Michael Phelps Was No ‘Stick’ In The Mud In Viral Olympic Photo
I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. Phelps face was a viral phenomenon that inspired thousands of memes, spoofs, and news stories. At last month’s MTV Video Music Awards, the most decorated Olympic medalist in history shared that he was listening to Future’s “Stick Talk” while he geared up for a big race. After that admission, his face makes sense given the menacing track’s intensity.
During the Rio Olympics, Michael Phelps was in the zone before the men’s 200-meter butterfly. He was seated with his Olympic hoodie pulled over his head and a grimacing look on his face. Just in front of him, rival South African swimmer Chad le Clos was warming up. The two had faced off before, and Phelps’ extreme concentration was interpreted as a death stare at his opponent.
He most certainly looked angry. And it took no time for the web to catch on. NBC Sports added the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” theme to the video of Phelps Face. As the camera zoomed in, the clip evoked peak Larry David.
Elsewhere, Phelps Face became the new Crying Jordan. If you don’t recall that epic meme, it’s a photo of a blustery, red-eyed Michael Jordan. It’s literally used to express every emotion on the Internet. The original photo resulted from Jordan’s 2014 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was the holy grail of sports memes until now.
Though we’d all hoped Phelps Face was the result of some sinister plot by Phelps to take down his competitors, it wasn’t. Instead, it was a hip-hop fueled moment of sheer concentration; a historic Olympian getting in the zone.
On the surface, Phelps Face made the Olympic hero look like a stick-in-the-mud. Turns out it was just a funny face that’ll stick with him (and us) until the next Olympics.