How Lolo Jones Became A Mainstream Star Without Winning A Single Olympic Medal

lolo jones american flag

Photo: @lolojones

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

In the finals she came in fourth place, losing to Pearson and two of her American teammates

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

Lolo was drained after the Olympics, but she still stayed entertaining on Twitter

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

And even though she didn't medal, the endorsements kept rolling in

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

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