Fans were seriously disappointed when Michael Phelps raced a great white shark for Shark Week, because the Olympian went up against a CGI version of the speedy predator instead of a living creature. People were quick to voice their displeasure over being “cheated,” even though Phelps had said in his pre-race interviews that he would not be swimming next to an actual shark. Now the athlete is responding to the “haters” amid ongoing backlash.
“Everybody wants to pick on something or say something or complain about something,” Phelps said in a Facebook video. “If somebody actually wants to get in the water and race side by side with a Great White, go ahead. You’re not going to get the shark to swim in a straight line.” Fair enough.
And when it comes to claims that viewers were misled by promos, Phelps made it clear during a Facebook Live Q&A on Tuesday (accompanied by his cute curly-haired son, Boomer) that he feels the ads were pretty clear and people just weren’t paying attention. “Everything was either presented on air during multiple interviews that I did throughout Shark Week or the beginning of the show,” he explained, adding, “Some people just decide not to listen to some of the things that we do and that’s not my fault that you don’t do that. It’s pretty easy to open up your ears and listen to either what the TV is saying, what announcers are saying, or what I’m saying in interviews.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, Discovery Channel also released a statement addressing the criticism: “All the promotion, interviews, and the program itself made clear that the challenge wasn’t a side-by-side race. During Michael’s pre-show promotion, as well as within the first two minutes of ‘Phelps Vs Shark,’ this message was clear and we are thrilled with the audience and the engagement around the world.”
The audience’s response certainly makes something else clear: People want a REAL side-by-side human vs. shark race to happen. That is, if a shark is willing.
Were you confused and/or disappointed by Michael Phelps’ shark race? Let us know @BritandCo!
(h/t Entertainment Weekly; photos via Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty)