These Girls Lived in the House Where Michael Phelps Was Caught with a Bong

Find out what it's like to be tenants of the most iconic house in South Carolina.

Michael Phelps killed the 2016 Olympics in Rio this year, taking home five gold medals and one silver medal. (If you lost count, that brings his total medal count to 28, with 23 being gold. What did you do with your August?) Phelps seems superhuman, but he is just like us, really. He takes selfies, he goes to movies and–oh yeah!–he smoked pot in his early 20s.

Need we remind you of the time in February 2009 when a 23-year-old Phelps was caught using a bong during a house party at the University of South Carolina? Phelps was unfairly crucified for this and lost his sponsorship with Kellogg’s as a result. Phelps is no Ryan Lochte, who made people think he was robbed in Rio when he was actually doing something sketchy. But he was certainly crucified like he was. It angers us just thinking about it. Practically every 23-year-old in America who might’ve hit a bong here and there. Don’t throw stones unless you want people to shine a light on what you did in college. Didn’t think so, Mr. Puked-in-the-Bushes-Every-Friday McGee.

It’s so ironic, given the current state of the #LochMess, that Phelps was once vilified for his youthful frivolity. Seems like we should’ve been celebrating one of the world’s greatest athletes just enjoying life. That’s exactly what we’re going to do here. And what better way to do that than by chatting with two women who lived in the house where Phelps played with Mary Jane? Annie Drowne and Julia Nicholson are University of South Carolina graduates who lived in the house for the 2013-2014 school year, four years after Phelps left his mark. Mr. Phelps’ essence permeated every party thrown that year. (As someone who knows Drowne and Nicholson personally and partied in that house, I can attest.) Oh! And it was a hell of a conversation starter if you were trying to hit on someone. Allow the ladies to explain in their own words.

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Left to right: Julia Nicholson, Annie Drowne

Did you know the house was Phelps’ infamous party pad before agreeing to live in it?
Annie Drowne: We actually had no idea before signing the lease! One of my roommates had heard rumors about it the summer before we were about to move in, but we remained skeptical until we heard it from multiple confirmed sources.
Julia Nicholson: We came over to tour the house right before we signed the lease, and the guys who lived there before us let us in on it. We were sold! Fun fact: When you would check in there on social media, it was called “The Brocastle.” The name stuck even though there were six of us girls living there.

What were your thoughts when you heard that news?
AD: Something along the lines of “STFU”/”GTFO.” All of my roommates, including myself, thought it was such a crazy coincidence. But [we] also weren’t entirely surprised because we had heard rumors about our house (The Brocastle) being a major party house throughout the years.
JN: We all laughed and immediately texted like 20 of our friends. It was especially exciting news for me because I’m from Maryland, and Michael Phelps is the best thing to come out of Baltimore since crab cakes.

How would friends respond when you told them that it was the Phelps house?
AD: It’s about half and half. Some definitely don’t believe it (because what is the likelihood of that?), and others are just as flabbergasted as we were when we first found out (especially the friends that would come over for parties).
JN: They all wanted to blaze up in there!

What is the funniest Phelps reference someone made while partying in the house?
AD: Honestly, I think the gem of it all is the fact that we had the photo [of Phelps with the bong] printed out and framed in our “party room.” Lots of people, when coming over for the first time, would pose by it and those photos still circulate around. But it’s truthfully just really cool for people to realize that they’ve been in the same house as Michael Phelps, and that’s what people talk about most.
JN: A lot of our upperclassmen friends told us stories about being at the party where it all went down.

If you could tell Phelps one thing about the house and your time in it, what would it be?
AD: He made the time in The Brocastle for myself and my five other roommates that much more memorable! I would be lying if I didn’t say we tweeted at him numerous times to come back and visit. We’re sure that he’s always welcome back to Carolina and The Brocastle.
JN: Thanks for the memories, Phelps. The Brocastle salutes you!

Who do you think are the hottest athletes at the 2016 Olympics? We break down our choices in the video below.