Maryland, heck yeah! That's what it felt like listening to the crowd shout "O!" while the National Anthem played for Michael Phelps.
The Towson native was accepting his 20th Olympic gold medal Tuesday for reclaiming the top spot in the 200-meter butterfly, his signature event. But he couldn't keep a straight face on the podium.
Later in the night, after reeling in yet another gold medal (his 21st) for the 4x200 relay, Phelps was asked what was so funny up there.
"My boys from Baltimore were down at the other end, and back in Maryland, we all say 'O!' for the Orioles during that part of the National Anthem," he told NBC's Michele Tafoya. "And all of a sudden I hear them roar 'O!' and I knew exactly where it came from and I just lost it. Because those guys came down from Baltimore and New York City to be here and it's just special to see those guys in the stands."
Specifically, the bellowing comes at the start of the seventh stanza: "Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave ..."
While many Baltimoreans associate the anthem "O!" with the Orioles, that's not its only use. As DC Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg points out, it's a tradition commonly heard at almost all major sporting events in Baltimore and Washington, DC. Redskins, Ravens, Wizards, Capitals ... you get the idea.
There's also the famous "o" sound of a Maryland accent, typically pronounced more like "ao" or "ew." Let's go to AO-SHUN City this weekend, hon.
Marylander Scott Van Pelt has mastered the accent.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on whom you ask), Phelps does not seem to have inherited the phonetic quirk. But he's certainly got Maryland's Olympic chops.
The state of 5.97 million has 38 representatives in the Rio Olympics, including teenage phenom Katie Ledecky and five other swimmers. USA Basketball's Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony also hail from Maryland.
Collectively, Marylanders have won five gold medals and three silver medals in the first four days of competition. Crabcakes, football and AO-lympics, that's what Maryland does.