Michael Phelps got his swift ass beat by a great white shark on Sunday to kick off Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. Well, not exactly. Phelps didn’t actually race a shark, but a CGI model of a shark and a CGI Phelps faced off in a race that the shark won by about two seconds.
It’s bad enough that Phelps couldn’t defend humanity’s honor and beat the shark, but the fact that he didn’t line up against a shark at all after all that hype was a huge letdown for a lot of people. Social media was outraged that Discovery Channel strung people along like that for an hour. But Phelps wants you to know, however, that it’s not his fault.
The greatest American Olympian of all-time defended himself in a Facebook live video he published on Tuesday. Answering questions while holding his child, Phelps said it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t get to race a shark.
Phelps took questions for nearly an hour on Facebook Tuesday night, responding to viewer frustrations, talking about how the Ravens will do this year, and just generally being there for people that were let down by the event. Here’s a quick summary of his thoughts on the race from the Associated Press.
He notes that a shark doesn’t swim in a straight line and suggested that a side-by-side race with the predator would be impossible. He later added that he made it clear before the show aired that he wouldn’t be racing a real shark.
In hindsight, people should have seen this coming. The promotional release for the event was remarkably vague, and often that means more style than substance during Shark Week.
It was good to see Phelps talk to fans about the event and get out ahead of the outrage, though. At one point he sipped Kermit-style from an “I heart Dad” mug, which was adorable. And while many viewers were mad about the event, Phelps had nothing but good things to say about his experience. Phelps said studying the sharks with scientists was something he’ll never forget.
“This truly was a dream come true for me,” Phelps said, while the rest of the Internet tried to pick up the pieces of their shattered shark dreams.