As Michael Phelps continues to bring home the gold at the Rio Olympics, he had quite a cheering section. His family is a mainstay in the poolside bleachers, with two recent additions: his fiancée, Nicole Johnson, and their 3-month-old son, Boomer.
Johnson has been by the swimmer's side through some ups and downs in his life, and in their relationship, and now says she couldn't be prouder of her soon-to-be husband. But she's way more than just a supportive future spouse. Here's what you need to know about Nicole Johnson.
1. She's best known for her beauty pageant successes.
Johnson started competing in pageants when she was 17, when she read an advertisement for Miss Teenage California; she originally competed to try to get a scholarship and won first runner-up, but found that the pageant world made her feel more confident. "People think pageant girls are snotty, cutthroat, self-absorbed," Johnson told the Thousand Oaks Acorn in 2010. "Everybody that I meet in the industry is so kind, giving, and they are some of the most amazing women." She ended up competing in seven pageants total.
She was crowned Miss California USA in 2010 and came in ninth place in the Miss USA pageant. Phelps took a break from training for the 2012 Olympics to be by her side for all of her pageant duties. And in 2011, when she handed off her crown to the next winner, Phelps was cheering on in the crowd. "I'm here for one reason and one reason only," Phelps told E! News. "Nicole."
2. She's a marketing pro.
She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2007 with a degree in communications, with a concentration in sports and entertainment. After that, here are just a few highlights from her LinkedIn profile: As Miss California USA, she helped double the number of competitors from 2010 to 2011 and even recruited Miss California USA 2011, who went on to win the entire Miss USA pageant. After her crown, she worked at a Mercedes-Benz dealership and then served as ambassador for INTA Gems & Diamonds, the official crown jeweler of Miss California USA. (That year, she became an accredited jewelry professional with the Gemological Institute of America.)
Then, she worked for the restaurant loyalty program MOGL and had a stint as a communications director for YP, the rebranded Yellow Pages. Now, she does marketing for Michael Phelps's foundation and also helps promote Phelps's MP swim products.
3. She's used her celebrity for good causes.
As Miss California USA, Johnson worked with the local Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, which helps children who have faced abuse and neglect. Now she serves as the volunteer marketing manager for the Michael Phelps Foundation, which provides swimming lessons to kids from underprivileged backgrounds.
4. She and Phelps have had an on-again, off-again romance.
The two started dating in 2007; People reports they broke up in 2011 but then got back together in 2014. "I said to a couple of my friends if I ever had the chance to get her back, that would be it. She was the one I loved the most." Phelps told USA Today last year. "Her and I have been on and off for eight years. It's been a long time. We've been through a lot. But I love her to death. We've been able to grow as a couple through everything we've been through, the positive changes I've made in my life."
Phelps has publicly gone through some rocky stages in his life, dealing with depression and ending up in rehab after a drunk-driving arrest in 2014. According to the Baltimore Sun, after he got out of rehab, he patched things up with his father and with Johnson. Ever since, he is rarely in public without Johnson by his side, and he always described her as "the true love of his life." Phelps proposed to Johnson in 2015, and the couple plans to get married after the Olympics.
5. She's the proud new mom to baby Boomer, aka the cutest baby ever.
Phelps and Johnson became parents to little Boomer Robert Phelps on May 5, and that kid is cute enough to earn his own Instagram account. Phelps's mom, Debbie, credits Johnson and little Boomer for keeping her son on the right track, even when Phelps is busy training. "They've adjusted themselves so well, but they talk together every night their conversation, and I just think they have a very special, loving bond between the three of them," she told WBAL-TV. Boomer has been seen on Olympics broadcasts rocking noise-canceling headphones while his dad swims. Just look at those cheeks!
6. She's also the proud mom of two adorable pups.
Juno and Legend, the French bulldogs, take up prime real estate in Johnson's Instagram feed. (Though here's betting their jealous of Boomer taking up their turf.) For a while, Juno even had her own Instagram account too. They even pose next to patriotic flags and cheer on their dad at the Olympics.
7. She's been right at Phelps's side during the Rio games, with baby Boomer in her arms.
Whenever Phelps is swimming at the Rio Olympics, the camera always pans to Johnson, looking on proudly and holding little Boomer in her arms. She's usually next to Debbie, whose reactions have been legendary throughout multiple Olympics. "I'm at an absolute loss for words," she wrote after Phelps achieved his 21st gold medal. "He is the epitome of working hard, dreaming big, and achieving the all American Dream."
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