BEIJING – After nearly 1,000 medals were handed out here, someone needed to provide a Cliffs Notes version on the real winners (and losers) of the 2008 Summer Olympics. We're here to oblige, and yes, readers from around the world, this is an American-centric list. Deal with it.
WINNER – Michael Phelps
With eight gold medals, seven world records, a possible $100 million in endorsements – and reports he's hanging out with Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice – Phelps has redefined Olympic success.
Perhaps most impressive, he made Americans care about swimming. His race was appointment television at night and coffee-shop talk in the morning. The likelihood the Baltimore native achieves the goal of making swimming "more than a once-every-four-year sport" remains a long shot, although who wants to bet against him now?
LOSER – NBC
Because I was in China, I didn't watch NBC's coverage. I can only say from the flood of angry emails it hasn't improved since the last time I was home for the games.Read More »from Beijing Olympics' winners and losers