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. Captain Obvious

    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).

    Last I checked, GDP was Gross Domestic Product per year. Unless he's making $38 million per year, he's not worth more than the poorest country.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. more2bits

    Imagine if Phelps and Missy married. Their offspring would probably be unbeatable.

    August 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wow

    what an embarrassing article

    August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Really??

    That is a strong question for a guy in a weak sport. Try tackling one of the Manning Bros. In a SB or better try stopping Michael Jordan from scoring 50pts in a NBA Finals game or even better than those try stricking out Albert Pujols in a World Series...... Swimming please????olympics dont need to be more overrated than what it already is

    August 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herby20

      And this is an example of one US citizen making the rest of US look bad.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. alateos

    The real question here is.... what if a country was Michael Phelps?

    August 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve M

    Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer in the world. His record speaks for itself. GOOD JOB MICHAEL!!!!

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

    No doubt MPmis a great athlete, but total number of medals shouldnt be the sole criterium for judging him as such – the total number of medals depends on the number of events as well – U.Bolt could easily surpass MP if we create more T&F events (running backwards, running while flapping arms, running with different styles, etc)

    August 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • cmotdibbler

      Yeah, they could inflate the number of track and field medals by just adding some more events. Maybe they could run a variety of distances or put obstacles in the runners path or see how high or how far they can jump, or throw a spear or heavy object. I guess those are all too complicated.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • escher7

      If flip-flopping were an event Romney would win hands down.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • de haas Bjornsen

      If, but, if, only if, whatever. Phelps is #1. BY FAR.

      August 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    Greatest ever? Only in the events he set records in. Someone sooner or later will prove faster in each event. All around greatest Olympic swim guy...Sure! For now!

    August 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I agree with that assessment, Pt.
      I don't think any *one* person can be names "Greatest Olympian" *ever*.

      August 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brian in TX

    If he was a country I would gladly move there :).

    August 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Really??

    I found out the value of the medals, Makes me wonder what is the point of the Olympics

    August 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. asis76

    Who the hell cares

    August 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Diana

    Where are the headlines, he is the greatest to date! If you measure by number of events and number of years and a work ethic that would put most of us to shame. Great Job!

    August 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Seidan1

    Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever, not the greatest. Noting he has done or ever will do will equal what Jesse Owens did.

    August 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick

    My issue with this post is that other than the first point, phelps doesn't have to "be a country" for these facts to be true. They are all just facts. He has more twitter followers than luxembourg's population right now even though he is not a country. This makes me so mad.

    August 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael Z

    To All the people saying he might be gay...

    I hope he is!!! HOT, HOT, HOT. As God as my witness, I shall marry that gargeous man!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dandydude

      Marry him... yeah .. good luck with that endeavor.. 😉

      August 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
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