President Obama to Michael Phelps: Hail to you, chief

President Obama gives a speech.
(Cliff Owen / Associated Press)

LONDON -- The congratulatory telegram is so last century, the congratulatory phone call so last decade. When Michael Phelps awoke on Wednesday, he scrolled through his Twitter feed and discovered a congratulatory tweet from President Obama.

“Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record,” Obama tweeted. “You’ve made your country proud. -bo”

Phelps tweeted back: “Thank you Mr. President!! It’s an honor representing the #USA !! The best country in the world!!”

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Phelps then shared the tweets with his 668,000 followers. Obama has 18 million followers.

Phelps also shared the greetings from John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Donte Stallworth of the New England Patriots, former football star Desmond Howard, speed skating champion Apolo Anton Ohno, skateboarder Shaun White, singer Samantha Ronson, “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest and several professional poker players.

“I started scrolling through thousands of mentions, and I was like, man, this is a lot of things to look at,” Phelps said.

“Obviously, I wanted to say thank you to all of my friends. Obama, [Spain’s Gerard] Pique the soccer player, a bunch of athletes, figures from all over the world that were sending things. It was pretty cool.”

Teen swim sensation Missy Franklin blissfully lost her cool after seeing a congratulatory tweet from teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.

“Heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. now im a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove”

Franklin shared that message and added this note: “I just died! Thankyou!”

She said she was floored by Bieber’s tweet.

“I could not believe that,” she said. “When I saw that, I was running around like a chicken with their head cut off. I was so excited.

“Scotty McCreery (an “American Idol” winner) actually tweeted me too. So I was super excited about that. My two favorite singers tweeted me. It was incredible.”

Bieber has 26 million followers, second in the world to Lady Gaga. Obama ranks sixth.

The top athlete? Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, with 12 million followers.


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