TOKYO — Things you get when you win an Olympic gold medal in the all-around in women's gymnastics: Instant fame. Shout-outs from celebrities on social media. A day in your honor.
Things you don't get: A decent night of sleep.
"It's been incredible,'' Suni Lee said Friday evening, a little less than 24 hours after she won the most prestigious title in her sport. "It's just been insane. All my social media platforms have been blowing up. My phone is blowing up non-stop.''
Lee still needs her rest, since she will compete in the uneven bars finals Sunday (5:27 a.m. in Minnesota on Peacock and NBCOlympics.com) and the balance beam finals Tuesday (3:48 a.m. in Minnesota on Peacock and NBCOlympics.com). She was far too excited to sleep Thursday night after her victory in a closely contested all-around final.
In the first six days of the Tokyo Games, Lee gained more than 800,000 followers on Instagram, where stars such as Reese Witherspoon have congratulated her. She has been trending on Twitter. Gov. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter declared Friday as Sunisa Lee Day, honoring her in her home state and hometown.
Barely a day removed from her triumph, Lee said it still hadn't fully sunk in. She was beginning to realize the world is now on a first-name basis with her, as it is with previous all-around champions like Simone (Biles), Gabby (Douglas), Nastia (Liukin) and Mary Lou (Retton).
That wasn't something Lee thought about during 12 years of laying the groundwork for this day, when just making the U.S. Olympic team seemed like the highest goal possible. She isn't putting on airs; asked how she will celebrate when she returns home, she said she just wants to "go eat a good breakfast'' and get ready to start college at Auburn next month.
Her immediate reward was a day off Friday, followed by the chance to bring home two more Olympic medals.
"It's just so surreal,'' Lee said. "I never thought I could be an Olympic champion, and here I am.
"Right now, everything is so crazy. I've kind of been getting distracted. But as soon as I get back into the gym, everything will be normal.''
Lee revealed Friday that she wasn't completely confident coming into the Games. Her practices had been "terrible,'' she said, which typically happens before she competes.
She usually pulls everything together once she's in front of the judges. As a newcomer to the Olympic stage, Lee worried this time would be different. It was, but in a good way.
After Biles withdrew from the team competition following the first event on Tuesday, Lee had to quickly get past the shock and score well in her three events to keep the U.S. in medal contention. She came through, which strengthened her confidence going into the all-around final.
Lee adjusted on the fly throughout the all-around competition. Her form wasn't perfect as she started her bars routine, but she willed herself through her most difficult combination of skills to get the big score she needed. On beam, she nearly fell on an early turn, so she made an instant risk-reward calculation and took out a second turn.
With a lead of .101 over Brazil's Rebeca Andrade going into the final rotation, Lee knew the gold medal hinged on her floor exercise. She nailed a new routine that had been assembled just hours earlier.
"I feel like I've learned how mentally strong I actually am,'' Lee said. "Going into this, I thought I would crack under pressure and fall all over the place, because I was so nervous. I'm really proud of myself for staying focused.''
Lee expects to maintain that focus in her two event finals. She hopes to do her highest-scoring bars routine Sunday, when she and Belgium's Nina Derwael are expected to compete for the gold medal.
Shortly after Lee won the all-around, her sister, Shyenne, put things into perspective. Suni used to be kind of famous, Shyenne said. But Olympic all-around champions are really famous.
Lee understands that, but said she is "hoping I'm going to be normal.'' That might be difficult when everyone in her home state is celebrating Sunisa Lee Day.
"That doesn't even sound right,'' she said. "It sounds so crazy. I can't wrap my head around it. I have a whole day in Minnesota dedicated to myself. And that's just insane.''