Lolo Jones, track and field athlete, bobsledder, and former Olympian, has a net worth of $1.5 million. Born Lori Jones in Des Moines, Iowa, she attended eight schools in eight years thanks to her migrant family. Once Jones decided to settle and stay in her high school, her career as an athlete began and subsequently took off.
Jones will appear on the second season of Celebrity Big Brother where she’ll face off against stars like Tom Green, Ricky Williams, Tamar Braxton, Ryan Lochte, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about the Olympian-turned-reality TV star.
1. Jones’s Athletic Success Started in High School
Once Jones made the tough decision to part ways with her family, she stayed put in her high school and focused on her passion: track. Her coach and mentor, Coach Ferguson, arranged for her to live with various families in town, while she worked part-time at a local bakery to make some money as she pursued her dream.
Many Iowans helped her achieve her goals. A few teachers at Roosevelt High School made sure she took the right classes to get ready for college. An orthodontist in town reduced the cost of her braces, while a local attorney handled paperwork pro bono to assure she was covered by health insurance.
Her decision to stay in Iowa paid off. Jones was named the Gatorade Midwest Athlete of the Year and set the Iowa state record for 100 meter hurdles with a time of 13.40 seconds.
2. Jones’s Star Continued to Shine in College
In college, Jones continued being a competition beast. She won three NCAA titles and garnered 11 All-American honors while at Louisiana State University. According to Women Fitness, Jones was runner-up in 2002 in both 100-meter hurdles and 4×100-meter relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The site continues: “In 2003, Jones won the 60-meter Hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She was later part of the winning 4×100-meter team at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships. In the 2004 indoor campaign, she finished second at the NCAA Championships in both the 60-meter hurdles and 60-meter dash. In her 2004 outdoor season, she won the 100-meter hurdles title at the NCAA Mideast Region Championships, the SEC Championships, and the Penn Relays. At the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Championships, she won another national title as a member of the winning 4×100-meter team.” Jones is even ranked among the top-three women of all-time in both the 60-meter hurdles and 100-meter hurdles.
Despite her athletic success, she continued scraping to get by. To save money, she left the air conditioner off, a major feat for those who know the struggle of hot Louisiana summer days. She also held several different part-time jobs in college and after, which included a job at the Home Depot, a gig waiting tables, and a stretch of being a personal trainer at a gym. She graduated from LSU with a degree in Economics.
3. Jones Was Favored to Win the 100-Meter Hurdles in Beijing in 2008
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jones was favored to win the 100-meter hurdles, but fate had something else in store for her. In the final, as she was pulling away from the pack, she clipped the penultimate hurdle and stumbled, breaking her stride and dropping back to a 7th place finish. Teammate Dawn Harper ended up winning the gold.
Jones was seen on the ground close to tears trying to replay what had happened in her mind. “You hit a hurdle about twice a year where it affects your race. It’s just a shame that it happened on the biggest race of my life,” she said.
According to ESPN Films’ documentary Lolo, her error at the 2008 Beijing Olympics stemmed from a spinal issue. The doctor who treated her said the problem was so bad that when asked which toe of which foot he was touching, Jones couldn’t feel anything. The doctor said that since she couldn’t feel her feet, her brain wasn’t able to process where they were, leading to the stumble in Beijing. The athlete underwent a risky, but successful spinal surgery to repair the problem.
4. Lots of Jones’s Money Comes from Photo Shoots and Endorsements, Though the Athlete Has Often Received Criticism for Her Choices
While Jones is sponsored by Red Bull and Asics, the athlete also rakes in cash thanks to various endorsement deals and modeling stints. In October 2009, Jones posed semi-nude for The Body Issue of ESPN the Magazine, while in 2012, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine wearing a bathing suit made of strategically placed ribbon.
The response to Jones’s career choices has led to great criticism from some in her industry. “It reminds me of Anna Kournikova,” said Janice Forsyth, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario. “It’s really a sad commentary on the industry Lolo is in. Limited opportunities are there for women to gain a foothold unless they sell themselves as sex kittens or virgins for sale. I don’t know if this is Lolo being Lolo or part of a marketing scheme to remain relevant in an Olympic industry where if you are not the Olympic champion, you are nothing,” Forsyth told the New York Times.
The author of that piece, Jeré Longman, wrote: “This [media attention paid to her] was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign.”
Even her selection for the 2014 Winter Olympics bobsled team proved controversial. Emily Azevedo, who was competing with Jones for a spot on the team, threw shade saying, “I should have been working harder on gaining Twitter followers than gaining muscle mass.”
5. Reality Shows Pay Celebrities Appearance Fees and Celebrity Big Brother Isn’t Her First Reality Rodeo
In May of 2017, Jones joined the cast of MTV’s Challenge spinoff called The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros. She was eliminated in Episode 6, raising $1,000 for her charity Hurdles of Hope before leaving the show. Jones competed alongside other pros such as Louise Hazel, CM Punk, Tia Blanco, and Kamerion Wimbley, in addition to Challenge veterans like Cara Maria Sorbello, Darrell Taylor, Wes Bergmann, and Chris “CT” Tamburello.
Jones also competed on Dancing With the Stars against celebrities like Alfonso Ribeiro, Tommy Chong, Lea Thompson, and Jonathan Bennett. Jones was partnered with Keo Motsepe but was the first celebrity eliminated after her cha-cha-cha failed to impress. Jones wrote of her time on the show, “People are going to ridicule me. I’m so tired of feeling embarrassed.”