Michael Phelps finished his swimming career (probably) on Saturday night in Rio, capping off a spectacular meet in which he won five golds and one silver, sending his Olympic medal count soaring to even more unfathomable heights. In celebration of Michael Phelps' 28 Olympic medals, here are 28 facts about his already-unbreakable record
Getty ImagesAdam Pretty
If Michael Phelps was a country, he'd be ranked 32nd on the all-time medal count. That's all-time, as in everything a country has won in 120 years and 28 Summer Olympics.
Since 2004, when Phelps won his first Olympic race, only 12 countries have won more golds. Thus, Phelps is No. 13 on the gold-medal list since Athens. Among the many that don't have Phelps beat: Spain, Brazil, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Cuba, Greece, Romania and the Netherlands.
AFP/Getty ImagesGABRIEL BOUYS
Only 46 countries on the planet have won more total medals than Phelps. Note: We're comparing him to active countries. Sorry, USSR and East Germany.
Getty ImagesAdam Pretty
That means Phelps has more Summer Olympic medals than 160 countries. (Of those, 87 have won at least one medal but are below Phelps' total of 28. The additional 73 have never made a podium in history.)
Getty ImagesRichard Heathcote
Given that 205 countries are competing in Rio, Phelps has more medals than 75% of the rest of the world.
Phelps would currently be 12th in the 2016 medal count, going by the official gold standard. That puts him ahead of 193 countries. If you go by total medals, he'd be 16th. But he'd need a name if he were his own country. Phelpsphanistan has a solid ring to it.
Photonews via Getty ImagesPhotonews
Nobody else has even hit double-digit gold medals in their Olympics career. (The record before Phelps had been nine). Heck, nobody else is within 14 (!) gold medals of Phelps. If you doubled the individual gold-medal count for the second-ranked athlete(s) on the medal rankings, they'd still be five behind Phelps.
AFP/Getty ImagesGABRIEL BOUYS
Stop with this talk about "well Phelps is a swimmer and they have so many more opportunities for gold so it's not that great!" Just stop it. Do you want to sound like a moron? Then take that stance. Why? Because the most gold medals won by any other swimmer is nine. Only four swimmers in history have more than five gold medals. If you take the six most decorated swimmers in history behind Phelps, and add up their gold medals from individual races (not relays), they combine for 13, the same total Phelps has won by himself. If it were so easy, everybody'd be doing it. Truth is, nobody's close.
Phelps has five more gold medals than any athlete has medals of any color. Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina had 18 total. The third most medals belong to Nikolai Andrianov, another Soviet gymnast who had 15 to his name. Three athletes are tied for fourth with 13 overall medals. Two were gymnasts, one was a fencer. But the amount of medals up for grabs in swimming is unfair, right?
Starting in Athens, Phelps has medaled in 44% of every men's swimming event at the Olympics. There have been 64 races, Phelps has competed in 29 and medaled in 28.
AFP/Getty ImagesFILIPPO MONTEFORTE
The 300,000 citizens of Iceland were described by The New Yorker as having "ecstatic numerical aphasia," meaning they like to equate and extrapolate events involving their citizenry to a larger scale. (For instance, if 50,000 Icelanders welcomed the semifinal Euro Cup soccer team when they returned home, that'd be 1/6th of the population. An Icelander with this "numerical aphasia" might point out that it'd be like if 53 million Americans had done so.) It's a fascinating, frivolous, exercise. For instance, we could say this: If America's athletes performed at a Phelps-like ratio, they'd win 255 out of 306 gold medals in Rio. Ultimately, it's meaningless and with enough examples soon begins to lose any import. I mention this because the next few facts on our list are of the same ilk, but they're really, really fun to compare.
AFP/Getty ImagesPEDRO UGARTE
Countries with a combined population of 2.7 billion don't have as many total golds (21) as Phelps does by himself. Separately, if you added up the total population of all the countries that don't have as many medals by themselves as Phelps, you get approximately 4.4 billion. The world population is estimated at 7.4 billion.
AFP/Getty ImagesTIMOTHY A. CLARY
In its history, India has won one medal for every 50 million citizens. That comes to one medal for every 0.000002 people. Michael Phelps has 28 medals for every Michael Phelps. Thus, Michael Phelps is 14 million times more likely to win a medal than anybody in India.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
We're not picking on India, just using the world's second-biggest country as a comparison. (They're the most dominant men's field hockey team in history, by the way.) But Argentina is home to the greatest soccer player in the world (Messi), one of the all-time soccer greats (Maradona), two U.S. Open tennis champions (Juan Martin Del Potro and Gabriela Sabatini), NBA champs (Manu Ginobili), a two-time major champion in golf (Angel Cabrera), a slew of other great athletes and a women's field hockey team that consistently ranks as one of the best in the world. It's competed in 24 of the 28 Summer Olympics. In other words, Argentina is a place that values sport (and has been home to many-a big-time athlete). Michael Phelps has more five more gold medals than Argentina has in 116 years of Olympic participation.
Getty ImagesMatthias Hangst
Phelps' all-time ranks for most medals in a single Olympics: Athens (T-1st), Beijing (T-1st), London (T-9th), Rio (T-9th). That means four of the top nine performances in Summer Olympic history belong to Michael Phelps.
Getty ImagesDavid Ramos
If you factor in the quality of medals: Athens (3rd), Beijing (1st), London (T-15th), Rio (T-8th). So, of the 15 greatest Summer Olympic performances ever, Phelps has four.
Getty ImagesJean Catuffe
Of the 97 Summer Olympians with seven or more medals, six are female American swimmers. Combined, those swimmers have the same amount of golds (23) as Phelps. In total, however, they have 59 medals. (When Tokyo rolls around in four years, Katie Ledecky will make this stat obsolete.)
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
Phelps is one of three athletes in history to win the same event at four straight Olympics. Al Oerter won the discus from 1956-1968. Carl Lewis won the long jump from 1984-1996. And Phelps has won the 200 IM from 2004-2016. Other than the club Phelps created for himself, this is the most exclusive one in the Olympics.
AFP/Getty ImagesERIC FEFERBERG
If Katie Ledecky were to stay at her current gold-medal rate, she wouldn't pass Phelps until the 2036 Olympics when she'd be 39 years old.
Getty ImagesRyan Pierse
With Phelps from Baltimore and Ledecky from the D.C. suburb Bethesda, not to mention a slew of other swimmers who won golds on relay, Maryland has won more gold medals than any country except China and, obviously, the United States. The Old Line State is the ninth-smallest in the nation.
The United States would have lost the medal count title in Athens if not for Phelps. U.S. athletes won 38 golds (32 without Phelps) compared to China's 34.
Getty ImagesRobert Laberge
Of the tens of thousands of athletes to have competed in the Olympics, only two have half the amount of medals as Phelps. And as we've stated, no one is within 2.5 times of his gold-medal count.
Getty ImagesIan MacNicol
The United States is the most dominant swimming country in the world, winning the medal count at every Olympics Jimmy Carter didn't ruin for the past 56 years. So, over the past 12 years, the U.S. has destroyed the competition, winning 65 more medals than any other country. And of those 119 medals, 51 were gold. Now, of the 51 gold medals the U.S. has won since 2004, Phelps has (say it with me now) 23, which means he's won 41% of the gold medals in the past four Olympics for the most dominant swim team in history.
AFP/Getty ImagesGREG WOOD
The first four races of Phelps' Olympic career ended with him in 5th-gold-bronze-bronze, with those races being, respectively, 200 fly (2000), 400 IM (2004), 4x100 free (2004) and 200 free (2004 - the so-called "race of the century). Other than the 4x100 free relay, there was little disappointment in those results. The 5th in the 200 fly in Sydney, when Phelps was the youngest American swimmer since 1932, was a triumph. And finishing third in that stacked 200 free was nothing to sneeze at. But since then, Phelps won gold in 22 of his last 26 races and medals in 25 of 26.
AFP/Getty ImagesCHRISTOPHE SIMON
Phelps set 10 world records in winning those 23 golds and five more Olympic and/or American records. (Obviously he broke Olympic and American records in setting all those WRs too.)
AFP/Getty ImagesMARTIN BUREAU
When trying to describe Phelps, dominance doesn't cover it, so you look for other adjectives and inevitably get to the those created in the sports world: Ruthian and Beamonesque. Ruth had just more than twice as many home runs than the man who was second on the HR list the day Ruth retired (Lou Gehrig). Beamon broke the record by 2.5 times the distance than the previous record had improved on Jesse Owens' long-time mark. And Phelps has 2.5 times more gold medals than anyone else. The similarities are amazing. So let's call it Phelpstyle.
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In a 24-hour span on August 15-16, 2004, Phelps won two bronze medals. In the 4,380 days since, he's won nothing but gold or silver.
Bongarts/Getty ImagesMartin Rose
Nobody alive today will ever see anyone break Phelps' record 23 golds. This is not an opinion. Come on, it's on a list of facts!