On Sunday night, Michael Phelps was bested in the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week special, Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White.
The 23-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer was never going to race against a real great white shark, but many fans believed he was.
The computer-generated simulation of a shark beat Phelps by two seconds in Sunday’s Phelps vs. Shark, but given an hour of buildup, special wet suits and studies, fans really hoped to see him race a real shark.
During Sunday’s special, viewers heard ecologist Tristan Gutteridge say, “Clearly, we can’t put Michael in one lane and a white shark on the far lane. We’re gonna have to do a simulation.”
When Gutteridge revealed the news, and Phelps didn’t race a real great white shark, fans took to Twitter to complain and share what they pictured happening during the race.
— Ryan Homler (@RHomler) July 24, 2017
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 24, 2017
It's not lookin' good, Phelps pic.twitter.com/SzuUhzhGiU
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) July 24, 2017
Some fans felt “robbed” by the simulation.
— Meg Conley (@MegDownSouth) July 24, 2017
— Michael Pezzetta (@mpezzetta13) July 24, 2017
Me pretending to be ok with Michael Phelps not racing a real shark pic.twitter.com/QnCF98NfBB
— Gabi Palamone (@Yo_Gabi_Gabi__) July 24, 2017
Other fans were just disappointed in their time spent watching the special to see a hypothetical race.
i spent 60 minutes of my life watching a build up to michael phelps race a fake computer generated shark. i'm pissed
— spo (@spoyourboat) July 24, 2017
Michael Phelps race against a computer generated shark will go down as one of TV's most hyped flops. #gullibleTVviewers
— PhantomAcct (@phantomacct) July 24, 2017
I honestly feel so robbed that I just watched an hour of a stupid show to see Michael Phelps race a FAKE shark. #fakenews
— Hannah Bowen (@HannahGBowen) July 24, 2017
Michael Phelps has been hyping up that he's going to race a shark for months now. He did it tonight and it was a damn CGI shark #FakeNews
— Cole Hill (@theSwoleCole) July 24, 2017
YOU SAID HE WOULD FACE A SHARK, NOT A CGI SHARK
— Cindy (@ESPNCindy) July 24, 2017
Waited an hour for Michael Phelps to race a CGI shark.
Discovery is receiving a strongly worded letter fur sure.
— Jerod Breth (@PhreshBreth) July 24, 2017
— Jessica Morrey (@JessicaMorrey) July 24, 2017
— Breyanna Davis (@breyannachenal) July 24, 2017
Others on Twitter were confused by people thinking Phelps would actually race beside a great white shark.
I'm seriously baffled by all of you that thought Michael Phelps was going to race in the water next to an actual shark. pic.twitter.com/EfaEy6B82Y
— TheFactualJD (@karsonwithak) July 24, 2017
If you're angry because you seriously thought that Michael Phelps was going to race a real great white shark, who are you REALLY mad at?
— Amy Volume (@amyvolume) July 24, 2017
Seriously? People really thought National Treasure, Michael Phelps was really going to get into the water and race a Great White Shark??? 🙄 pic.twitter.com/Ms1SbaF8lb
— Felipe [VooDoo57] (@VooDoo_57) July 24, 2017
People seriously thought Michael Phelps was going to race side-by-side with a real shark?! Hahaha! #SharkWeek
— Katie (@Katie3294) July 24, 2017
— Michele⚓️ (@SavannahMichele) July 24, 2017
READ MORE: Michael Phelps ‘death stare’ is now a tattoo
Phelps finished the 100-metre race in 38 seconds, two seconds slower than the simulated shark.
Phelps tweeted Sunday that he’d like a rematch, but in warmer water.
— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) July 24, 2017
Following the complaints, Discovery released a statement regarding the Phelps special and the use of CGI sharks.
“In PHELPS VS SHARK we enlisted world class scientists to take up the challenge of making the world’s greatest swimmer competitive with a Great White. The show took smart science and technology to make the challenge more accessible and fun. 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 2 minutes of PHELPS VS SHARK, this message was clear and we are thrilled with the audience and the engagement around the world,” Discovery said in a statement.
— With files from the Associated Press