Mystery solved: Why Phelps burst into laughter atop the Olympic podium

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Michael Phelps had plenty to celebrate Tuesday night. He also had reason to laugh.

With tears in his eyes, Phelps stood silently as the Star-Spangled Banner played following his gold-medal finish in the 200-meter butterfly. Inexplicably, the U.S. Olympic icon broke out in a fit of laughter.

But nobody really knew what caught Phelps’ eye.

Michael Phelps laughs following the playing of the national anthem. (Getty)
Michael Phelps laughs following the playing of the national anthem. (Getty)

He cleared up the mystery in his post-race interview with NBC after taking yet another gold in the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay.

My boys from Baltimore were down on the other end, and back in Maryland, we all say “O!” for the Orioles during that part of the National Anthem. And all of the sudden I hear them roar “O!” and I knew exactly where I came from, and I just lost it because those guys came down from Baltimore and New York City to be here, and it’s just special to see those guys in the stands.

Clearly, hometown pride means a lot to Phelps, and he certainly has reason to smile these days. With three gold medals already under his belt in Rio and three events remaining, the 31-year-old looks like he’s well on his way to finishing his Olympic career on quite a high note.