An occasional look at the celebrities who come to Washington to talk up a favorite cause. Tuesday’s visitor: Michael Phelps.
Venue: National Press Club.
Cause: The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Credentials: Twenty-two Olympic medals.
Backup: Boys & Girls Club President Jim Clark; the CEOs of Wendy’s and Tupperware; pop star Ashanti. Oh, and a fellow named Denzel Washington.
What he wants: To get more kids through high school and living healthy lives; his particular interest is swimming lessons to reduce adolescent drownings.
How he looked: Not as polished as Ashanti (cream suit, towering updo), but who could? Like a law firm junior associate — dark suit, salmon tie, gold tie pin — except for the pirate facial scruff.
How he sounded: Not as commanding as Denzel, but who would? A little raw but earnest and sincere. (“If you put your mind to it, anything is possible.”) Spoke without notes.
Soundbite: Phelps did his best, but Washington, a veteran celebvocate for the Boys & Girls Clubs, stole the show with his give-back message. “You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse,” the Oscar winner said. “Whatever you’ve acquired in this life, you can’t take it with you. The Egyptians tried that. They got robbed.”
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