Fred Phelps or Michael Phelps? Some on Twitter Mourn Wrong Phelps

Image: Fred Phelps or Michael Phelps? Some on Twitter Mourn Wrong Phelps Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, left, and Swimmer Michael Phelps.

Friday, 21 Mar 2014 05:16 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps died Wednesday at 84, but some on Twitter mourned the death of swimmer Michael Phelps, the most prolific Olympian in history.

Fred Phelps founded the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church in 1955, which later became known for inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric and famously picketed the 1998 funeral of teenager Matthew Shepherd, who was murdered because he was gay. In 2011, the church had about 100 members, and most were part of Phelps' family.

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Michael Phelps, 28, isn't at all related. The U.S. swimmer has won a total of 22 Olympic medals. He retired from swimming after the London Olympics, but rumors are swirling he may be back for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

At least New York Yankees pitcher David Phelps was spared from the confusion.

Though more understandable, a similar confusion happened in the days following the April 7, 2012, death of longtime "60 Minutes" journalist Mike Wallace. Pittsburgh Steelers fans mistook that Wallace for their wide receiver, who shares the same first and last name.

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