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Here's Why Michael Phelps Laughed During The National Anthem

"It’s something all of us in Baltimore know well."
USA's Michael Phelps laughs on the podium with his gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Tuesday.
USA's Michael Phelps laughs on the podium with his gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Tuesday.

Michael Phelps’ actions after winning an unprecedented 20th Olympic gold medal Tuesday night had many scratching their heads. 

Phelps was clearly emotional after his triumph in the 200-meter butterfly in Rio de Janeiro. But as he stood atop the podium with tears in his eyes during the U.S. National Anthem, he suddenly looked over his left shoulder and burst into laugher. 

Phelps starts laughing around the 10-second mark

The greatest Olympic swimmer of all time told NBC he was laughing at his boys from his hometown of Baltimore, who were behind him shouting “O” while the U.S. flag was raised. Phelps explained that shouting “O” during the National Anthem is a tradition to fans of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. 

The shouts had come from Phelps’ family and friends, most notably his longtime friend Brian Shea, according to Baltimore Magazine. His friend had promised Phelps that he would give the shoutout to Baltimore at least once during the 2016 Olympics

“I told Michael I’d give him at least one ‘O’ just like I did in London,” Shea told Baltimore Magazine after the race. “I was close enough that I knew he would hear me without cameras picking it up. I honestly didn’t think I’d get him cracking up, but I knew he’d have fun with it. It’s something all of us in Baltimore know well and it was my way of saying that everyone back home is behind you.”

The swimmer from Baltimore clearly got a kick out of the shoutout.

Phelps went on to win his 21st gold medal later that evening when he anchored the 4x200-meter freestyle

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