Lolo Jones is not your typical Olympic breakout star.She isn’t a 16-year-old gymnast or a phenom swimmer. She isn’t even a medalist.
In London, Lolo proved that it’s possible for Olympic athletes to stay relevant and achieve crossover fame without winning gold.
All you need is an incredible life story, a bubbly personality, some good looks, and a penchant for being honest and outspoken at all times.
It’s easier said than done, but Lolo proved it’s possible by going from a little-known “virgin track star” to a legitimately famous athlete in the space of five short months.
Here’s how she did it.
The quote, combined with her good looks, sparked a flood of interest in her. And as it turned out, she had a pretty inspirational life story...
When she was little, her father taught her how to shoplift. She'd steal TV dinners from grocery stores so she and her siblings would have something to eat
She didn't hit it big until 2008, when she was the odds-on favourite to win the gold medal in the 100m hurdles but fell in the finals
Despite the fall, her off-the-track career took off after '08. By 2012 she was making healthy six-figures from endorsements and modelling, HBO says
Fast forward to 2012, and things were different. Lolo had struggled with injuries for years, and Aussie Sally Pearson was the heavy favourite in the 100m hurdles
Her underdog status prompted the New York Times to write a hit piece on her, saying she didn't deserve the marketing dollars and attention she was getting
After the games were over, she admitted that the article hurt her confidence in a tearful Today Show interview
But despite the backlash (or because of it?) she was one of the main attractions in London, on par with Ryan Lochte and the USA basketball team
Her Olympics started off a little rough. She barely qualified for the 100m hurdles final, making the cut by just a few hundredths of a second
But STILL Lolo stayed in the spotlight. Dawn Harper, who won silver in the race, went on the Today Show the next day and ripped her, saying she didn't work hard
When she returned to the States, it was instantly clear that she wasn't going anywhere. She was a guest on all the talk shows
Now she's training to be an Olympic bobsledder, meaning she's going to be in our lives until at least 2014
Olympic athletes typically have a very small window to capitalise on media attention. But Lolo proved that you can stay relevant if you have the right mix of personality, looks, and talent
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.