Westboro Baptist Church founder (and generally-despised human being) Fred Phelps died yesterday, and Twitter users started mourning the death of Olympic swimming champion and generally beloved human being Michael Phelps.
The hilarious confusion appears to have started when #RIPMichaelPhelps somehow became a trending topic on Twitter, which is even more hilarious since we just celebrated Twitter’s eighth birthday. That set off a storm of Tweets from people who were either in on the joke and had no problems rehashing the meme to amuse their followers or honestly thought that Michael Phelps had died or somehow Michael and Fred Phelps were the same person.
dang fred phelps died? guess he wont be getting any more gold medals now
— Pokeytar (@pokeypummel17) March 21, 2014
rip fred phelps, you deserved all those gold medals even though you were caught smoking weed
— jesse (@JesseRobertLane) March 21, 2014
Why is everyone mad at Fred Phelps? Didn’t he win like 10 gold medals at the olympics?
— AQUAB0Y (@MatthewBruce) March 21, 2014
It seemed that the longer the conversation lasted, the more the confusion grew as evidenced by this response to the last Tweet asking why everyone was so mad at this Fred Phelps character.
@MatthewBruce guys, fred durst is still alive idk what the news is talking about
— ｃｈｉｐｔｕｎｅ ｉｓ ｄｅａｄ (@weebtrash) March 21, 2014
This might seem a bit ridiculous to the moderately informed but there is a slim chance for confusion if you dig a little deeper into the story. For instance, Fred is actually Michael Phelps’ middle name, and if you were one of the few who didn’t know that the two were two different people, you might actually stumble across the coincidence and make the same mistake that so many others seem to have made. Most people, however, can easily make the distinction. That’s even if they don’t read the newspapers or watch ESPN, because no one ever wanted to see Fred Phelps not wearing a shirt.