Here’s What You Need to Know About Tonya Harding Before Seeing ‘I, Tonya’
More than two decades after her scandal rocked the nation, Tonya Harding is once again making headlines. And it’s all thanks to Margot Robbie’s turn as the figure skater in the upcoming movie, I, Tonya.
Margot recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to talk about her upcoming role, and why the movie features mockumentary-style interviews. “The structure of the film was born out of the fact that [screenwriter Steven Rogers] did a six-hour interview with Tonya and felt like there were so many questions left unanswered that he went and did an equally long interview with [her ex-husband] Jeff [Gillooly],” she said. “Then he found that both interviews contradicted each other so much that he was like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s the movie.’”
Most people have a vague idea of who the now-46-year-old is — or, at least, her involvement in the attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan. But there’s so much more to Tonya than that, from her journey to the Olympics to her life in 2017, 23 years after she was banned by the United States Figure Skating Association.
Before heading to theaters on Dec. 8, get acquainted with the woman behind the infamous name. Read on for everything you need to know about Tonya, then and now.
Where is she from?
Tonya was born Nov. 12, 1970, and grew up in Portland, OR. She began skating at just three years old and dropped out of school in 10th grade to focus on her career, though she later went back to earn her GED.
Who is her mother?
Tonya was raised by her mom, LaVona Golden, who she claims was physically and mentally abusive by the time she turned seven. LaVona has since admitted to hitting Tonya publicly at an ice rink.
How did Tonya get famous?
She became a household name in 1991 when she landed her first triple axel at the US Championships. The performance earned her the first 6.0 in history for a single female skater in technical merit. Unfortunately, she was never able to land the axel again at any major championship and finished fourth in the 1992 Winter Olympics.
What happened with Nancy Kerrigan?
In January 1994, Tonya’s husband Jeff Gillooly and bodyguard Shawn Eckardt hired Shane Stant to break competitor Nancy Kerrigan’s right leg. He struck her thigh above the knee with a baton, bruising it so badly that she was forced to withdraw from the 1994 US Figure Skating Championships. Though Tonya won the event, Nancy recovered and both women were selected for the 1994 Olympic team.
Tonya and Nancy (right) with Kristi Yamaguchi in 1991.
Did she win a medal?
Despite her best efforts at sabotage, Tonya came in eighth place at the 1994 Winter Olympics. Though she didn’t medal, her rival Nancy won silver behind Oksana Baiul.
Did she go to jail?
A month after the attack, Tonya’s husband Jeff accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against her. He and the other two participants in the attack, as well as the getaway driver, all served time in prison. Meanwhile, Tonya pled guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers, receiving three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine. She also had to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and resign from the United States Figure Skating Association. The organization later stripped her of her 1994 US Championships title and banned her for life.
Is she married?
Tonya has been married three times, starting with the aforementioned Jeff at 19 years old. After splitting from him in 1993, she married second husband Michael Smith in 1995, only to divorce him a year later. She’s now been married to Joseph Jens Price since 2010.
Does she have kids?
She and husband Joseph have one child together, a son named Gordon. She gave birth to him on Feb. 19, 2011, and he’s now six years old.
What’s she doing now?
Since leaving figure skating, Tonya has supported herself through a variety of endeavors, including selling a sex tape with then-husband Jeff Gillooly for $200,000 to Penthouse. She’s also worked as a waitress, and had a brief boxing career from 2002 to 2004, which ended because of her asthma. She released her autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, in 2008.
How much is she worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tonya is worth $30,000 in 2017.
How does she feel about the movie?
“Tonya is getting ready to be seen again,” her friend tells People magazine. “She’s eating well and has lost some weight. She’s getting in shape and is even skating again. She’s really excited about this.”