Michael Phelps wasn’t listening to Eminem when he made the face that was meme’d around the world at the Rio Olympics — that was Future’s “Stick.” But on Sunday’s live, all-star version of “Lip Sync Battle” on Spike, the swimmer showed some love for Slim by performing the Detroit rapper’s 2002 hit “Lose Yourself.”
The setting and costuming, while slightly reminiscent of Mugatu’s “Derelicte” fashion show in “Zoolander,” was nonetheless pitch-perfect. And Phelps clearly has felt the words, felt his knees weak, palms sweaty and knows what it’s like to choke.
The result was a rousing performance with a hint of #PhelpsFace and a healthy dose of swagger.
The one slightly odd note was the American flag triumphantly unfurling behind Phelps as Eminem is at his lowest point in the song, not having yet redeemed himself after choking.
Sure, Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, is an American hero. But perhaps the point of Phelps performing this particular song was to reveal the vulnerability and doubt that every athlete, regardless of stature, can experience.
Watch the video of Phelps losing himself (but not the battle) above.