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Encinitas Olympian Michael Andrew — and His Gold Medal — Visit the ‘Cardiff Kook'

The Team USA gold medal winner has returned to his home in San Diego's North County after the Tokyo Olympics and snapped a social media photo at the "Cardiff Kook"

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Olympic gold medalist Michael Andrew has returned home to San Diego's North County and he's making his rounds to his favorite local spots, including a visit to the Cardiff Kook statue in Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Encinitas, California.

And he brought a little something with him when he stopped at the Cardiff Kook: that shiny gold medal he won with Team USA in the 4x100m relay at the Tokyo Olympics.

He stood next to the bronze with his gold.

The Olympian posted a photo of himself standing near the iconic statue on his Instagram Wednesday.

The caption? "Good to be home..."

More words weren't really necessary.

Andrew -- wearing some casual Olympics-themed gear -- held up his gold medal and flashed a smile.

And someone else -- someone right above him -- was copying him.

The Cardiff Kook -- a 6-foot bronze statue that the community often decorates for the holidays or to comment on current events -- was outfitted with a replica gold medal and an American flag. On the Kook's surfboard was a little cardboard sign bearing Andrew's name and the Olympic rings.

"Congrats," the sign read.

The U.S. men’s swimming team picked up a gold medal in the 4x100m medley relay.

Now, for the Kook to take notice of a topic or person’s impact on the world, well, that’s kind of a big deal in Encinitas.

The statue is often dressed up for big occasions (think Christmas and Halloween). That’s its thing.

Sometimes, the decorations on the Cardiff Kook speak on social issues.

This time, it was all about the Olympics and the local swimmer who made a splash in Tokyo, though NBC 7 isn't sure who put the decorations on the statue.

The Cardiff Kook -- which is officially named the "Magic Carpet Ride" -- was created by Matthew Antichevich, an artist and sculpture instructor.

It's been the talk of the town for a while -- ridiculed at first, but now seemingly accepted.

Some people love it and others, well, they're not big fans.

Some people feel the Kook’s pose on his surfboard lacks proper form and isn’t representative of the local surfing community. Hence, the "kooky" nickname given to the art piece by locals.

Either way, everyone’s got an opinion on the Kook.

Some people see the decorations on the Cardiff Kook as an ongoing prank.

Others think the statue’s wardrobe changes are fun.

Some see the public art piece – and its connection to the community – as a local landmark. You can watch the video below to learn more about the Cardiff Kook:

On HIghway 101 north of San Diego, there’s a statue that was once ridiculed but has grown to find its own place in the hearts of the public. 

By the way, other local stops for Andrew -- as seen on his Instagram story Wednesday -- included breakfast at the Little Moore Coffee Shop on North Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas where, in true San Diego fashion, a burrito was enjoyed.

Good form.

Andrew is originally from Minnesota, grew up in South Dakota and Kansas, and settled in Encinitas in 2018. Read all about him here.

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Michael Andrew's Time at the Tokyo Olympics

Andrew, 22, competed in several events in Tokyo, his first-ever Olympics. This included the men's 100m breaststroke, the men's 200m individual medley, the men's 50m freestyle and his gold-winning relay alongside Team USA stars Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple and Ryan Murphy.

Swimmer Michael Andrew grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, before his family relocated to California. This first-time Olympian talks about how his family and upbringing shaped him into the athlete he is today.

During the games, his family and friends cheered him on from north San Diego County. When he got that gold, his mom was thrilled for both her son and the U.S.

Prior to the Olympics, Andrew spoke with NBC 7 about his training and how much his family's support has meant to him as he achieved his dreams of competing in Tokyo.

Andrew made some buzz outside the pool in Tokyo, too.

He was among the Olympic athletes not vaccinated against COVID-19 and when he didn't wear a mask behind the scenes after swimming his final at the Tokyo Olympics last week, some people took notice.

Andrew was maskless when he stopped to speak with reporters in the mixed zone, an area where journalists interview athletes after events. He was asked why he wasn't wearing a mask and this is what he had to say.

Listen/Subscribe to NBC 7’s Olympic Dreams: San Diego to Tokyo podcast wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. On each episode, NBC 7 News Today anchor Steven Luke will sit down with athletes in their prime, each with their sights set on one thing: representing Team USA in Tokyo this summer. How will they achieve their Olympic dreams?

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