If you watched the Discovery Channel special “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” Sunday night, you might feel like you wasted an hour.
That’s because with just a few minutes left in the show, you learned that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps wouldn’t actually be swimming against a Great White shark as had been hyped in promos and on social media.
According to the Washington Post, it wasn’t until 57 minutes into the show that ecologist Tristan Gutteridge said, “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.”
That simulation showed Phelps swimming in the ocean against a computer-generated image of a shark.
Twitter users were having none of it.
“So you mean to tell me Michael Phelps didn’t even race a real shark? It was just a simulation. I’m mad. More like Shark WEAK!” wrote Frank Costa from New York.
Comedian Cormac Moore of Dublin wrote “Michael Phelps needs to race a shark in a pool where we can all watch.”
Donald Forbes said “Phelps’ racing the shark became his “jumping the shark.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “Let’s be real. No one wanted Phelps to race the shark. They wanted to watch him be torn limb from limb. And I don’t blame them.”
Sports radio talk show host Gary Parrish wrote “Turns out ‘Michael Phelps races a shark’ was really just ‘Michael Phelps swims along and then compares his time to a shark’s time.'”
Phelps ended up “losing” to the computer-generated shark by two seconds.
Moments after the show ended, he tweeted that he’s ready for a rematch.
Laurie Goldberg , Group EVP of PR for Discovery, Animal Planet and Science, released the following statement:
“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.”