CHICAGO - Before Michael Phelps could finally return home to Baltimore, the Olympian needed to visit a fan in Chicago.
Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Phelps was the guest of the hour yesterday as Winfrey played host to 176 Olympians at Millennium Park during a special welcome-back taping in front of thousands of fans.
The winner of eight gold medals in Beijing was asked about everything from his love life - to which he replied, "My private life is something I want to keep a little private" - to his bulldog, whom Phelps said he missed terribly while competing at the Games.
Phelps has not slowed down since the Olympics, making appearances and filming commercials.
"I need to get back home," Phelps said with a smile.
Phelps appeared on a stage with fellow swim team members and other U.S. Olympians, including Kobe Bryant and the men's basketball team, swimmer Dara Torres and beach volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. The contingent marched into the open-air stadium and through the crowd to the Olympic theme song as red, white and blue confetti swirled.
While Winfrey said she was excited to meet Phelps, she said she was thrilled to meet his mother, who sat in the front row.
Phelps said he has not yet watched tapes of all his races and that he usually reviews them to "pick up on anything." Winfrey was quick to point out that Phelps doesn't need many pointers these days.
Hundreds of fans lined up as early as 2 a.m. to get tickets for the 10 a.m. taping of the show, which also served to promote Chicago as a host city for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago is competing with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.
Yesterday's show will air Monday to mark the start of Winfrey's 23rd season.