Olympians can show their patriotism in many ways. They can win at their sport. They can take home a medal. And they can also get a manicure.
Fans not only cheered on Stanford University’s Katie Ledecky for her swimming miracles this week, but some were also in awe of her nails. Ledecky clapped her gleaming red-and-blue nail polish to her smiling face after she won her second gold medal Tuesday night, a sight that made many question aloud: How did she keep her nails from chipping? Jamberry nail wraps, maybe? Stickers? Shellac?
“How do these swimmers keep nail polish on?" Liz Davis tweeted. "If I put one toe in a pool, my nail polish crumbles like a Nature Valley granola bar. #Olympics.” Others, however, slammed anyone who would ask this question of such an elite athlete calling the question sexist and beside the point.
But it’s not just athletes who are sporting hot manis.
UC Berkeley graduate and swimmer Nathan Adrian was extremely grateful to a Amanda Frias, 28, of Los Angeles, who painted her nails red, white and blue with his name in all capital letters. “This is about as original as it gets,” Adrian put on Instagram on Wednesday, hours before he is set to swim in the men’s 100m freestyle.
Frias was thrilled.
In a phone interview, she said that she figured she hadn't done her nails in a while and thought, "What the heck? I'll do my nails and tag him." She never thought someone as famous as Adrian would notice. She was wrong. He reposted her photo, and as of late Wednesday morning, her nails on his page had more than 14,000 likes. "I did not expect that," Frias said. "I can't get that smile off my face.'
With everything in the Olympics, though, issues, even ones about nail polish, can dredge up a bit of controversy.
In 2014, the Swedish Olympic Committee told athletes they shouldn’t paint their nails in rainbow colors or face disqualification for supporting gay rights ahead of the Olympics in Sochi.
This year, one of the biggest controversies actually came from Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, booed loudly in the pool for her past doping suspensions.
But even though some have dubbed Efimova the “Olympic villain,” sports watchers like Michele Cunningham still were admiring the Russian’s hot pink and orange fingertips.
She may “be a cheater,” Cunningham tweeted, “but her nail polish game is on point.”