Saw Michael Phelps at the Kentucky Derby, then saw him again a week later in his hometown of Towson, MD, as I interviewed him on a funny and emotion-filled night for Homecoming (airs July 2 on ESPN.) His coach, Bob Bowman, owns a couple race horses, so he's getting into the ponies. I asked him how he did betting and, like all of us, he had a tale of heartache and woe.
"Every race, I bet $20 on the eight horse, because that's my lucky number," Phelps said, referring to the eight gold medals he won at the Beijing Olympics. "All the way up through the 10th race, I bet the eight horse and it never wins. So, for the Derby, I don't bet the eight horse. What comes in? The eight horse (Mine That Bird). I'm an idiot." By the way, a $20 bet on Mine That Bird to win would've made Phelps nearly $1,020.
As for the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps isn't saying what events he'll swim nor how many he'll enter, but I'd put money on the sprints. I watched him lift Saturday morning and the man's a beast. He's 203 pounds and even more ripped in the upper body. I watched him put on a 44-pound vest and do 10 pull-ups—the hard kind, where your arms go all the way down. It's a long way off, but I'd get your "win" bets ready.