There is no man or woman on this earth who has won more Olympic medals than Michael Phelps – the superhuman swimmer with no fewer than 22 medals (18 of them gold) to his name.
Growing up in Maryland, sport and discipline were already in his blood – with a father who had been both a college football player and a state trooper, and a middle school principle for a mother.
Phelps was only 7 years old when he first took up swimming – and by the age of 10 was already the best in the country for his grade. In 2000, at the age of just 15, he qualified for the summer Olympics – becoming the youngest member of the US Swim Team in almost 70 years.
He didn’t win a medal that year – but came back with a vengeance in 2004, picking up 6 gold and 2 bronze medals. In 2008, he again won 8 medals – this time, all of them gold. And most recently at London 2012, he took home 4 gold and 2 silver medals.
To say that Michael Phelps is obsessive is an understatement – he was born with a definite advantage, but he’s a man who trains to the point of perfection. And that obsession can also be seen when it comes to the way he plays poker.
Back in 2012 a close friend of Phelps’ told The National Enquirer that they were worried about his casino habit – because he was applying the ‘don’t quit until you win’ mentality that has stood him in such good stead in the pool, to his gambling.
It was online poker that first reeled him in – starting with low-stakes games, Phelps gradually got into bigger and bigger money. According to the friend, back in 2012 he played a weekly game with a minimum buy-in of $25,000 – and they were worried. More recently, Phelps tweeted a picture of a poker table with chips worth $3.6million in play – so it appears the stakes have risen.
In 2014 it was reported that Phelps had been arrested in Baltimore on suspicion of driving under the influence – after what sources claimed was an eight hour ‘gambling binge’ in the VIP room at the Horseshoe Casino. He was way over the legal drink drive limit, and after the incident tweeted “I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down”.
With the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, let’s hope that Michael Phelps starts to focus on his swimming, and leaves the rest of us to gamble on him. If he does, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be bringing home even more gold medals next year.