Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is a South African model and the 2017 Miss Universe winner. She is dating Tim Tebow, who made headlines during his time as an exuberant quarterback for the Denver Broncos (and later the New York Jets).
Tebow is now playing professional baseball. The athlete, who is usually fiercely protective of his privacy, told ESPN this week that he is dating Nel-Peters. “She is a really special girl and I am very lucky and blessed for her coming into my life,” Tebow told ESPN. “I am usually very private with these things but I am very thankful.”
Born in 1995, the 23 year old Nel-Peters was the first Miss South Africa to be born after the country’s apartheid government fell in 1994.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Demi-Leigh and Tim Met At A Superbowl Party This Year And Got Together — Discreetly — This Spring
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I'm so excited to finally share with everyone…. We're going to UNIVERSE! ✨👑 I'm saying "we" because I know that just like Miss South Africa we'll go on this journey together and I can't wait to share it with each and every one of you! 💞🎉 To think, a year ago I first entered Miss South Africa as a small town girl with very big dreams and soon I'll be saying with the utmost pride…. "Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, 22, SOUTH AFRICAAAA"🙈🙏🏼😍🇿🇦 #Photo credits: @kevinmarkpass @stormpassmakeup @werner_wessels @noreenkajeevareta @ange_knight #missuniverse #missuniverse2017 #missSouthAfrica #confidentlybeautiful #journeytothecrown
According to Terez, Demi-Leigh and Tim Tebow first met this February, at a Superbowl Party organized by Direct TV.
Tebow had recently come out of a breakup with former Miss USA, Olivia Culpo.
Nel-Peters was in a relationship when she first met Tim. But when she and her longtime boyfriend split up this spring, the South African model and Tebow started a relationship. The New York Post reports that Tebow gave her an expensive David Yurman necklace for her birthday.
2. Nel-Peters Says Her Disabled Half-Sister Is Her Biggest Motivation
Nel-Peters has a 12 year old half-sister, Franje, who has a severe disability. The model has spoken very simply and directly about her love for her sister, and the motivation that her sister brings her. She told MissUniverse.com, “My half-sister was born without a cerebellum and is completely disabled. She is my biggest motivator and inspiration, because her situation makes me realize how special life is and I always want to work twice as hard, enjoy life twice as much so that I can enjoy it for her as well. Therefore each experience I encounter is that much more special.”
3. Nel-Peters Once Escaped a Hijacker By Punching Him in the Throat. Later She Started a Program to Train Women Learn Self Defense
In 2017, Nel-Peters survived a hijacking attempt in Johannesburg. The suspects apparently approached Nel-Peters near the Hyde Park Corner Shopping Centre one evening in June.
Nel-Peters told Ryan Seacrest that when the thieves first approached her, she stepped out of her car and handed over her things. But when the hijackers tried to force her to get into the car again so that they could drive away with her, the model punched one of the men in the throat. They ran away, taking her personal belongings with her but leaving her and the car behind.
Nel-Peters reacted to the attack by starting a campaign called Unbreakable. Unbreakable aims to empower women around the world by teaching them self-defense techniques to protect themselves in case of attack.
4. Some South Africans Accused Nel-Peters Her of Racism After a Photo-Op With Needy Children
In 2017, before Nel-Peters was Miss Universe, she was Miss South Africa. The pageant winner made an appearance at a soup kitchen in the Soweto district of Johannesburg. She posted pictures of herself interacting with children at the soup kitchen.
Almost immediately, there was an outcry on social media, as people reacted with anger to the fact that Nel-Peters was wearing latex gloves during her interactions with the children. One twitter user wrote, “I really can’t believe ‘our’ Miss SA is wearing latex so that she can touch these kids!!” Another pointed out that Nel-Peters had not worn gloves when she peeled potatoes at an event for white people.
Nel-Peters is the first Miss South Africa who was born after the fall of that country’s apartheid government in 1994. Different rumors have swirled about her ethnic origins, with many in South Africa speculating that she is part Filipino. Nel-Peters seemed to find that rumor amusing and confirmed that she is not of Filipino ancestry. AP has reported that she is of mixed race. But she herself said simply that she is 100 percent South African, and noted that other people of her ethnicity came from Europe.
5. Nel-Peters Is Proud of Having Four Parents
Nel-Peters’ parents divorced when she was a young girl, and both of them remarried. So Nel-Peters describes herself as having four parents.
Her mother, Anne-Mari Steenkamp, is an interior designer and landscaper. Her father, Bennie Peters, runs a hotel in Potchefstroom, the Sunset Manor Guest House.
Her stepmother is Elzabé Peters, a clinical psychologist. Elzabé has told South African media that she first me her stepdaughter when she was around two years old. She said one of her fondest memories was “walking around with her on my hip.”
Her stepfather, Johan Steenkamp, is in the building industry. Nel-Peters has described him as “the gentlest soul I ever met.”
She calls her mother her “rock” whom she turns to for support.