Michael Phelps looking at charges for bong photo

February 4th, 2009 // 150 Comments

After a photo of him smoking a bong was published in News of the World, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has since apologized for his actions at a November party at University of South Carolina. He’s also sparked a nationwide debate on the legality of marijuana except in Columbia, S.C. where Sheriff Leon Lott Jr. is looking to make a bust for them fancy newspaper pages. People reports:

“If someone breaks the law in Richland County, we have an obligation as law enforcement to investigate and to bring charges,” the statement said. “The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is making an effort to determine if Mr. Phelps broke the law. If he did, he will be charged in the same manner as anyone else. The Sheriff has a responsibility to be fair, to enforce the law and to not turn a blind eye because someone is a celebrity.”

Not that I’m suggesting a celebrity deserves special treatment, but it’s also a responsibility of the Sheriff to prosecute murderers, rapists, pedophiles and domestic abusers. But apparently Richland County has none of those. Who knew?

Photos: Getty

  1. One of Yahoo’s Avatar’s is brought to life with Beema technology to humorously pontificate on this very subject. To see the video go here, http://beema.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/beemanews-3feb09/.

  2. i am now totally convinced smoking weed is evil since it limited Phelps to winning only 8 gold medals in last year’s Olympics

  3. Jaffo

    On a related and somewhat anonymous note, I attended a class last fall where a 15-year DEA agent spoke. He made it very clear that ‘off the record’ marijuana is no longer a priority for them as far as expenditure of real resources and that they actually are pretty sure the stuff will be looking at a schedule change within the next five years, so all you smokers get yer bongs ready for a mighty big 420 party in the not-too-distant future…

  4. beep beep

    #33 needs to STFU and DIAF.

  5. Change

    Has anyone considered him for a cabinet position in the Most Ethical Administration since Castro? If he’s a law-breaker he sounds like a perfect fit…

  6. Chester Cheetah

    pot is very dangerous, people! every time someone gets stoned, my chee-tos are in serious danger of being eaten!

    gasp! you might even have the sudden urge to… PLAY VIDEO GAMES!!! AAAAARRRGG!!! DANGER!!!!

    or maybe…



  7. grimace

    #33 How do you suppose that smoking pot is on par with committing a murder? I think you need to take your medication…the whole bottle.

  8. He's a crook

    “Weed” is illegal, fags. Whatever you wanna think or wish is fantasy. The guy committed a crime and should be punished. In a fair and reasonable manner. He is no longer a role model, not that some genetic freak swimmer is anybody anyway. Fuck look at the likes of Brock Lesnar. There is a real athlete! How about the Klitschko brothers? Vitali is the baddest ass heavyweight boxer in all history and would knock out that little dwarf Mike Tyson or li’l Ali as well. Why aren’t these guys with higher educations being touted as role models? Are they too intelligent? Too decent? Too WHITE? I would imagine that would be it. They aren’t cool enough for “the system”.

    Phelps is mildly retarded looking anyway and it’;s good that he is um related well otherwise he would be completely forgotten by now. As well he should be.

    Don’t worry idiots, I am sure some of his relatives are lawyers and he will get off scott free.

  9. Dar

    I love this news! Hopefully this means they’ll be yanking that Michael Phelps “Rosetta Stone” commercial and just keep running the other RS commercial starring the woman with the spectacular rack! Thank you, God!

    I really don’t give a crap about people smoking marijuana, but the fact is it’s illegal and when you have thousands–if not millions–of dollars in endorsement deals coming your way, you’re a moron for taking such stupid chances like this. Remember the “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” idiot who did the same thing and torpedoed his own career? Some people just never learn.

  10. Pussy Galore

    This whole thing is ridiculous.

    To the guy who took the picture and sold it. I’d like to split his nuts from the head to the back of his ass. Put that in a pipe and smoke it.

    Big bunch of BS.

  11. Jeff

    Hey @58, do you really think Brock Lesnar has never used steroids? Steroids are a felony controlled substance, weed is a petty misdemeanor. And what makes you think he or the klitschko brothers have ‘higher education’? I really wish people like you did not live in this country, i could have a little more pride.

  12. truth

    @55, Grandpappy McCain and Brainless MILF Palin lost in a landslide. Get over it and wait your turn like a good little shit-for-brains vote-against-your-own-self-interest republican twit. The bushies have only been out of office for a few weeks and already you’re whining. I understand that your pussy hurts, but you should keep that to yourself.

    Thanks! :)

  13. Mike

    He forgot the first rule of liberalism: Deny

    He forgot the second rule of liberalism: Deny

    He forgot the third rule of liberalism: Deny

    This guy is clearly a conservative.

  14. Quadling

    OOOH! Sheriff a big man…going after them scary 20-something stoners!

  15. Fairy

    How’s the sheriff gonna arrest him unless he’s in S.C.? I mean, is he really gonna make the taxpayers pay the bill to extradite Phelps to SC in these economically-challenged times? What a flaming asshole. Issue the bench warrant and Phelps….stay the fuck away from SC. There. Problem solved.

  16. Vince Lombardi

    As a retired cop, I can tell you the sheriff has nothing on Phelps for possession of marijuana, because he has no evidence. He cannot prove the content of the bong was marijuana. Phelps can even tell him he got completely baked, but the sheriff cannot prove possession because there’s no way to tell from the photo that there’s any marijuana present, and there’s no way to test what was in the pipe. And it is ONLY by testing the marijuana in a criminalistics lab that you can remove reasonable doubt that it wasn’t alfalfa.

    On the other hand, possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime in many states, so just this photo alone, along with the manner in which it is used, COULD be enough to bring a charge. But again, the sheriff will have to show that this wasn’t photoshopped, etc. I’m not sure what it costs nowadays to authenticate a photo, but I’m guessing that the “return on investment” for the manpower and resources, versus what the penalty is for the crime makes it cost-prohibitive.

    The “confession” means nothing without evidence that a crime was actually committed. Really, to prove this crime, the sheriff would need to have the bong in custody and lift Phelps’ fingerprints from it. That, and the photo, AND the “confession” MIGHT get the DA to consider a charge.

    My guess? The Sheriff was asked a question about what he was going to do and he made an off-the-cuff statement which someone in the media took as meaning he would pursue this as a criminal act. That’s the liberal media for you. Anything to sell a story. “Sheriff to Prosecute Olympic Hero” makes huge headlines (no pun intended).

  17. Pussy Galore

    #66 very good point.
    I couldn’t even tell that it was actually Phelps in the photo. He should have denied it.

  18. IDIOTS

    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with smoking weed unless your an overweight pissed off housewife that has nothing better to do than to bust her husbands nuts for coming home smelling like the local dank.

    If you have never smoked weed before, THAN STFU. You have no idea what the hell your even talking about. Weed doesnt make you go on a massive Charles Manson murdering spree, it doesnt make you shit your pants, it doesnt make you fail school. Look at Michael Phelps. He is a badass and he hit that shit. ALRIGHT! Its about damn time…


  19. IDIOTS

    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with smoking weed unless your an overweight pissed off housewife that has nothing better to do than to bust her husbands nuts for coming home smelling like the local dank.

    If you have never smoked weed before, THAN STFU. You have no idea what the hell your even talking about. Weed doesnt make you go on a massive Charles Manson murdering spree, it doesnt make you shit your pants, it doesnt make you fail school. Look at Michael Phelps. He is a badass and he hit that shit. ALRIGHT! Its about damn time…


  20. philip j. snowman

    i’m with everyone who says no charges will be brought/successfully prosecuted over a picture and a weak-ass admission, given to the world for publicity and not to a police officer for purposes of confession. if the prosecution’s case is based on a photograph, an apology in a newspaper, and a few wasted college students’ testimony long after the fact, with none of the actual marijuana, no police witnessses, no statements given at the time of the actual marijuana use, and no blood tests taken at or near the time of the use to prove the presence of thc, the county is wasting its time. and to those people who say “he’ll get a slap on the wrist if prosecuted,” yeah, he will. because that’s what anyone would get for possession/use of marijuana, even if they weren’t a fucking gold medalist. it’s a minor crime.

  21. Jaffo

    @58–’fags’?! Seriously?! Am I the only one who can picture this D-Bag rocking out to Rage Against the Machine at the gym while wearing a mesh shirt and high-fiving his former high school wrestling coach as they enter the showers together?

  22. Jaffo

    One more thing @58, you seem to know as little about boxing as you do most everything else. The Klitschkos?! Are you fucking kidding me? They are the biggest JOKES of the heavyweight division and real fans know this. Yeah, Dr. Snoozeglove would almost stand a chance against a REAL CHAMPION. STFU and go back to slamming ass with your ‘bros’ you repressed assclown. And while you are at it, back slowly away from the Brock Lesnar poster and put the baby oil down…

  23. Jrz

    58 called us fags.

  24. Jrz

    58 called us fags.
    *takes monster pull from bong……laughs ass off after exhaling*

  25. OC Dee

    Michael Phelps has proved that one can be a casual pot smoker and still be an incredible athlete. Too bad he was not in California when he took the bong hit because the marijuana law in California is very lenient when it comes to casual users. He is an awesome athlete and I think they should leave him alone because marijuana should be legalized.

  26. Murf

    OK, lets skip whether pot is legal or not….even in SC. A picture is not evidence. A simple confession is not evidence – it is the equivalent of hearsay (eg. I stole the Lindburgh baby!!). Even a confession with a picture is not evidence. There must be a tangible piece of CORROBORATING evidence to prosecute. So unless the retarded SC sheriff has a time machine and can collect the bong at the scene there is NO PROSECUTION.

  27. jaime

    it’s just a picture of him with a blue long thing! the sheriff has no real proof that he was actually doing that. a picture isn’t enough. and even if phelps said he’d done it he can still take it back seeing as it wasn’t “on the record” for trial…

  28. Deacon Jones

    Hahaha, you fucking dork. You’re a republican, aren’t cha???

    Lesnar has acne scars all over his back you dope. My gym is crawling with juicers, they all got the same shit.

  29. Ali Knievel

    So, Bufford T. Justice Lives!

    Stupid hick sheriff. This would be like the chief of the Venice Beach Police Dept. going after Arnold Schwartzenegger for smoking that fat ass joint at the end of “Pumping Iron”.

    I’m a weed smoker and I can honestly say too much of it isn’t that great a thing because it robs you of your ambition but doing a bong hit with friends at a party isn’t the end of the world.

    I do have a creeping suspicion that Obama will legalize it in the next 4-8 years because it IS an amazing cash crop industry just waiting to be capitalized on. That’s change I can believe in. He seems to want to be this 21st century president that does away with all the dated taboos of the last century and since he spent his first two years of college getting baked out of his skull with his friends on some no name California almost-as-bad- as-community college he obviously isn’t some drug crusader with a stick up his ass.

  30. pat

    “…too much of it isn’t that great a thing because it robs you of your ambition ”

    Ah, so Mike Phelps was robbed of his ambition. That’s why he only won 8 gold medals at the Olympics. Had he not been a pot smoker, he might have got 15 or 20 medals. Lazy stoner slacker, that’s Mike.

    I would advise kids, “Don’t smoke pot! It’ll make you ugly like Michael Phelps!”

  31. pat

    actually, in fairness to Ali Knievel, I know he wasn’t implying that Mike used “too much” pot.

  32. snake

    He didn’t actually admit to smoking marijuana. Take a close look at his apology: regrettable behavior and bad judgment.

    I think it was a lawyer crafted statement that purposely doesn’t mention what was in the pipe.

  33. InternetToughGuy

    Ignorant Sheriff. For one, law enforcement has a huge amount of discretion on whether they bring charges or not. It’s not an “obligation” as this dumb ass backwoods sheriff, liberty hating, scum bag sheriff. The stupid fuck also has no physical evidence and wouldn’t even have enough to bring a trial, dumbass. He just wants his name in the paper. The exact kind of a piece of shit that should not have any power.

    Remember, no formal education or law enforcement experience is needed to be elected sheriff and you can see that clear as day here.

  34. Ted Kennedy's Tumor

    #8, you are right. The Obama cabinet is filled with tax cheats. Yep. Change you can believe in….LOL

    My brother was the biggest stoner in the world and almost killed us while driving. Pot is illegal. Keep it that way.

  35. Weezie

    I don’t even smoke & I think it ought to be legalized. Alchol kills more people.

  36. Deacon Jones

    What happened Ted?

    Did it take FOREVVVVER MANNN to get to Taco Bell?

  37. ishi-san

    @ 12: first of all: A CRIME!!!!!!?????? oh my god, you stupid ignorant media-biased idiot!

    I totally agree that marijuana should be legal! It doesn’t make you addicted, it is not dangerous unless you are crazy already anyway (so not the fault of the weed) and it safes the government a lot of time and money to hunt for small fish that just smoke a joint once in a while…..
    Take the example of the Netherlands – we are doing just great with our coffee shops! Kids are not even thrilled by smoking anymore because its legal anyway…

  38. bigshotbob

    the only reason they even mentioned the potential for legal action is because he’s supposed to be a role-model for young people everywhere. his success in the olympics combined with the fact that he used marijuana would make it seem that using pot is ok (“lol michael phelps uses it & he wins teh 8 gold medals!!!!1″).

    fyi: the war on drugs is the longest war america has been involved in, and it’s one that can’t ever be won. legalize marijuana, then tax it to raise revenue and fix america for fuck’s sake. jesus h. christ, even i have more sense than some of the dumbasses mired in the 1950′s-way-of-thinking that have been elected to congress.

  39. ishi-san

    and to all those people saying that it is ‘A DANGEROUS DRUG’ and comparable to ‘MURDER’ – get out of your villages, get into the world, open your eyes and create your OWN opinion, one that is not given to you by the numbing-down manipulating media!


  40. mindy

    Comming back to the scene of a crime to give charges? its a picture…..Pretty sure you can’t do that…go figure a cops says there fore he thinks he can do.

    oh and one county made 11 MILLION off taxin’ bud…think about if the whole U.S.A followed suit we’d be outa this debt hole that we keep on digging ourselves in.

  41. #90

    You make a great point. Mendocino, CA made 11 million off of tax revenues from the sale of medical pot. It is legal to own 6 plants in Mendocino for personal use. I saw an interesting show on CNBC about the pot industry.

  42. dew

    I’ve been to Middle Eastern restaurants where some guys smoked some kind of tobacco, not marijuana, out of a water pipe. It had a few different tubings coming from the main base, so a few people could smoke at the same time.

    So yes, water pipes are used to smoke REGULAR tobacco. But Phelps has already apologized? Did his apology include admitting he smoked pot in that bong? Well, most wouldn’t apologize for smoking regular tobacco out of a water pipe, so apologizing might be what prevents his attorney from getting him off.

    Find out who sold the photos? A fellow partyer, or a supposed friend?

  43. Jail the Tard

    First off regarding the Klistschko brothers: they are both heavyweight champions and both have PHDs in sports medicine. Now I realize that these are not degrees in the same regard as say chemistry, physics, etc. but are nonetheless and indice of higher learnging, yes? And you say they are jokes? Vitali came off a massive layoff and beat the #1 contender who is a big strong dude. These guys are intellectuals and chess players and of course in a rancid Nascar loving’ Hoops watchin’ NFL thug laden society like ours we just aint interested. Heck if Tyson and Holyfield fought again that would be all you would here. And both are certainly men of very low intelligence and questionalbe ethics. Holyfield so for having 13 fucking children! Idiot!

    Lesnar did not use steroids you lying queer and has no acne scars on his back. I mentioned him because he is probably the most awesome physical speciman that DOES NOT USE STEROIDS that I have ever seen I don’t like the guy at all and think he is a redneck asshole.

    Phelps is hideous and looks inbred but yeah he is an amazing swimmer but I do not hold that or say Tiger Woods in the same category of athlete as I would say a gymnast or strongman or boxer, sorry.

    Phelps is also strangely unintelligent for someone Jewish. They are normally bright people if nothing else.
    What the guy did was illegal whether or not any of us want to believe it. I have no problem with Mary J and am in accord with the stuff you guys all say.
    I like to drink and don’t feel that being slightly over the pathetic limit should carry the same outrageous penalty as say being fucking tanked to the gills but I DON”T Make the LAWS. He committed a crime and should suffer the same consequence as anyone else. We can no longer shield the wealthy from the same fate as the poor.

    You liberals and conservative characters are amusingly simple. Please help the world out and just die off. Please???

  44. Raoul Duke's 357

    To all the “IT’S-ILLEGAL-THEREFORE-WE-MUST-PROSECUTE” people out there: every had anal sex? sex outside of marriage? Both still technically illegal in much of the U.S., but how much sense does it make to run around trying to arrest people for that stuff when our jails are already crammed full as it is? Fact is, citizens and authorities alike ignore laws on the books all the time.
    And to the moron comparing legalizing marijuana with legalizing murder: For real? That’s the most retarded argument against legalization I’ve ever heard. The entire point of legalization is that the process of criminalizing users causes more harm to society than the “crime” itself does. This is obviously not the case with murder! Laws against murder = protection of right to life. Laws against drugs = violation of right to pursuit of hapiness.

  45. Hetero sapiens

    #94 sorry brother I can’t say I use drugs or put my penis in the hole where feces is excreted. What the fuck is wrong with you? Nor have I ever cheated on anyone in my life never mind the woman (lucky girl) that I married.

    Some of these arguements are very well thought out.

    Drugs are illegal. As in against the law. Don’t like the laws of the land? Move elsewhere it’s all good. Bye bye.

  46. Raoul Duke's 357

    Jesus Christ. My point was not to insinuate that people who believe drugs should be illegal are all sodomites and fornicators. My point was that these things (sodomy and fornication) are also still illegal but we routinely ignore these law as a society — so “it’s illegal end of story” argument doesn’t fly. Furthermore, if we don’t like the laws of the land, we have the perogetive to change them! That’s what democracy is. So if you’re tired of people pointing out how flawed the law is and how much they would like it changed, perhaps YOU should move to a country where laws are dictated from on high and the citizenry has no hope of changing it. I suggest North Korea.

  47. Phelps should move up here to Massachusetts.
    We decriminalized marijuana last Fall.

    Go for the Gold (Acapulco Gold, that is)!

  48. Your Dear Leader

    Actually the way the American economy is heading North Korea doesn’t sound as bad as all that. Thanks for the advice!!!

  49. haha

    cam u are so right!

  50. Deacon Jones


    You’re wasting your time. These are the same kind of people that flipped shit over Janet Jackson’s nipple on primetime. There’s no reasoning with them.

    I liked the “ever have anal sex?” opening argument, that was funny.

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