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Inside Gymnast Shawn Johnson's Post-Olympics Life with Husband Andrew East
The 2008 Olympic gold medal winner parlayed her gymnastics success into more than just celebrity stardom.
Few Olympic athletes have enjoyed the type of career success that Shawn Johnson has garnered while representing Team USA in gymnastics. But it’s not just about her myriad of accolades that elevates her into the pantheon of other greats like Simone Biles, Dominique Dawes, and Mary Lou Retton — it’s the fact that her dominance in such a difficult and highly competitive realm came at such an early age.
At just 16, Johnson captured the hearts of Americans all across Uncle Sam’s great land with her breathtaking performance during the balance beam event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Her near-flawless routine earned her the gold, making her just the second American woman to win the top prize in that event after Shannon Miller did so at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Georgia. But the native of Des Moines, Iowa was just getting warmed up. Her score of 62.725 propelled her to capture the silver medal in the individual all-around behind only Nastia Liukin, who she roomed with at the Olympic Village and hails as her best friend. Her powerful presentation in the floor exercise delivered her yet another silver on the way to helping Team USA earn the silver in the team competition. If Olympic greatness is measured by the hardware one gains, then her triumphant journey, one full of additional trophy-winning achievements, has raised the bar and set a new standard for all Olympic gymnasts who have followed in her footsteps.
Now 31, the pillar of American gymnastics has parlayed her success in her sport into finding ultimate life fulfillment.
Shawn Johnson's Post-Olympics Fame
Hot off her achievements at the Beijing Games, Johnson parlayed her Olympic success in China into further building her global brand by making several appearances on various television shows later that year. In addition to appearing on The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and more talk shows, Johnson had a two-part cameo role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
Beyond the TV realm, she won the 2009 ESPY for “Best Female U.S. Olympian” and the Teen Choice Award for the “Best Female Athlete,” an honor bestowed upon her twice. Accompanied by endorsements from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Secret deodorant, Johnson’s fame continued to rise, and a scientific poll commissioned by Forbes magazine crowned her “America’s Most-Liked Sports Figure” in 2009.
Though she’s a best-selling author of three books and a once prominent figure on the CNBC show AdVenture Capitalist in 2017 as well as Celebrity Apprentice in 2015 alongside Donald Trump, in addition to her Olympic heroics, she’s perhaps best known for her Hollywood splash on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. She and her dancing partner Mark Ballas won the season eight finale in 2009, and Johnson returned to the program in 2012 for the Season 15 All-Star edition. Despite lighting up the stage with her partner Derek Hough, the talented duo came in second. Some Johnson’s other television appearances include Whose Line Is It Anyway? and American Ninja Warrior.
Why did Shawn Johnson retire from gymnastics?
Though she fought valiantly to mount an Olympic comeback after tearing her ACL, MCL, meniscus, and hamstring on a family ski trip in 2010, no amount of exhaustive physical therapy could mitigate the lingering effects of the severe injury, nor could it restore her to the elite athlete she once was, and in 2012, after repeated setbacks during her training to earn a spot for the London Games, she made the heart-breaking decision to retire.
"It just little by little gets worse and worse," Johnson told The Associated Press, according to ESPN. "My body is to the point where I need time to rest and retire, so I can be healthy for the rest of my life. It's hard to wrap my mind around. Gymnastics has been my entire life, and now it's no more."
"It's been a really hard decision,” she added. "I'd like to be 30 and have kids and run around with them. It became more about my future life than this future one moment. I'm looking at the bigger picture of things."
Who is Shawn Johnson married to, and do they have kids?
Despite her injuries, forcing her into an early retirement, the golden gal of Iowa achieved her ultimate dream of raising a family with her ex-NFL player husband Andrew East, who she wed in 2016. Residing in Nashville, Tennessee, the happy couple now have three children together — daughter Drew, 4, son Jett, 2 and their most recent addition, son Barrett, who the couple calls “Bear.”
Now that they have a full house with three kids, Johnson recently opened up about what life is like for her and East after the birth of their son, Bear.
"Most amazing thing about this special small window of time with a newborn is being able to hold, cuddle, nurse, and be with him [Bear] 24/7," Johnson shared on Instagram, according to People. "It's a time like no other that you'll never get back."
"BUT the hardest part of this short phase is missing my big kids," admitted the Hall of Fame gymnast. "Daddy is doing the best job in the world showering them with attention and adventures but this mama misses her big babies."
Shawn Johnson's Charity Work
In addition to actively supporting a multitude of charitable organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Ronald McDonald House and the Special Olympics, having amassed nearly seven million followers on social media, Johnson and East use their celebrity status to help raise awareness in several critical areas, including mental health, parenthood, nutrition, body image health, and the role of faith in family.
Through her work with the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, Johnson, whose grandmother survived breast and lung cancer, has been helping to educate women on various forms of cancer they may face and what sort of treatments are available to them for more than 15 years. She’s also hosted a myriad of fundraisers and events like Frosted Pink with a Twist.
“[Cancer] really touched my family, and it touched my heart,” Johnson revealed in a 2008 FOX43 interview. “The more you know, the better you are.”