Discovery issues statement on Michael Phelps vs CGI shark backlash and disappointment

Michael Phelps versus a shark

Part of the reason that Discovery’s Shark Week has become such a HUGE phenomenon is because it never disappoints — but that all changed this year after the much ballyhooed race between Michael Phelps and a great white shark turned out to be Michael Phelps vs. a CGI shark.

Here’s a video from the race:

I confess that I didn’t tune in for the show down, but I was well aware of the hype. Although I seriously doubted Phelps would be racing an actual shark, I knew this was the premiere kick off event for one of the most lucrative events in cable television, so perhaps they threw some serious money at the problem and figured out a way to do it? Either way, I don’t feel like it was explicitly clear that it would just be Michael Phelps swimming in the ocean with a completely fake simulated shark beside him. Heck, I would have enjoyed it more if they took one of his world record Olympic races and just CGIed a great white in the lane next to his!

Oh wait, they did that!?

Discovery has since issued a statement about the backlash and disappointment being expressed (often in quite hilarious and sarcastic ways) online:

In Phelps vs Shark we enlisted world-class scientists to take up the challenge of making the world’s greatest swimmer competitive with a Great White. The show took smart science and technology to make the challenge more accessible and fun. All the promotion, interviews and the program itself made clear that the challenge wasn’t a side by side race. During Michael’s pre-show promotion, as well as within the first two minutes of Phelps vs Shark, this message was clear and we are thrilled with the audience and the engagement around the world.

Hmmmmm… It seems they have zero regrets. I figured there would at least be something like: “Our apologies to those who misunderstood the event and were disappointed. The last thing we want to do is disappoint our fantastic Shark Week fans…”

Michael Phelps racing a great white shark

Let’s just hope that Discovery realizes the only thing Shark Week fans want to see with lame shark CGI effects is Sharknado 12! Of course, this good turn into a huge boon for Shark Week if “Racing the Shark” replaces “Jumping the Shark” in the vernacular. I still think of Happy Days all the time thanks to that phrase.

For those of you still feeling cheated by the Phelps vs. Shark show, The Washington Post has done you the favor of compiling a video that includes four instances in which REAL people competed against REAL animals, including NFL receiver Devin Hester racing a cheetah and gymnast Marshall Erwin had some sort of uneven bars showdown with an orangutan:

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