Flavor Flav is the official hype man for a U.S. women’s Olympic team

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Maggie Steffens asked for more support for the U.S. women’s water polo team, and the captain received one particularly surprising response.

From a clock-wearing rap icon.

Moved by Steffens’ Instagram post, Flavor Flav has stepped forward to help the U.S. team as it goes for an unprecedented fourth consecutive gold medal at the Paris Olympics this summer. He is finalizing a deal that will make him a USA Water Polo sponsor and the official hype man for a program seeking a bigger spotlight.

The 65-year-old Flav, a founding member and hype man with Public Enemy, has jumped headfirst into his new duties, highlighting some of the team’s best players on social media. He also is making plans to watch the women’s team play in Paris.

“When I come out and I watch this water polo team … ‘USA! USA!’ Yo, I’m going to be the biggest hype man that they ever had in their life,” he told the AP on Friday. “I’m going to be bigger than any cheerleader that they had in their life. I’m going to cheer this team on, and I’m going to cheer this team into winning a gold medal.”

Winning has been the usual result for the U.S. women’s team since the 2012 Olympics. But it hasn’t attracted the same attention or support as similarly dominant American programs, largely because water polo remains a niche sport throughout most of the world.

That — along with a little nostalgia — prompted Steffens, 30, the last remaining member of the 2012 team, to post on Instagram. While expressing gratitude for the opportunity to play and her love for her sport, she also encouraged anyone reading the post to check out her team and highlighted the constant financial struggle for most Olympic athletes.

“We’ve gotten a lot of comments you know of ‘Oh, it’s so cool what you’ve done. Bummer you’re not a soccer player or a basketball player, because your team would be getting way more publicity or way more support,’” Steffens said Friday from Paris, where the team is on a training trip ahead of the Olympics.

“And instead we’re still kind of where we were at 12 years ago, which for me isn’t my goal. I’ve always wanted to propel the sport forward.”

Enter Flav, who was inducted with the group Public Enemy into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Flav’s manager brought the post to his attention, and he decided he wanted to help.

“One thing about me, I know what it feels like to want to see a dream come true,” said Flav, who is known for wearing a big clock on a chain around his neck. “I know what it feels like to want to achieve a goal, and I’m the type of person that, if I see you trying, then I’m going to do whatever I can to help you.”

Steffens said it was “very surreal” when Flav — whose legal name is William Jonathan Drayton Jr. — reached out. Asked what she knew about Flav and Public Enemy before the connection, Steffens promptly imitated Flav’s frequent “Flavor Flav!” declaration.

Steffens is one of the oldest players on the U.S. team, but she said Ryann Neushul, 24, had Public Enemy in her top five on the music streaming service, Spotify. A couple of the team’s coaches and Steffens’ family also were excited about the partnership.

“My whole family was like ‘Is this real? Flav is part of the water polo world now?’” Steffens said. “I was like ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I want to wear a clock right now and that’s how I’m feeling.’”

Steffens and the U.S. team also have another high-profile supporter in Taylor Swift. They attended the musician’s Eras Tour concert on Friday night at La Défense Arena — the venue for the women’s water polo final on Aug. 10.

Women’s national team manager Ally Beck reached out to Swift’s camp and surprised the team with the tickets. Flav said he also contacted Swift’s team, but the tickets had already been approved.

Flav, who is working on another tour with Public Enemy that could begin later this year, then held up a T-shirt with his picture that read “KING SWIFTIE.”

“I’m proud to support Taylor. … Flavor Flav is a Swiftie, the king of all the Swifties,” he said.

That’s another connection Flav has with his new favorite team.

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