Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps both won gold at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Aug. 9. Douglas and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won gold in the team final while Phelps earned his 20th gold medal for the 200-meter butterfly final.
Both Olympians caught Twitter’s attention for their reactions during their respective medal ceremonies. As the American national anthem played, Douglas was slammed for not placing her hand over her heart like her teammates while many found joy in Phelp’s laughter at the song.
The celebrated moment for the 20-year-old gymnast quickly turned sour as Twitter went from cheering her on to calling her disrespectful.
Max Johnson demanded the athlete “show some pride and respect” by placing her hand over her heart.
Another user called Douglas a “sorry American.”
Charlie Jackson said it was “not a good look.”
Melissa Tippets said she was “so disgusted” by the star’s “blatant disrespect” for America and thought if Douglas wouldn’t place her hand over her heart, she should exit the podium.
So disgusted by #GabbyDouglas blatant disrespect for her country on the OLYMPIC podium. Hand over your heart or get off the stage.
— Melissa (@melissatippets1) August 10, 2016
Douglas later responded to the backlash, saying she “never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone.”
“I’m so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country!”
— Gabrielle Douglas (@gabrielledoug) August 10, 2016
However, Phelps did not receive the same backlash that Douglas did.
In response to Tippets’ post, Larry Watts asked if the swimmer’s laughter during the anthem as his medal ceremony was also disrespectful “or because he was white you do not care?”
Tippets said it was not race related.
Phelps began laughing at the national anthem lyric, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave.” For Baltimore natives, it’s traditional for fans at Orioles baseball games to yell “O” at that point in the song, according to US News. As someone who hails from the Maryland city, Phelps heard the shout and began laughing.
Phelps heard the "O" during the anthem pic.twitter.com/s11m18A2ni
— Jameson Cokas (@jameson2111) August 10, 2016
“My boys from Baltimore were down on the other end, and back in Maryland, we all say ‘O’ for the Orioles during that part of the national anthem,” he told NBC. “And all of the sudden I hear them roar ‘O’ and I knew exactly where it came from, and I just lost it because those guys came down from Baltimore and New York City to be here, and it’s just special to see those guys in the stands.”
Twitter thought Phelp’s response was all in good fun.
Olympic figure skater Polina Edmunds called the reaction “pure joy.”
— Polina Edmunds (@PolinaEdmunds) August 10, 2016
@KyleWIIM thought the swimmer – who went on to win his 21st gold medal an hour later – was a legend for laughing as his competitors stood beside him.
Michael Phelps laughing on the podium while the other two look miserable. Legend imo. pic.twitter.com/nZ8QovMuoa
— Kyle M. (@KyleWIIM) August 10, 2016
@caileyrobs called Phelp’s actions “so moving.”
seeing michael phelps crying and smiling and laughing during the national anthem was so moving omg
— cailey (@caileyrobs) August 10, 2016