• 08.12.16

These Are The Gold-Medal Memes Of The Summer Olympics So Far

The Summer Olympic Games are only halfway over, and already there’s enough participatory joke fodder to keep you busy through Winter ’18.

These Are The Gold-Medal Memes Of The Summer Olympics So Far
Michael Phelps’s #PhelpsFace

It’s been a divisive summer, to say the least. Prior to the Olympics, the only thing that brought us all together was the death of Muhammad Ali, and that sucked. In contrast, the Summer Games have been a merciful beacon of torchlight, guiding us all toward one another so that we may celebrate some athletes–and make deliciously evil fun of others–as one big, weird family. All of this shared enjoyment has left a substantial digital footprint, too.


Merely watching live events on TV these days is not enough. Instead, we’re also mining each moment for anything funny or interesting to comment on or photoshop into unexpected new contexts. This is why the Oscars, the Super Bowl, and–why not?–even the Republican National Convention feel more participatory than ever. Whenever something quietly amazing or hilarious happens during a massively viewed event, you never have to ask, “Did anyone else notice that?” Just look down at your phone. (You were already doing that anyway.) Somebody else did indeed notice that too, and they posted a gallery about it on Imgur with the caption, “When you see the booty.”

Though we’re not even one full week into the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the goings-on in Rio have already given us so much. Have a look below at Co.Create‘s favorites, and tweet us any that we’ve missed. We’re all in this together after all.

Tonga’s Most Famous Oilman

It didn’t take longer than the beginning of the Opening Ceremony before our first meme arrived. During the Parade of Nations, hella jacked Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua showed up so oiled down he could win a gold medal in the Glazed Donut Lookalike Olympics. Everybody had a lot of fun tweeting the athlete’s picture next to other similarly shiny things, and then the minor phenomenon got super weird when Taufatofua had a fondle-y turn on The Today Show.

Michael Phelps’s #PhelpsFace

This will probably be remembered as the grandaddy of Rio Olympics memes; the successor to McKayla Maroney’s Smirk Heard Round The World. Phelps shot a weirdly Jonah Ryan-esque look at his opponent pre-pool battle, and it was the kind of face one usually only sees just before perishing by bayonet blade.


Fu Yuanhui Is Feelin’ It

Of course, the antidote to #PhelpsFace is Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui, whose quirky expressions of joy have captivated millions. She has more distinct looks than there are Pokémon, and Co.Create is way more interested in catching all of those.

Hernandez’s Wink & Motivation
U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez may not have got as much attention as Simone and Aly–bless their amazing/adorable hearts–but her wink at the judges was like a posi cool breeze in this summer of perennial devastation.

Cupped Tower

If you don’t know what cupping is, good. It’s gross and its health benefits are dubious. My former roommate used to do it and those cookie-sized red welts are forever burned into my dreams. Because Michael Phelps brought cupping to the forefront, though, everybody had that image in their minds already when a limber activist climbed Trump Tower in New York City on Wednesday using suction cups days. Timing like this is what the Internet was made for.



You’ve got to admit it: This whole wrestling gym looks like an outtake from Rushmore.

Proud Parents

People online had a lot to say about the awkward extent to which American gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents were pulling for her in the stands, and also British swimmer Alex Peaty’s adorable grandmother.

Censored Swimmers

A funny thing happens when swimmers wearing microscopic grape-smugglers stand directly in front of a news station’s chyron. It looks like they’re naked, and doing… something.

It’s especially meme-worthy when the subject’s name sounds like a porn pseudonym to begin with.


An Unlikely Juxtaposition

Nothing like the Olympics to remind us that deep inside each and every one of us beats the heart of a 12-year-old child.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.