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. saywhat

    Michael Phelps, US athlete -as great as they come. More success to him.
    Getting us laurels.

    August 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |


      August 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommy

      A large lower jaw, tall, prominent ears, large hands and feet, hallmark of acromegaly....or growth hormone doping! Doping wouldnt be detected if hormones were injected years ago; the bony changes are permanent. Allison Shmitt also falls in the same category.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • moving1

      I found it funny that now that he has CHOKED, and the only medal was a the team event, and now silver is the new gold. Not taking anything aways from his talent, but he is not the best and you know it. He failed from smoking weed to be over rated. he has the numbers, and that is good for him.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommy

      I think some swimmers have obviously been doping, though not caught yet. A large lower jaw, tall, prominent ears, large hands and feet, hallmark of acromegaly....or growth hormone doping! Doping wouldnt be detected if hormones were injected years ago; the bony changes are permanent. Allison Shmitt also falls in the same category.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Benjamin

      Michael Phelps used Performance-enhancing drugs in 2008 Olypics and nobody raised a question about it. WHY ?

      He was caught doping several times but still his medals were not stripped off , WHY ?

      Because he is an American ?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donger

      Benjamin and Tommy, you two are morons. He looks the same when he was a small child, was he doping out of the womb? There was nothing inconsistent with his times 2008 that put up red flags like China's Shiwen. If anything Phelps looks like he's doing the minimum this time around, like he'd rather be chilling with a bong, no way is he doping.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |

    No one can compare...the greatest Olympian ever was Spartacus!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • nolongerarepublican

      No, I'm Spatacus!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • McCloud

      There can be only one!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shakur

      No, there is always room for 2....Tupac!!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      He isn't a true Olympian. He used that cheater suit last time to get medals.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      over 90% of the swimmers used those suits at the last Olympics and all serious medal contenders had them. So unless his was a magical one, it did not help him get the medals. Records are a different issue all together. For those people who think he was on performance enhancing drugs, he is one of the most tested athletes in the world, if not the most. It is sad that we cannot be proud or impressed by someone else's achievement, and instead we try to diminish the success of others. Michael Phelps is with out doubt one of the greatest athletes of all times. Don't tear him down just to feel better about yourself.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lindsey

      Not true. I heard his may of had a special coating.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deedz

      Very well said. Only losers don't acknowledge someone else's amazing achievements.
      Very sad for those people.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacob

      Yeah. Cheaters that wear special swimsuits are sad. They gotta wear cheater suits to win.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herculean Jim

      I think you meant he may end up being as great as Greg Looseanus.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Actually only American and Austrailans used those suits. Nobody else.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jasoncdanforth

      Where does cheating start? Maybe they should swim in the nude since that speedo is obviously decreasing drag...

      August 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • M

      Everybody used the suit. Level playing field.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparticus

      No!!!! I'm Sparticus.

      August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Piranha

      NO, I Am Spartacus.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      If he was a country it would be a really smelly one life Nigeria and a monkey from there would get elected president.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Wow your parents must be really proud of the genius they raised!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeb

      Folks this is what Rush Limbough and Faux News does to the brain.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malavaina

      Was he friendly to you when you met him? M.P. is now, present, the history that you can see in the making.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |

      Good one.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. giggity

    I bet he can't beat Jesus in 400

    August 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • renee

      FUNNY!!!! on all your posts!!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. more

    He would also have taken more steroids and smoked more marijuana than some counties...

    August 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. moving1

    if he was a country all kids could smoke weed, and become a good swimmer.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Wow Dude

    we get it. some countries are extremely small.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nolongerarepublican

    Phelps is nothing compared to Bruce Jenner.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • moving1

      Bruce! are you smoking weed.

      August 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. giggity

    He can't beat Romney in flipflopping

    August 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • superjimboman

      I would give 3 to 1 odds and bet the house on Phelps that he would destroy Jesus in the 400. We are talking breaststroke, right?

      August 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    "Greatest Olypian" ever? We can't dispute he has won many medals, but to be an "Olympian" is more than just winning medals – its about the sport, sportsmanship, and being a role model to others. I personally am not sure Mr. Phelps excels in all of those areas, but I don't know him and that's just my opinion.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lainie11

    For a kid that had ADHD, overcame it, and went on to win 19 medals, hats off to him. Great work, Michael!

    August 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jason

    Great? Yes. Greatest? No. Swimming is skewed in that there are different ways to swim and multiple events for each; with swimming, it's possible to do things like medal in 8 events in one Olympics. Many athletes don't have the opportunity to compete in multiple similar events. Many athletes don't have the sponsorships to allow them to train full-time.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. arjun

    Phelps is great but not the greatest. As swimming as a sport is available only to the developed countries, not all the countries participate in it at the olympics. I believe track and field is the real test as every country in the world sends athletes. So, i will consider Carl Lewis the greatest.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Are you kidding me, the olympics actually used to take place in the ocean! So you are telling me that all undeveloped countries don't have oceans or lakes that people can train in??? The same undeveloped countried won't have the same resources for track and field either!!!! Ya just like swimming in oceans or lakes you can run on pretty much any land!!! Your argument fails on so many levels!

      August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nathan

    I agree 100 percent. Plus I heard he might be gay.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robynware

      What does that have to do with anything?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Car Chaser

      ya think?

      August 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • escher7

      No Chic-Filet for him.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hank

    If he were a country, Penn State would be located there. And probably all the cheaters.

    August 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hank

    I think he is a cheater

    August 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hank is jealous

      You are just jealous!!! LOL

      August 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
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