Skip to main content

Michael Phelps explains why he laughed during the National Anthem

Michael Phelps cracked up toward the end of the National Anthem on Tuesday night. Now, we know why.

While an emotional Michael Phelps was standing atop the podium during the medal ceremony for the men’s 200-meter butterfly event, he burst out in laughter toward the end of the National Anthem.

Phelps, who had just won his 20th gold medal, was teary-eyed, but suddenly looked over to the left and burst out in laughter. Then, at the end of the song, he looked back over and pointed.

Most of the nation wondered what he found so funny.


Well, it appears we have an answer. Phelps grew up in Baltimore, where they emphasize one word in the anthem for their beloved Orioles.

Here’s what Phelps told NBC after winning yet another gold, his 21st, in the men’s 4x200 meter freestyle relay:

My boys from Baltimore were down on the other end, and back in Maryland, we all say “O!” for the Orioles during that part of the National Anthem. And all of the sudden I hear them roar “O!” and I knew exactly where it came from, and I just lost it because those guys came down from Baltimore and New York City to be here, and it’s just special to see those guys in the stands.

It was an eventful night for Phelps—with two gold medals, two ceremonies, a ripped swimming cap, and interviews galore. Seeing his hometown friends might have been up there as one of the highlights.

– Kenny Ducey