The Olympics and Twitter

Here’s a fun one (via Darren Rovell):




Above is a list of the top-10 most talked about US Olympic athletes on Twitter over the past 6 days.  As you can see, the list is completely dominated by the US swimmers and female gymnasts. This is obviously due to all 10 athletes showcasing their excellence en route to Olympic medals. However, it’s interesting to see what is specifically driving conversation.

With the top-3 most-tweeted-about athletes being swimmers, it’s easy to assume that the swimming competitions are driving more conversation than the gymnastics competitions. However, it’s important to realize that not just the specific sport, or a specific athlete’s excellence, is the reason for being the “topic of conversation” on social media.

What ultimately tends to jack-up the mentions of specific topic on social media is a “viral effect”. This is the type of phenomenon that engrosses multiple demographics on social media, that hundreds of thousands of people can relate to (we have documented this occurrence in the past with our Twitterati Sighting posts).  When you view the list through that lens, it makes total sense that Phelps, Ledeky, and King, hold the top-3 spots on Rovell’s list.

For Phelps, not only is he the greatest American Olympian ever, but he was the subject of one of the biggest social media memes to hit Twitter in a hot minute. With a Sith Lord mean-mug like this, how could Phelps not be #1 on the list?


Michael Phelps Sith Lord Face.jpg


As for Ledeky, well, she smoked everyone by such a large margin in the 800m Freestyle that people on Twitter just started making up fake opponents that Ledeky would be capable of beating. For example, a fucking jetski:




As for Lily King, well, she not only won a gold medal while beating a doped-up Russian opponent… King also reignited some fucking athletic Cold War rhetoric. And as we’ve documented in the past, the mainstream media LOVESSSSS THEM SOME COLD WAR RHETORIC.


Sidenote: Of course Phelps has over 4x as many Twitter mentions as the next closest US athlete…. That’s called the GOAT, folks. 



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