Thanks to freakish swimming ability for a human being, many fans are quick to label Michael Phelps the “Flying Fish.”
Another animal comparison fits better, though: Cash Cow.
If you’re a Phelps fan, don’t fret about this potentially being his last Olympics. If you’re a Phelps hater, you better get used to him. The Cash Cow is a money-making machine and if NBC knows what it's doing, it will take the man in Speedo and stick him in a suit as an Olympic announcer in 2016.
TMZ reported on Thursday that television executives are sitting on the edge of their seats to sign Phelps to a contract the second the Olympics conclude. A source from inside NBC Sports declared that the question attached to his availability is not if or when, but only how much. It said:
“The man is smoking hot right now"—and they “would definitely hire Michael” to cover the Olympics in 2016, and other world sporting events between now and then.
But, back to the how much.
TMZ also reported that a source inside ABC would love to add Phelps to its sports coverage as well. It said: “If he would, we would gladly scoop him up to work for us.”
Can you say, “bidding war?”
And, what’s the result of the average bidding war for a high-profile celebrity? As TMZ put it: “GAZILLIONS.” He’d be worth every penny too.
Now, you may be thinking, “He’s only relevant every four years. What’s so special?”
According to Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes, 4.7 billion people tuned in to witness Phelps’ historic hot streak in Beijing. He’s known by 89 percent of the public (and I don’t know what the other 11 are doing).
When your children, younger siblings or mother tell you that they want to “Be like Mike” when they grow up, it isn’t a given that they mean Michael Jordan anymore.
And not to doubt the influence of Jordyn Wieber and friends, but it’s safe to say that Phelps’ run at an Olympic medal record was mostly responsible for the millions more that tuned in to NBC’s Tuesday night Olympic coverage compared to Monday’s.
Rick Porter of Zap2It reported that NBC averaged an audience of 31.4 million on Monday next to Tuesday’s 37.5.
The greatest Olympian ever is the face of the Games now. It’s only fitting that when Phelps retires, he’s the face of the Games’ coverage.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.