Skip to main content

What Michael Phelps Thought Immediately After He Made That Face At The Olympics

michael phelps rio olympics

A lot of glorious moments came from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Among them were moments of triumph and excitement, but also just plenty of amusing faces. One of the most memorable moments from the Olympics occurred when Michael Phelps was preparing for his 200m butterfly event. Fellow competitor Chad le Clos of South Africa walked by, cool as a cucumber, and for a short time, Michael Phelps looked totally insane. During a recent appearance on The Tonight Show, Michael Phelps goofily admitted that he knew his glare would be everywhere in the days following the big event. Here's what he had to say:

The worst is, I was sitting in the ready room and I remember I always know there are two cameras in the upper right-hand corner right before I walk out, and I'm sitting there spitting water like what is going on? And as I'm making a face, I was like, 'yep, that's on camera.' Someone will pick that one up tomorrow.

People with really expressive faces often can't help themselves. Michael Phelps seems to be one of those people, as he notes in his story that he was self-aware enough to realize the cameras were on him, but that he couldn't do anything about the face he was making. That, or he just didn't mind that the cameras saw him making an intense face. During this Olympics, he was generally pretty good-humored, and people seemed to love the intensity Michael Phelps displayed before each race---but especially the butterfly.

Still, while Phelps might be owning up to knowing about the cameras, he has formerly said he was not intentionally mean-mugging Chad le Clos. Instead, he has said he was simply in the zone before his Olympics event:

I just had music going on in my head. I had thoughts going on in my head, spitting water a little bit all over the place, so I was in my own zone. I was not intentionally mean mugging him or giving him a dirty look.

It paid off. Phelps won a gold medal in the event with a time of 1:53.36. If you'd like to hear him talk more about what seems to be his final Olympics, you can watch the full segment from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, below.

In addition, you catch new episodes of The Tonight Show on weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET, only on NBC. For an additional look at what TV has coming up, check out our fall TV premiere schedule.

Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.