Rickie Fowler is one of the most well-known golfers in the world, but he's not even close to being the best athlete in his house. No, that title belongs to former collegiate Pole and professional pole vaulter Allison Stokke.
She grew up in Newport Beach, California in a sports-dominant household. Her brother was a national youth gymnast, a sport that she participated in as well. Following her stint in gymnastics, Stokke eventually found the sport that would make her famous: pole vaulting.
After picking up the sport, she quickly became one of the best high school pole vaulters in the country. Stokke eventually won the 15/16 age group at the United States national meet in 2004 with an impressive vault. However, that wasn't what drew her into the public eye - at least not nationally.
Despite being one of the best high school athletes in the country, headlines were rarely about what she achieved in the sport of track and field.
Viral Photo That Brought Allison Stokke Into National Spotlight:
Allison burst onto the scene in unfortunate circumstances as blogs focused on her good looks rather than her prowess on the track. And this all happened when she was just 17 years old.
Competing at a high school meet in California in 2007, a photographer snapped a picture of Stokke preparing for her event. The photographer placed the photo on the state's track and field website and could not have guessed what would come next. A blog, named With Leather at the time but changed to Uproxx, posted the photo on its website along with the caption: "Meet pole vaulter Allison Stokke... Hubba hubba and other grunting sounds."
The photo quickly went viral, before people even know what viral content was online. It eventually took over Stokke's life, with modeling agencies and media companies trying to get a piece. She spoke about the challenges she faced in dealing with that kind of fame at such a young age.
"I feel like me and that picture are two different people," Stokke said to ESPN in 2016. "I feel it has taken on a life of its own. It's like that picture is my alter-ego and sometimes I feel like I use it for a positive force, and sometimes I just choose to leave it out there and not engage with it."
"In the months after the picture went viral, photographers would kneel beneath her at meets, shooting upward as she stood on the runway before an attempt," ESPN noted. "Grown men would send postcards, with handwritten notes, to her home in California -- some of the sentiments were kind; some were not."
The attention continued with more photographers showing up at the rest of her high school meets before she eventually left for college.
Where Did Allison Stokke Go To College?
Allison Stokke eventually took her pole vaulting prowess to the University of California, where she earned an athletic scholarship. She made an immediate impact on the team, breaking the school record for a freshman athlete both indoors and outdoors with one of her vaults.
Even then, though, the viral photo followed her to college. "When Stokke vaulted at Cal, the school removed her headshot from its website because men would constantly request a signed copy," ESPN said in its piece. In fact, Cal still doesn't have a photo of her on her athletic profile from the school.
However, the page does list her numerous accomplishments while competing in the Pac-10. Stokke continued to build on an impressive freshman season by qualifying for the NCAA Women's Division I Track and Field Championships where she finished 19th in the country.
After struggling during her junior season - at least by her lofty standards - Stokke broke through during the Indoor season of her senior year. She earned All-American status after placing eighth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
What Did Allison Stokke Do After College?
Allison Stokke attempted to keep her pole vaulting career going with the ultimate goal of competing in the 2012 Olympics. She posted a new lifetime best vault after leaving college, but couldn't maintain that momentum.
Stokke did not make the cut for the United States Track and Field team, falling just short of the qualifying mark. She continued to compete, but her performances declined following her run at trying to make the Olympics.
She eventually stopped competing and paired with several athletics companies like Nike, Athleta and Uniqlo as a sponsored athlete.
When Did Allison Stokke Start Dating Rickie Fowler?
Details of how Allison Stokke and PGA star Rickie Fowler met are still unclear - at least there's a little mystery left in their lives. The couple first made things public with a photo in April 2017 from the Moto GP race they attended in Texas.
"We tied?" she said in the caption of the post nearly four years ago.
Their relationship developed rather quickly after that, with Fowler popping the question just over a year later.
"Rickie, Justin Thomas, and I flew up to Southampton a few days early for the U.S. Open," Stokke told Vogue. "At the end of the day, we were the only people on one of the beaches, and Rickie asked Justin to take a picture of us. After a couple of photos, I looked over and Rickie was down on one knee with a big smile on his face."
The couple married on October 5, 2019.
Stokke and Fowler are one of the sporting world's favorite couples. Both found success in their respective sports - with Fowler holding the No. 66 ranking in the world right now.
Allison Stokke might not be pole vaulting any more, but she still has a massive following on social media. She has over 600,000 followers in Instagram - where she often posts photos of she and Rickie Fowler and advertised posts.