Shark Week fans were disappointed when they tuned in for Michael Phelps’ race against a Great White Shark on Sunday and found he wasn’t actually swimming side by side with the king of the ocean. According to the former Olympian, people should be better listeners.
Phelps responded to the “haters” and the criticism during an hourlong Facebook Live Q&A on Tuesday. “Scott, you can believe whatever you want,” he told one commenter. “Everything was either presented on air during multiple interviews that I did throughout Shark Week or the beginning of the show. Sorry you feel that way. For me, this was something I always wanted to do, and I was honored to be able to do it. So, I’m sorry that you feel that way. I feel very different.”
He told another, “Some people just decide not to listen to some of the things that we do and that’s not my fault that you don’t do that. It’s pretty easy to open up your ears and listen to either what the TV is saying, what announcers are saying, or what I’m saying in interviews.”
Phelps, equipped with a special fin, and the shark were filmed separately in the ocean and their times were compared. The swimmer told Jimmy Fallon when he appeared on The Tonight Show ahead of the air date, “We’re not in there at the same time and we have safety divers underneath.”
“Everybody wants to pick on something or say something or complain about something… I had fun racing a shark and seeing those animals up close and personal,” Phelps added in the Facebook video. “If somebody actually wants to get in the water and race side by side with a Great White, go ahead. You’re not going to get the shark to swim in a straight line.”
Watch the full video below.
Discovery Channel also released a statement in response to heavy criticism by viewers.
“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,” it reads. “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.”