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Phelps is clicking with fans in digital world

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Associated Press / August 15, 2008
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Michael Phelps is dominating digital interest in the Olympics as much as he is the gold medal count.

More than 2 million people have clicked on NBCOlympics.com to watch a video replay of the thrilling men's 4 x 100-meter swimming relay, where the Americans scored a come-from-behind victory over the French. Phelps won gold for his role in the relay, although it was teammate Jason Lezak's surge at the end that was the indelible image.

That race alone accounts for more than 40 percent of the nearly 5 million video on demand orders from the website, NBC Universal said yesterday.

Three of the next four most-ordered clips were also Phelps gold medal races, with his 400-meter victory called up 492,000 times.

Website users have also called up Phelps's profile 3.7 million times, far and away the most of any other athlete.

American gymnasts Alicia Sacramone and Shawn Johnson were next, each with 1.4 million views, NBC said, followed by Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice and American fencer Mariel Zagunis.

And chalk up another remarkable feat for Phelps: somehow making swimming trading cards popular.

An autographed 2004 card of the record-shattering Olympian was trading for as much as $500 yesterday, just two weeks after industry experts say the collectible could be easily had for $25.

The market value could rise to $750 to $1,000 if Phelps breaks Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics this weekend, said Tracy Hackler, an associate publisher with Beckett Media LLP, a Dallas-based memorabilia company.

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