Keith Olbermann calls Riley Gaines ‘stupid’ and ‘unsuccessful’; ex-swimmer responds by showing off accolades

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.

Gaines hosts the “Gaines for Girls” podcast on OutKick, highlighting the issue.

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann arrives to the “Late Show with David Letterman” at Ed Sullivan Theater Sept. 11, 2013, in New York City.  (Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)

“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.

Olbermann in 2013

TV personality Keith Olbermann speaks onstage during the Olbermann panel at the ESPN portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel July 24, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


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.”

Riley Gaines

Riley Gaines speaks before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a presidential candidate, at the Greenville Convention Center June 2, 2023. (McKenzie Lange/Staff/USA Today Network)

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.”

Fox News’ Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.

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