Michael Phelps is an icon in the United States; when people think of competitive swimming, he comes to mind immediately. He is the most decorated athlete in the history of the modern Olympics, having successfully won twenty-two gold medals since competing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Such success has turned him into a name brand, and, even though he officially retired from competing in the Olympics after 2012, Phelps’ name is still fresh in everyone’s mind; this has led some to believe he might enter the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Phelps first competed in the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney, Australia, but did not achieve his star status until the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Since then, there has been no stopping him.
That is not to say that he has not endured his share of controversies; in 2009 he confirmed that he did indeed smoke marijuana in a photo taken of him while he was attending a party at the University of South Carolina. However, Phelps has also had to face some criticism about his poker and gambling habits.
Phelps’ started playing poker online, with one and two dollar games before moving on to games with higher stakes (“Michael Phelps ‘Has A Gambling Problem And Friends Fear He Could Squander Millions Away’” par 9). Since then Phelps has played in a handful of tournaments — not enough to be considered a professional poker player — but has expressed some interest in pursuing poker as another career option.
Asked why he was playing in a poker tournament after the 2008 Olympics, Phelps replied “I love to play, and it’s fun; it’s exciting. I think this is a good time for me to learn some new things, to pick up a few things in poker…” (Lucchesi par 5). Phelps interest at the time was mainly in learning to better read people, but he was not shy about expressing interest in a possible professional career in poker. He further explained his interest in the game saying he had only been playing for a few years, as of 2008, and wanted to get more serious about poker; what he was really looking for in that tournament back in 2008 was more experience (Lucchesi par 5).
His interest in poker has led to some speculations, and some of Phelps’ friends have expressed concern, that he has a gambling problem. The article “Michael Phelps ‘Has A Gambling Problem And Friends Fear He Could Squander Millions Away’” highlighted that many of Phelps’ friends were felt that his new circle of poker friends was having a negative impact on the swimmer’s life and that their continued influence might cause him to risk the fortune that he had acquired.
For his part, Phelps is not very concerned about this. And it seems any intentions he has to pursue poker professionally might be pushed back, for the immediate future, when he indicated he “would not rule a possible bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro” (“Michael Phelps Biography” par 13). So, for now, everyone is waiting to see what Michael Phelps is going to do.
Sources and Works Cited
Daily Mail Reporter. “Michael Phelps ‘Has A Gambling Problem And Friends Fear He Could Squander Millions Away.’” The Daily Mail. (2012). 1 Dec 2015. Web.
Editors, Biography.com. “Michael Phelps Biography.” Biography.com. (2015). 1 Dec 2015. Web.
Lucchesi, Ryan. “Tournament Trail Q and A — Michael Phelps.” CardPlayer. (2008). 1 Dec 2015. Web.