His 21st Olympics medal, which he won last Tuesday in the 200 m individual medley, probably did nothing more for Michael Phelps, than making him feel better about himself.
This is not surprising, because the 31-year-old sensation, with his still-open-ended medal tally, has outstripped the next in line, Ryan Lochte, by more than double the number of medals.
For Lochte has only 12 Olympic medals in all, next to Phelps’ 25, and 6 golds among them. And this would have made him the greatest swimming sensation in any other age. As an observer writes in The Telegraph, Phelps’ record is equal to that made 2,168 years ago.
A photograph from the last race, showing Chad le Clos from South Africa, the only swimmer to have beaten him ever in the 200 m butterfly in his time, looking desperately at the focused Phelps, is doing the rounds on the Internet.
As with Lochte, the rivalry with le Clos goes a long time back, to the 2012 Olympic 200 m butterfly final to be precise, but the case with the latter is bitterer than that with the former, what with Phelps remaining away from the event for three years following his loss.
Him denigrating the style after his loss did not go down well with le Clos, who had said in an interview that he was not afraid of Phelps and wanted to take him as he came.
While going for his next event, it seems that Phelps and Lochte, among others, have to keep on covering their headphones with impromptu stickers bearing the image of the US flag.
While on the first day, all could see that they were manufactured by Beats, probably a member of IOC had taken notice, which had led to the subsequent cover-up.
Many brands which are not official sponsors of the Olympics have often made the athletes whom they sponsor to advertise for them by underhand means.
Phelps seems to have changed his social style, meeting up with his fiancée, Nicole Johnson, Miss California USA 2010, and their newborn son Boomer Robert, after every win.
Johnson got engaged to Phelps in February 2014, when he proposed, and they had their first child together in May, the couple, who had been together since 2007, had undergone many rough patches, with a break-up in 2011, before patching up in 2014, and getting things straight between them again.
As for his past, he had had his fair share of controversy, with a 2014 DUI arrest and the emergence of a few snapshots of him smoking pot.
While it may not have affected his career per se, what with him already having a net worth of $55 million, it has reduced his potential as a brand ambassador it seems.
As Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University at St. Louis, explained to CNBC, his past incidents of having got involved in controversies does affect his mileage in terms of long-term social image, as does his announcement that this would be his last Olympic.
At present, he advertises for brands like Under Armour, Omega, and many smaller companies.
The only place where his popularity would remain unaffected, no matter what, is his native Baltimore.
It was Baltimore that made him laugh in the middle of an emotional rendition of the US anthem, after having won the 200 m butterfly, a teary-eyed Michael Phelps was seen breaking into giggles.
Later he explained that it was because he had heard the ‘O’s from the audience during the singing, and knew them to be his friends and people from Baltimore who were there to cheer for him. Apparently, the people of Baltimore make it ‘O’ instead of ‘Oh’, and that struck his ears.