To swimming fans, Erica Sullivan is a very familiar name, as Sullivan has been on the scene since the 2016 Olympic Trials meet where she placed 12th overall in the 800 freestyle.
However, since winning an Olympic silver medal in the 1500 freestyle in Tokyo, Sullivan has quickly become a household name for more than just her swimming, becoming the first openly gay US swimmer to win an Olympic medal. Her feat has become a pinnacle of the Olympics within the media, including feature articles in the Washington Post, The New York Times, and other prominent media outlets.
Her presence even grabbed the attention of BuzzFeed and Tumblr, with BuzzFeed calling her the “new lesbian supreme.”
Sullivan first grabbed public attention during her post-race interview, where she spoke with the media in fluent-Japanese, her mother’s native language. She then proclaimed herself the “epitome of the American person,” explaining to reporters, “I’m multicultural. I’m queer. I’m a lot of minorities. That’s what America is. To me, America is not about being a majority. It’s about having your own start. The American Dream is coming to a country to establish what you want to do with your life.”
That response, in particular, earned praise from the LGBTQ+ community, with her Instagram and Twitter accounts blowing up. Although Sullivan’s Twitter fanatics have long been known within the swimming community (including many features on the TopTen Tweets), people also began to pick up on her quirky sense of humor, getting people to refer to her as “the queen of stan Twitter.”
“Stan Twitter” specifically, is a side of Twitter where fans post content relating to their favorite celebrities, shows, or movies. Sullivan has been noted for her frequent references to the show “The Wilds”, along with several other celebrities.
Recently, Sullivan has also grabbed the attention of global celebrities as well, gaining followers such as Camilla Cabello, Sarah Streicher, and Jill Gutowitz.
Sullivan says that she’s extremely grateful for all of the support she’s received over the past week. “It’s amazing, the coolest people follow me on insta now,” Sullivan explained, “Camila (Cabello), the whole wilds cast, Katie Couric, Shannon Beveridge (YouTube). It’s been insane. I literally now have fans for being other people’s fan. And it’s strange that it suddenly happened bc I’ve always had top tier tweets if I do say so myself but like no one would read them. And now I’m getting praised for it. It’s insane but I’m so so so so eternally grateful.”