Here’s the thing about the Olympics: Only two sports matter.
Swimming and gymnastics.
Oh my gosh, all the water polo and archery fans hate me so hard right now. I’m halfway kidding, guys, calm down.
Listen, I’m thrilled for the U.S. gold medal in shooting, which we won over the weekend. I was thoroughly entertained by the volleyball match I happened to catch on the gym T.V. on Saturday. And I have a deep love for the equestrian team since joining it was my dream from ages 9 through 16, but the odds of a single horse being shown on television is slim to none. For whatever reason, Americans don’t get excited about 1 ton animals working with flimsy little humans to successfully fling themselves over impressive hurdles.
Gymnastics and swimming, though? They’re like the King and Queen of Olympic sports. I’d go ahead and call gymnastics the Queen, since lesbihonest, we care infinitely more about the female team. And swimming can claim the title of King, because the men get all of the fame (mostly because they compete with their shirts off).
I should specify here and say “Summer Olympic” sports. Because for the Winter Olympics, figure skating is the King, the Queen, the Prince, and Kate.
Tennis, basketball, golf, boxing, soccer etc. are cool, but we see them televised pretty regularly outside of the Olympics. Which is why we break out the popcorn to watch gymnastics and swimming every four years. It’s a big moment!
Actually, that argument makes no sense when it comes to fencing, taekwondo,
ping pong table tennis, and basically 70% of the Team USA’s Olympic sports, but for whatever reason, Americans really put swimming and gymnastics on a pedestal. Occasionally, we’re drunk enough to watch diving or judo (I legit don’t know what that is), but the odds of any of those athletes ending up on a Wheaties box are about as slim as Kim Kardashian being able to move a single muscle on her face by 2040.
Wait, Wheaties and Kim Kardashian are only once removed, because
Bruce Kaitlyn Jenner is her stepdad. How is she involved with everything???
Whatever. Not including athletes who could be repeat cover models (i.e. Michael Phelps), here are the top 5 athletes you can look forward to seeing on your cereal box if you’re the kind of person who enjoys Wheaties even though Honey Bunches of Oats is far superior. I only included gymnasts and swimmers because [see above]:
1. Gabby Douglas, Gymnastics
Believe it or not, my BFF Gabby Douglas (she’s from Virginia Beach, too, which means we’re obviously old pals) has never been on a Wheaties box, despite her impressive performance (and fame) at the Olympics in 2012. This is because Kellogg’s Corn Flakes stole her face for their box. Cereal dramaaa!! But if I were her, I’d want my face on the Wheaties box at least once in my life, because historical clout trumps money. So this year, I’m going to guess she and her other weirdly flexible teammates will make the right choice and be #teamwheaties.
2. Simone Biles, Gymnastics
Simone is the new Gabby. Gabby used to be the Justin Timberlake of
the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team N*SYNC, but now she’s J.C. Chasez, and Simone is J.T. Poor Aly Raisman, who was the most decorated gymnast in 2012 and team captain in both 2012 and 2016. She’s Lance Bass. Definitely a necessity to the squad, but never in the front of the formation. Better than being Chris or Joey, I guess. Anyway, the point is that Simone is the only other female gymnast besides Gabby with hopes of having her own solo cover on Wheaties. The entire team will probably make a box as a group (if they don’t royally screw up due to pressure to be as good as the 2012 team), but for solo action, keep an eye out for Justin and maybe J.C. again.
3. Missy Franklin, Swimming (200m Free, 800m Free Relay, 200m Back)
First of all, Missy is a beast in the pool. Who cares that she had a bad day and didn’t qualify for one of the events she won in 2012? Doesn’t matter. She already won like 1 million medals last Olympics, and is one of few people in the world who can outswim a shark. (I made all of that up, but she’s v. good.) Second, she has a winning smile. Third, she already has a contract with Wheaties…or she did back in 2012. However, an endorsement doesn’t equal a box cover. Unless my Google search has failed me, she never got her cover girl moment, but she did eat a whole lot of Wheaties and take many a photo holding boxes of other athletes on the box. The girl did her time. Give her a box, Wheaties!!
4. Katie Ledecky, Swimming (400m Free, 200m Free, 800m Free Relay, 800m Free)
This chick holds the world records for basically every swimming event in the world. She’s only 19, and this is her second Olympics, which means that I need to go into a corner and ask myself what I’ve done with my life. She won a gold medal at age FIFTEEN. I can’t. I should also mention that she’s competing in FOUR events this year, which is more than any other female swimmer on the team. Talk about pulling all the weight on a group project. She deserves an A and a Wheaties box.
5. Chase Kalisz, Swimming (400m IM)
The odds of a male athlete gracing a box of Wheaties this year doesn’t look good– not for lack of talent, but for lack of anyone being able to outshine Michael Phelps. Ryan Lochte gave it a run for his money in 2012, but even his good looks and alarming stupidity couldn’t draw enough attention to get him considered for a cover shoot. Chase has a shot, though, because he has known Michael Phelps since he was a toddler. Maybe something’s in their hometown water…? I mean the kind you drink, but I guess the pool kind could work in this instance, too.
Chase was also Michael Phelp’s training partner for this year’s Olympics, which means he’s at least good enough to make MP push himself, which sounds pretty epic to me. If I was swimming next to Michael Phelps, I’d look like a swollen piece of plankton just floating along. [Update since I wrote this: Chase won bronze in his race.] Anyway, Chase is only 22, and only swimming in one event this year, so he might have to wait another 4 years before he can break through the enormous shadow that is Michael Phelps, but he’s worth mentioning on this list so that I don’t look like I couldn’t care less about our U.S. male athletes. You guys are great.
Honorable mention: Dana Vollmer, Swimming (100m Butterfly, 400m Free Relay)
This is her THIRD Olympics (she won gold in 2004 & 2012…not sure where she was in 2008, but I hope she got really fat like a normal person and then had to pull herself back together). Plus, this woman just had a baby 16 months ago. If that doesn’t qualify her for a Wheaties box, I don’t know what does.
I probably should’ve included Conor Dwyer or Nathan Adrian, but it’s too late now. My hands have spoken.