Former MSNBC and ESPN host Keith Olbermann got into a war of words with Riley Gaines Thursday, saying the two-time All-SEC first-teamer “sucked at swimming.”
Cooler heads prevailed, but Olbermann took one last jab at the former college swimmer when the New York Post shared the story of their social media spat.
In the final barb, Olbermann called Gaines a “homophobe” for her fight to keep transgender women out of female sports.
The feud began when Olbermann replied to one of Gaines’ X posts in which he said Gaines should “address the reality” that she “sucked at swimming,” and “that’s why [she] lost” to Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer who was crowned a Division I champion in 2022.
“Ah, makes sense now why you got fired from ESPN,” Gaines shot back.
One of Thomas’ former teammates at Penn, Paula Scanlan, came to Gaines’ defense.
“Your political bias blinds you and dismissive views like yours embolden men to change in front of us,” Scanlan said. “Why don’t you address the reality that women’s spaces are being invaded and many women are harmed by this narrative.””Second team all-conference. Happily for nasty, stupid, unsuccessful transphobe @Riley_Gaines she has no reputation to ruin,” he posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Gaines was a second-team swimmer in 2019 and 2020 before earning first-team honors her final two years at the University of Kentucky.
Gaines’ collegiate resume speaks for itself, but she felt the need to remind Olbermann of her swimming accomplishments anyway.
In a video responding to Olbermann’s post, she recorded herself showing off her trophies for several of her accolades, including All-SEC first-team, three SEC titles, a second-place finish nationally, an SEC community service award, an SEC female scholar-athlete of the year and others. She also qualified for the U.S. trials for the Tokyo Olympics.
Scanlan argued in an op-ed for The Telegraph that the #MeToo movement “was absorbed, as so sadly has been the case with many other women’s organizations in the U.S., into the Democratic Party.”
Scanlan wrote she was forced to “relive” the “trauma of [her] sexual assault by undressing in front of” Thomas, but sexual assault by transgender women has seemingly been ignored by “women’s organizations.”