WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Although the NCAA recently crowned University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas as a national champion in the 500-yard freestyle event, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is crowning the runner-up swimmer from Sarasota instead.
DeSantis issued a proclamation Tuesday recognizing Emma Weyant as the "rightful winner."
By allowing men to compete in women's sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 22, 2022
In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota's Emma Weyant as the best women's swimmer in the 500y freestyle. pic.twitter.com/tBmFxFE3q6
Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win a national championship, beating Weyant by 1.75 seconds in last week's NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships.
During an earlier news conference in Wesley Chapel, the Republican governor said that "by allowing, basically, men" to compete in women's events, the NCAA is "taking efforts to destroy women's athletics."
The governor did not mention Thomas by name in his proclamation or during the news conference.
DeSantis said he was issuing the proclamation because Weyant, who is a swimmer at the University of Virginia, "earned that."
"We need to stop allowing organizations like the NCAA to perpetuate frauds on the public, and that's exactly what they're doing," DeSantis said. "They are putting ideology ahead of opportunity for women athletes."
Later that afternoon, DeSantis shared the proclamation on Twitter, saying Florida will "reject these lies."
The governor's proclamation declares Weyant the "rightful winner" of the women's 500-yard freestyle event. DeSantis congratulated her and noted his "pride that she is a Florida resident."
Weyant won an Olympic silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley last year in Tokyo.