For a few moments, she was everybody’s favorite athlete, but then we all forgot her.
Today, we’re going to find out all about Allison Stokke, and what she’s been up to in the many years since she went viral. She’s still very involved in the sport of pole vaulting, but some of the others things she’s been doing while you haven’t been looking might surprise you.
In the age of images and stories going viral on the internet, a single picture can make somebody into an internet sensation overnight. They’re famous for a few days, and then they disappear again. They’re just tossed away whenever the latest thing to catch the internet’s attention takes their place.
One such person who was elevated to fame in this way was a pole vaulting athlete by the name of Allison Stokke, who was noticed because of her beauty more than her athletic skill. For a few fleeting moments, she was everybody’s favorite athlete, but then we all forgot her.
Pole vaulting has been a sport for a very long time, and is a fixture of every World Championships and Olympics. Many of us enjoy watching the sport on television, but few of us (outside of enthusiasts) could name a prominent pole vaulter. Allison Stokke changed all that.
Fame arrived early in her career – when the first pictures of her were circulated, she was still learning the trade as an amateur. She hadn’t even decided whether to make a career out of the sport.
A Star Is Born
It all began for Stokke back at home in California, where she was born in March 1989. She was born to her parents Allan and Cindy, and has one brother; David. Growing up, she was normal as any other California girl.
Stokke’s social media accounts have been online for years, and a search back through them suggests she had a totally normal upbringing – although the pictures suggest she definitely enjoyed being on the beach more than anywhere else!
A Beautiful Transaction
As is the case with so many people who go viral based on a picture, internet fame didn’t do much for Stokke financially. Nor was she earning any money out of pole vaulting when she came to the world’s attention; amateurs don’t get paid anything at all!
Fortunately for Stokke, she’s extraordinarily beautiful. Her good looks attracted the attention of several modeling agencies, and doing part-time modeling work helped her to pay her bills during her years of training.
It’s All In The Family
Having athletic talent seems to be something of a family trait for the Stokkes. Allison got all of the attention, but her brother David has skills of his own. He represented the USA at international level in amateur gymnastics.
David was something of an inspiration for Allison; it’s very hard to achieve a national rank as an amateur gymnast, and his success pushed her forward. She even tried gymnastics herself, but it wasn’t for her. Her future involved a very different athletic discipline.
Gymnastics might not have ticked all the boxes for Stokke, but she did enjoy the competitive element of the sport. She knew that if she could find the right sport, her competitive nature would compel her to excel at it.
She tried out for many different sports at school. One in particular spoke to her. Stokke turned out to have a natural talent for pole vaulting – the type which simply can’t be taught in other people. By the time she was fifteen, she was a specialist with the pole.
Going Viral Can Be Stressful!
Stokke hadn’t chosen to go viral, but she soon found herself having to deal with all the attention that came along with it anyway. There were internet-based Allison Stokke fan clubs who wanted to speak to her, and commercial sponsors who wanted to endorse her.
Stokke realized that she now had an opportunity, but found all the sudden attention somewhat overwhelming. Underneath it all, she was still just a normal teenage girl. The glare of the spotlight took some getting used to.
Things Took A Turn
It didn’t take long for her fame to start taking a sinister turn. People pored through her old social media pictures, and shared them on websites which existed to provide men with something to ogle. Some of the pictures were taken when she was much younger.
On top of all this, she was given the questionable award of ‘Internet Crush of 2007.’ Her looks weren’t what she wanted to be known for, and she definitely didn’t enjoy being an object of lust.
By this point, Stokke felt like she’d lost control of her own identity. Her pictures were turning up all over the internet, and in national newspapers. Everyone knew what she looked like, but nobody knew her story. To take back control of her own life, Stokke decided to speak to the press.
She accepted an invitation for an interview from the CBS television network, determined to present herself as a serious athlete. This was the first time Stokke had a deliberate interaction with the media.
Any father would take whatever steps were necessary to protect their daughter, but Allison’s father had a particularly useful profession for the task – he was a lawyer. People making disgusting comments about her now faced the threat of a lawsuit. Her dad also monitored social media and correspondence to keep an eye out for stalkers.
Unfortunately, women who look like Stokke often find themselves targeted by seriously deranged people. Her dad did whatever he could to make sure she stayed safe.
Viral The Second Time Around
Most people only go viral once, if ever at all. Stokke isn’t like most people. She’s actually gone viral twice, but the second time around it was all by her own choice. It came via a video spawned through her endorsement deal with GoPro – the camera company.
Stokke attached a GoPro to her pole, and recorded herself going through her pole vaulting training. The resulting promotional video once again captured the attention of the internet, and Stokke’s name was on everybody’s lips once more.
She Became A Businesswoman
Having experienced fame once before in her life, Stokke was more confident about dealing with it the second time around. She knew exactly what it involved, and exactly how she wanted to use it.
Managing her personal brand with the expertise of a seasoned businesswoman, Stokke made sure the endorsement deals kept rolling in. The next company in line was Uniqlo, who signed a deal with Stokke that involved her modeling their athletic clothing range. The camera loved her.
Love Is In The Air
Ever since she first found herself in the press, there had been speculation about Stokke’s romantic status. There had never been a story about Stokke and a boyfriend, but in 2016 that was all about to change. Stokke started to get pictured with Rickie Fowler.
For a long time, Stokke said nothing about the status of her relationship with Fowler. The press had a field day speculating about whether they were friends or partners, but Stokke didn’t seem interested in dignifying the gossip columns with a response.
He Was A Sports Star Too
If anyone knew a thing or two about how to deal with the media, it was Fowler. Fowler was a sporting star in his own right – he was one of the most highly-ranked professional golf players in the world, and he’d started young just like Stokke.
Stokke seemed to enjoy spending time with Fowler despite her having reason to envy him; he achieved her Olympic dream in 2016 when he headed to Brazil as part of the USA’s golf team.