Today, at a news conference announcing that Michael Phelps would be in London for the closing ceremony for a Visa handoff event to the 2012 games, I had a chance to catch up with the swimming superstar.
(Transcript of interview follows.)
Darren: How aware are you of how big you are in this world?
Michael: I think once I start traveling a little bit more, I think I'll realize it...I've probably gotten 5,000 messages over the past two to three days (on his BlackBerry)
Darren: You're big in the collectible world. Your autograph is selling for a lot of money these days.
Michael: It's cool just because I've had this dream of changing the sport of swimming and it's finally happening. All the hard work I've put into competing and training and changing the sport. Everything is sort of falling into place.
Darren: You've gotten the excitement up about swimming, but how can you make it translate?
Michael: I think the biggest things I am looking forward to is getting new faces into the sport. Getting kids who could be afraid of water to feel comfortable in the pool. You know that's how I started swimming. My mom put me and my sisters in the water to feel comfortable, to have water safety.
Darren: Your mom got an endorsement deal the other day with Johnson's. She's like Wilma McNabb.
Michael: She actually told me that last night when I saw her. She got "Mom of the Olympics" by Johnson's Baby. It was pretty funny, but she's excited to go to New York and do some things there for it.
Darren: I guess that's how you know when you're big -- your mom gets endorsements. You mentioned that you liked Michael Jordan and you wanted to "Be Like Mike." If you are the new "Mike," are you ok with it?
Michael: Yeah, my friends call me Mike, Michael or just my last name.
Darren: What's the word on the Speedo ($1 million) bonus check? How's the processing on that?
Michael: I have no idea. But that [the victory margin] was a pretty big 100th of a second.
Darren: You mentioned you had to have a burger after you were done. Any category of endorsements you'd like to entertain?
Michael: I love fast food. I mean, I eat fast food all the time. So I think a fast food deal would be pretty fun.
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