2016 Olympians Winning the Follower Count Gold


It’s true that no two Olympic Games are alike, and that’s why we love them. Factors such as climate, team dynamics, gear advancements, Olympic Village hangovers, and the dreaded off day all boost chances for a cluster of serious, unpredictable athletic insanity.

From the Genius Idea department, one of our favorite oddball Twitter accounts, @Aoiph, even suggested having a normal person compete in each event just to remind us how bananas Olympians actually are. But there are two major, less-obvious ways the 2016 Games differ:

1. A seriously stifled social media conversation: Major brands are barred from posting on social about the Games using certain hashtags and certain words (Future Olympian? Can’t say it, according to the Olympic organizers themselves.) Sorry, but aren’t the Olympics all about free competition for all? Not you, Russia.

2. A seriously active social media conversation: In 2012, some of the competitors didn’t even have Instagram accounts. Now, those feeds are some of the best sources of up-to-the-moment information, and they’re gaining followers at breakneck speed. Out of curiosity, we took a look at Olympians’ feeds last night compared with this morning, and there’s quite a difference.

Here, the five athletes who, while we were all sleeping, still gained more followers on Instagram than any others on the team.

(Take a look at the follower counts—next to each, we listed the percentage each one grew overnight. Gold medals for everyone.)

#sports #rio

A photo posted by Katie Ledecky (@kledecky) on


Last night, Katie scored the first swimming gold medal for the U.S. in the 400m freestyle event. And, she broke her own world record. Monday blues, of the swimming pool cerulean variety, just took on a whole new meaning. 

Event: Freestyle swimming

Followers: 73,193 (+21.1%)

A photo posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on


Simone was too young to quality for the 2012 games, but she made up for it last night, as she finished first in the qualifying event. Simone’s supertight vault earned her a standing O.


Event: All-around gymnastics

Followers: 797,634 (+10.1%)


LOL at the athletes not participating in SM discourse: Last Friday, Laurie set the story straight on injury rumors by tweeting. While she isn’t competing in the all-around event, she did play a major part in the team advancing to the No. 1 spot.


Event: All-around gymnastics

Followers: 325,359 (+9.2%)


Madison is truly on another level. Her first-place qualifying routine for the uneven bars is 41 seconds of “How?”


Event: All-around gymnastics

Followers: 196,782 (+9.3%)

A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on


The most decorated Olympian of all time, with 23 medals, continues to raise his profile on Instagram, too, by doing things like scoring his 19th Olympic gold medal. Which he did last night, as the U.S. took first place in the 4×100 relay. So much for a Phelps retirement.


Event: Butterfly and freestyle swimming

Followers: 1,191,246 (+6.4%)


Limited-edition Oakley sunglasses, developed specifically for Team USA.