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Michael Phelps gets a Star-Spangled surprise from his “boys from Baltimore”

It probably wouldn’t be very becoming for an Olympian to yell the “O!” during his gold medal ceremony. But it turns out that his friends in the audience still can.

Michael Phelps laughs during a medal ceremony because his “boys from Baltimore” did the “O!” during the anthem.
Michael Phelps laughs during a medal ceremony because his “boys from Baltimore” did the “O!” during the anthem.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The shouting of the “O!” during the national anthem is one of the sacred rituals of going to an Orioles game. If you get enough Marylanders to show up somewhere else, you never know where the “O!” might surface.

The “O!” invaded Brazil on Tuesday night, in celebration of Maryland’s own Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. After Phelps beat out the competition in the 200 meter butterfly, including South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, who came at the king and missed, he earned his way onto the gold medal podium for the 20th time in his illustrious career.

If you made the poor choice of watching last night’s Orioles game, you probably missed the medal ceremony linked above. The headline of the video highlights Phelps getting emotional during this medal ceremony, which is accurate enough. But if you watch it all the way to the end, you will notice, right when it’s time to yell the “O!” Phelps cracks up and laughs for the rest of the song.

They couldn’t have... could they? Yes! They did!

Phelps addressed what happened later in the evening, after he won yet another gold medal with his participation in the 4x200 freestyle relay. Phelps just can’t stop winning gold medals. Speaking to NBC’s Michele Tafoya after that race, he let the rest of the world know of that most Baltimore of sports traditions:

“And all of a sudden I hear them roar “O!” and I knew exactly where it came from and I lost it,” Phelps went on to say. “Those guys came down from Baltimore and New York City to be here. Just special to see those guys in the stands.”

If you were one of Michael Phelps’ friends who made him crack up during the Star-Spangled Banner for his 20th gold medal ceremony, I salute you.

Every now and again you might find some whiner from the territory of pharmaceutical company enthusiasts who regularly exit baseball games during the seventh inning who says something about how it’s disrespectful to yell something when the national anthem is playing.

To them I say, too bad. Michael Phelps has spoken. Back in Maryland, we all say “O!” Never let the rest of the world forget which state gets to claim the greatest Olympian all to ourselves. And that’s without even mentioning Maryland’s next great Olympian, Katie Ledecky...