Nancy Kerrigan is a retired figure skater.
She is the 1994 Olympic silver medalist, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist, a two-time world medalist, and the 1993 U.S. national champion.
Kerrigan gained considerable fame beyond the skating world when, on January 6, 1994, she was clubbed in the right knee with a police baton by Shane Stant during a practice round on the eve of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Cobo Arena in Detroit, an assault planned by rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt. The incident became known as “The Whack Heard Round the World.”
Some of the attack and its aftermath was caught on camera and broadcast around the world, particularly the now famous footage of attendants helping Nancy Kerrigan as she grabs at her knee wailing “Why, why, why?” Although Kerrigan’s injury forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Championships, her rivals agreed that she merited one of the two spots on the Olympic team. The USFSA chose to name her to the Olympic team rather than second-place finisher Michelle Kwan.
Nancy Kerrigan recovered quickly from her knee injury and resumed her intensive training. She practiced by doing complete back-to-back double runs-through of her programs, until she felt completely confident in her ability to compete under pressure. The fame she had acquired from the attack led to further professional opportunities; it was reported that she had already signed contracts for $9.5 million before the Olympic competition began.
Seven weeks after the attack, Nancy Kerrigan skated what she considered to be the best two performances of her life and won the silver medal in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre, finishing second to Oksana Baiul. Kerrigan won the short program, but lost the free skate to Baiul in a close and controversial 5–4 decision. CBS Television played up the controversy by portraying it as a Cold War East-West split, singling out German judge Jan Hoffmann in particular for supposed biased judging.
Then, while Nancy Kerrigan and bronze medalist Chen Lu waited over 20 minutes for Olympic officials to find a copy of the Ukrainian national anthem, someone mistakenly told Kerrigan the delay in the presentation was because Baiul had cried off her make-up and was getting it retouched. Kerrigan, with obvious frustration, was caught on-camera saying “Oh, come on. She’s going to get up there and cry again. What’s the difference?” CBS chose to air the undiplomatic comment. This marked a distinct shift in the way Kerrigan was portrayed in the media, which had been somewhat protective of her image up to that point because of the attack against her.
Nancy Kerrigan then chose not to attend the closing ceremonies at the Olympics. Her agent claimed this was because Norwegian security advised her not to do so because of death threats that had been made against her, but this was later denied. Instead, she left Norway early to take part in a pre-arranged publicity parade at Walt Disney World, her $2 million sponsor. During the parade, she was caught on microphone saying to Mickey Mouse, “This is dumb. I hate it. This is the corniest thing I have ever done.” She later claimed her remark was taken out of context: she was not commenting on being in the parade, but rather because her agent insisted she wear her silver medal in the parade. She said showing off and bragging about her accomplishments was something that her parents always taught her not to do. She added that she had nothing against Disney or Mickey Mouse, and “Who could find fault with Mickey Mouse? He’s the greatest mouse I’ve ever known.”
News articles described Kerrigan as “grumpy” and “bitchy”, as well as shy and uncomfortable with the attention that was focused on her because of the attack. Commenting on the media backlash, Mike Barnicle of The Boston Globe said “Now the thing is over so we’ve got to kill her. That’s us [the media], not her.” Either because of the bad publicity or her own inclinations, some of Kerrigan’s previously-announced endorsement and television deals were dropped after the Olympics.
How Nancy Kerrigan Made Her Money – Figure Skating
Estimated Net Worth: $8 Million
Birthday: October 13, 1969