August 1st, 2012
01:32 PM ET

If Michael Phelps were a country...

[Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET Saturday]

He would be No. 51 in the all-time medal count, tied with Egypt and Portugal with 22 total medals.

 He'd have more Twitter followers (1,000,497) than Fiji has in total population (890,057).

He'd be making more money than certain entire countries. He is estimated to make $100 million over the course of his lifetime. This is more than twice the estimated GDP of the Tuvalu Islands ($37,470,000).

 He'd be liked on Facebook (5.8 million times) more times than the total number of Internet users in Greece (4,971,000).

Phelps, born in 1985, would be older than several countries including Namibia, Slovakia, Serbia, Kosovo, and South Sudan.

– Phelps, standing 6-foot-4, would be taller than the average Dutch man (6 feet), considered to be the world’s tallest people.

We say this, of course to highlight the legacy of Phelps, who won his 22nd medal on Saturday, extending his record of most Olympic medals won all-time.

Phelps, who began swimming at age 7 to emulate his sisters, set individual world records 29 times, and he still holds records in six events.

He has wrapped up a career as the most decorated Olympian ever, perhaps the greatest ever. Some commentators will argue the cases of track and field's Carl Lewis, who missed an Olympics because of a U.S. boycott, or distance runner Paavo Nurmi, who won 12 medals. Some might argue for Bjorn Daehlie, the Norwegian cross-country skier. And there's gymnast Larisa Latynina, whose 18 medals are now second all time.

Vote in the poll below if you think Michael Phelps should be considered the greatest Olympian ever. We plan to keep adding to this list so let us know in the comments if you have any similar "if Michael Phelps were a country" comparisons and we'll check them out.

soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. JOH

    Congrats to Phelps. But of course, since American soccer team sucks, this and NBA is the only thing they can brag about. And it's not like the athletes from the NBA are all American.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Yo

    He has gotten lazy and a true Olympian cannot be lazy on the Olympic Stage. So he is no longer the greatest–although he was in Beijing.

    By the way, what's the big problem with Phelps being gay, if he is, anyway?

    August 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Keith

    If he is gay, id enjoy spending time with him...with or without the suit.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bobby Brier

    Of course he's the best ever Olympian. Gold medals across four Olympics. Most gold medals in one Olympic. Most medals ever. Sheesh, you can measure the performance. He's done what no one else has done. Medals are the standard of measurement. Of course, socialists who think everyone should be equal find fault and play "yeah, but..." all day long.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. disgustedvet

    He didn't win all those medals on his own,we allowed him to earn them.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick

    Let all light a bong in honor of Mike!

    August 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rick

    Lets all light a bong in honor of Mike!

    August 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    He smokes more trees than the average Jamaican.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I don't care if he puts his face in the bong every day of the year and twice on Sunday. Phelps is awesome.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bustedinajiffy

      Hahahahahahahahahahaha that's so funny man! People in the cubicle probabaly think some one is over here tickling me. Hahahaha too funny.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anna

    I watched the relay where he won gold, but no mention of the other members of the team that got him that lead!

    He didnt do it on his own!

    August 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      You must be from the generation of kids that got a trophy for just showing up.

      Don't be a shine-blocker. When a dude crosses a historic winning milestone be prepared to grab a seat in the back row. You might be on the team but it's no longer about you, ya know. If they performed the same historic feat then they would be in the spotlight.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      You were watching different coverage than I was. The announcers talked endlessly about the middle two legs and how they set him up with more than the cushion needed to bring it home.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hannah

      Not true, at the end when he and his teammates were interviewed all he did was talk about how fantastic his teammates were for getting him the lead and how grateful he was to them.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobert

      You are a moron. He mentioned them numerous times. What did you watch?

      August 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ItsAMirage

      Actually, the story mention all of them. It also mention how he thank them. Are you reading correctly?

      August 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JiminNM

    If Michael Phelps were a country, the U.S. Federal Government, the United Nations and NATO would declare war to destroy him because he would be a sovereign nation, something to be eliminated.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeb

    Michael Phelps is a national treasure that we should all be proud of.

    The fact that he's an imperfect human being like the rest of us should does nothing to diminish his accomplishments.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Macmb

    He would be a country were pot is legal.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. carly

    Definitely the greatest! 4 Olympics ! We may never live to see anyone win THAT many medals again in our life time. The wear and tear on his body after all these years of such intense training – and he's STILL the man to beat... Tremendous athlete.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. wind

    What drug did he eat. I also want to try

    August 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Malakia

    WHO CARES?! All this adulation because the geek can swim fast in a pool???!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
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