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15 Minutes Of Fame: Where Are They Now?

Updated October 23, 2019 1.4m views28 items

With the advent of YouTube and reality shows, there's no shortage of those who have held the spotlight for their 15 minutes of fame, only to fade back into obscurity. The "15 minutes of fame" expression refers to a short-lived, highly public stint in the spotlight for celebs and regular, everyday people as well. These experiences are often fueled by tabloid rumors or highly unusual circumstances that, for a rhetorical 15 minutes, capture the media's attention.

The "15 minutes" expression is credited to Andy Warhol, who included the words "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" in a program for an exhibition of his work in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1968.

Here's a plethora of folks, from Olympic medalists to politicians, who at some point had their 15 minutes. Some have been reduced to tabloid fodder, while others took their 15 mins of fame in the mass media and turned it into lucrative careers. So, where are they now? 

  • Nancy Kerrigan Then

    Nancy Kerrigan Then is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Minutes Of Fame: Where Are They Now?
    Photo: Post of Azerbaijan / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    While Nancy Kerrigan was obviously a talented figure skater (after all, she was competing in the Olympics), her big claim to fame happened when she was struck in the leg at a skating rink in January, 1994. Planned by the ex-husband of her longtime skating rival Tonya Harding, a hired hand struck Kerrigan with a baton after she exited a practice session on the rink. Once off the rink and out of sight, the man ran up to her and hit her with a club on her knee. The "Whyyyy!?" whack was felt around the world.

    The intent was to render Kerrigan unable to compete in the upcoming Olympics, leaving Harding as the frontrunner for the gold. Didn't work. Kerrigan ended up winning a silver medal two weeks later at the Olympics; Harding ended up banned from pro skating for life. 

  • Now a retired figure skater, Nancy stepped back into the spotlight as a commentator for the Sochi Winter Olympics. She's also the subject of the documentary The Price of Gold, which covers Kerrigan's experiences leading up to the 1994 Olympics. 

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  • Tonya Harding Then

    Harding's ex-husband orchestrated a strike on Kerrigan, aiming to hurt her so she'd be unable to compete in the Olympics. Fortunately, Kerrigan's leg wasn't broken and she was able to capture a silver medal.

    It was never actually proven that Harding had a hand in the strike, though she pleaded guilty to hindering the investigation. 

  • Despite a brief stint as a celebrity boxer (she quit the sport, complaining of asthma), Harding primarily lives outside the public eye. Due to the Kerrigan incident in '94, she was banned from pro skating for life. She was married in 2010, and she and her new husband had their first child, a boy, in 2011.

    A biopic about her life, I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as Harding, was released in 2017 to much critical acclaim, even netting Robbie an Oscar nom for Best Actress.

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