover, it told a story in the magazine about how in the months leading up to london, you and bob were not getting along all that well and one time in particular, you had a brutal fight. >> there were a couple of them. >> he says, we go at it.
world war 3, i smashed my watch against the wall. i peel out, flip him the bird, he flips me the bird. he doesn't come back for ten day says. >> sounds about right. >> this is leading up to london. >> yeah. >> you're in the prime of your training for the olympic games and you don't show up for ten days. what's going on? >> i didn't care. i actually didn't care. >> he said it came back on day 11 because matt lauer was there to interview him for the "today" show. >> i had something to do. >> they had no idea that was what our preparation was like for london. >> no one did. that's why i say i almost got away with it. >> i remember talking to you about your training a lolt during that interview. >> i was pretty good at that. >> pretty good he now admits at not telling the complete truth. what's surprising, he went on to win six medals in london. four gold, two silver. it turns out, behind all the glory, the amazing accomplishments, was a person
who didn't like himself. >> 100% i was lost. pushing a lot of people out of my life. people that i wanted and needed in my life. and was kind of running and escaping from whatever it was i was running from. >> everything seemed to come to a head on september 29th of 2014. phelps had been gambling and drinking that day at a casino in his hometown of baltimore. driving home in a white land rover, he illegally changed lanes inside the ft. mchenry tunnel. police also clocked him going 84 in a 45-mile-per-hour zone. >> i sent myself down a downward spiral. i think it was more of a sign than anything else, that i had to get something under control, whatever it was. i look back at that night and everything happened for a reason. i drove that way, if i ever drive home, i never go that route. >> it was a cry for help?
>> i believe so, yeah. i really do. >> phelps was arrested for dui. it was his second time for the same offense. soon after he was released from jail, phelps retreated to his bedroom, for four days. >> i was the lowest place i've ever been. and honestly, i sort of at one point, i felt like i didn't want to see another day. felt like, it should be over. >> after some tough love from friends and family, phelps snapped out of those dark thoughts and checked himself into the meadows, a rehab clinic in arizona. >> the first couple nights were just brutal. i mean, i probably cried myself to sleep the first four or five days. >> in listening to and reading some of the things people closest to you have said about that incident, nobody uses the words alcoholic or drinking problem. so are you an alcoholic? >> i don't know. i would say binge more than anything else. >> so a drinking problem?
>> no, because like -- i mean, you can put a beer in front of me or an alcoholic drink in front of me and i won't feel the urge to drink it. >> so you checked yourself into the meadows for 45 days. you said you don't know if you're an alcoholic, maybe have a binge problem. so did you check yourself into treatment because you had a drinking problem or a public relations problem? >> i checked myself in because i think i was at a point in my life where something needed to change and i needed to figure things out. >> it was in rehab therapy that phelps said he finally dealt with a major issue in his life -- his dad. his parents divorced when he was 9. he was raised by his mom debby, a familiar face poolside. as for his dad, retired maryland state trooper, phelps said he didn't see much of him over the last 20 years. >> one of the biggest things i was able to overcome was the feeling of being abandoned by my father. i was a kid that always wanted a
family. whether our parents are together or not, i still wanted a mom and a dad. i never had that for so long. >> phelps said there was a breakthrough in the relationship when his dad accepted an invitation to visit him in rehab. >> it showed that he wanted to still be in my life, so that feeling i had of being avoided and abandoned maybe was a misunderstanding. i think we learned more about each other in that visit than in the previous 20 years. >> you know what's extraordinary, i've ask you about your dad -- >> i've damaodged it every time. >> dodged it every time. i've never, ever heard you say the things you're saying about it now. >> it's because i'm comfortable about it. i'm a lot more laid back and open. >> after phelps received a suspended one-year jail sentence, he says he hasn't had a drink since october 2014.
phelps is now urn turning his l around and surprised many by coming out of retirement for one more olympics, his fifth. >> what was the phone call like when you called your mom and said, i think i'm going to rio. >> tears. instant tears. she was so happy. >> and there's been a recent major change in his personal life. he and his fiancee had a baby boy. nicole johnson, a former miss california gave birth to six pound-12-ounce, boomer robert phelps, the middle name in honor of michael's coach bob. phelps told me before the birth, he was nervous about being a new father. >> i felt like, i don't know how to act. it's like, i'm excited but i don't know what to do. and i've had friends who've had kids over the last couple years and i think the one thing that every single one says, it's the best thing that will ever happen in your life. >> now preparing for that other major thing in his life, the rio olympic games, phelps is
currently training at arizona state. he says he's in the best shape in nearly a decade. and this time around, he says he actually wants to be in the pool. and who is by his side? >> let's go! >> his long-time coach. we all go back a pretty long way. >> yeah. >> i'm shocked. >> yeah. >> he's like a completely different person. >> absolutely. physically, mentally, emotionally. in all the areas. >> so how does that impact your relationship? >> makes my life awesome, because we comes to practice every day. it's all about the swimming now. >> phelps says he's having fun both in and out of the pool. even participated in arizona state's famous curtain of distraction, stripping down to distract an opposing player's free-throw. >> so he's getting his college experience. >> that's right. >> phelps will be 31 in rio and he says, no matter what, this is definitely, absolutely his last olympics. >> you have goals, you're famous
for those. you're also famous for never sharing them. >> don't waste a question. >> i'm not going to waste it. would it be nice for you to become the oldest swimmer to win a gold medal? >> obviously it would be nice. >> would it be nice to be the first swimmer to win gold medals 12 years apart? >> be pretty cool. >> so out of rio, what's realistic? >> there's a number in my head. i've got a number. >> so if you don't hit the number, will you be able to look at me and say, i went out the way i wanted to go out? >> yeah, because i'm giving an honest effort. i'm having fun again. and this is something that i haven't had in a really long time. so it's just like, i'm just going, you know, i'm going out and enjoying myself every day i get back in the water. i feel like a high school kid again. coming up -- >> i would buy an airplane. >> a big stuffed animal. >> what would you do with this past week's eye-popping powerball jackpot? >> buy a big screen tv. >> big dreams from the little
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>>. >> to be rich, i think it means like, when you have a lot of money. like a lot, like a thousand dollars. >> 187. >> 200, and that's how much i have. >> $10. >> 100 zillion. >> the $429 million powerball, the winner is in new jersey. >> if i had $430 million, i would buy a big screen tv. >> a speedboat. >> a cuddly bear. >> i would like macaroni and cheese. >> i thought i would like a sandwich. >> a gold mansion. >> 1,000 dolphins. >> those are my favorite animals. >> i would buy an airplane. >> a big stuffed animal. >> a giant bear. >> no, i'm not gonna buy that. >> to make the tax system fair. >> taxes. >> taxes. >> taxes. >> not like taxis. taxis are a kind of car.
taxes. [ screaming ] >> i really have no idea. >> taxes is what you pay to live in that house forever. >> pay to the government so that the government can do stuff for you, like from the schools and stuff, yeah. >> it's okay if i'm poor. it's okay if i'm rich. and i'm okay with everything, because all i want to do is just be happy with what i have. >> any way you add it up, that was priceless. that's on assignment for tonight. see you here next sunday and here's what we're working on for next week. >> we're in south korea, but we didn't come to seoul to look at the latest electronic gadgetry. no, we're here to see puppies. if you have a dog in your home you love more than some family members, you can get it cloned here. >> six of them?
>> yes. >> all clones? >> yes. >> looks like a happy dog. a happy clone. >> that's all for now, i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. tonight nbc news goes on assignment. >> i think people have an idea that this is some frankenstein factory. >> harry smith is inside the only place in the world where they'll do this -- >> looks like a happy dog. >> -- clone your pet. >> six of them? all clones? >> yes, they're all clones. >> genetic carbon copies of cute puppies and rough and ready crime fighters. >> those are some serious jaws. >> what might they clone next? >> it would be an amazing feat, an impossible feat. >> keith morrison reports on the challenge of a lifetime.