Rio 2016. You went by so fast — too fast.

After 16 days, the Olympics are finally over. The ratings weren’t great, the water (indoor and outdoor) was pretty dubious and Ryan Lochte did the most to ruin the perception of Americans overseas since Amanda Knox.

For this iteration, we’ll remember the spectacular performances of Biles, Bolt, Phelps, Ledecky and local olympian Ryan Murphy, but the rest is a blur and will gradually fade until Tokyo 2020. From a non-athletic standpoint, Rio 2016 will be mostly remembered for terrible preparation, shoddy conditions and poor television coverage.

That being said, there is one great thing we can take away — memes. When the sun morphs into a red giant and consumes us, or when the North Koreans invade à la that terrible remake of Red Dawn, or the second Ice Age renders Earth a useless tundra, what will we have to show for it? Memes are our legacy … memes are the way.


Twitter wasn’t like this in 2012. We all know the internet was capable of grabbing a photo/moment/concept to dominate the conversation of the Olympics, even from people who couldn’t care less. Like Pawn Stars or Arthur, you can transmogrify anything to fit a particular feeling. The Next Great American Novel will be written in emojis, textspeak and memes.

This isn’t the first Olympics with memes — remember McKayla Maroney’s face or the ring that wouldn’t light up in Sochi? No you don’t. Memes are ethereal … just ask Philosoraptor, Psy or John Cena. So, here’s the best memes from Rio 2016 we all forget.


Usain Bolt winning the 100m dash was more certain than economic inequality. Oh, the thrill of an uneasy victory. It’s like the final half a second of every Bolt he snaps back to reality a makes some sort of quizzical reaction.


Before the most-medaled Olympian of all-time took to the pool in the 200m butterfly semifinals, he was spotted looking very determined with a thousand-yard stare. This is gothic eighth-grade-eyeliner-level angst. It’s like he was planning the murder of all those people who criticized him for smoking weed eight years ago.

Bolt/De Grasse

As far as memes go, Bolt struck twice (someone should hurl a phonebook at me for that line). Canada’s Andre De Grasse actually came pretty close to unseating Bolt in the 200m. De Grasse’s expression is one of acknowledgement. It’s also etched on Bolt’s face: “You knew you weren’t going to win right?”

Chad le Clos

South African Chad le Clos had a decent Olympics (two silver medals). But you mess with Phelps and you’re persona non grata. You shouldn’t be too mean to him though, both his parents are battling with cancer, and you know what they say about karma.

Jeffrey Julmis

Julmis ate the track on his first hurdle in the 110m hurdles semifinals. You train four years to do one thing and you don’t do that one thing. He finished the race with grace, at least. I watched this clip several times and it seems his feet never really left the ground. Agonizing.

The Finger Wag

It’s known that the Russian Olympic Federation promotes doping, and Lilly King wasn’t having any of it. This wasn’t a Cold-War-exclusive feud though, she said everyone who doped should be banned from competing, even fellow Americans. King twice called out her Russian rival Yulia Efimova. You can only imagine the catharsis of calling out someone who cheats after you beat them. It must feel like screaming from a mountaintop.

Belly Flops

Similar to Julmis just on a wider scale. These athletes (professionals) intensely choreograph dives thousands of times and the final result is the same as the annoying guy at the pool party that nobody knows.



The gas station debacle was a meme in itself. He assumed we’d believe him because he’d changed. He Teo’d us. The pre-Olympics newscycle was the summer of “Lochte’s Mature” Imagine all writers clasping for a narrative: “HE’S 32 NOW. HE’S DIFFERENT.” Lochte may have escaped Brazil with his medals and money (not his sponsors though) but most of us can agree that his reputation and swimming career evaporated in Rio.