Todd Palin, the champion snow machine racer, former oil worker and one-time “First Dude” of Alaska, has filed for divorce from former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, according to a report by the Anchorage Daily News.
According to the publication, Palin filed for divorce from his wife of 31 years on Friday, September 6, in Anchorage Superior Court. He cited “incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.” The divorce filing used their initials, not their real names, but they were identifiable because of the mention of their son, Trig. Trig is their fifth and youngest child, and the only minor in their family.
Throughout Sarah Palin’s controversial political career, Todd Palin stood as a quiet but seemingly steady supporter at her side whose blue collar biography seemed a prototypical Alaskan; he has also worked as a commercial fisherman and is a four-time champion of the Tesoro Iron Dog snow machine race.
In the divorce filing, Todd asks for joint legal custody of Trig, who has Down Syndrome.
Sarah has not given a statement on the divorce, nor has her estranged husband. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Todd Palin, the Former ‘First Dude’ of Alaska, Is an Avid Outdoorsman Who Once Suffered Serious Injuries in a Snow Machine Crash & Worked on the North Slope
Sarah Palin served as the Governor of Alaska from 2006-2009. She’s also most famous for running as a vice-presidential candidate with Republican presidential nominee John McCain in the 2008 election. They lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Though Sarah has kept a low profile in recent years, she’s still stayed in the public eye through her various book tours and speaking/publicity events. As seen in the photo above, Todd has often been by Sarah’s side at these events in recent years. During her stint as governor, Todd was affectionately known as “first man” or “first dude” of the state; but in his own right, he works in oil field production.
He also is an avid outdoorsman, and a notable athlete. He has competed in Alaska’s Iron Dog Race, a 2,000-mile snowmobile race, at least 25 times, according to a post by Sarah on Instagram.
In 2016, Todd suffered a serious crash in the Iron Dog snow machine race; according to CNN, he suffered “multiple injuries, including broken and fractured ribs, a broken shoulder blade, a broken clavicle, leg injuries and a collapsed lung.” Initially in intensive care, he eventually recovered from the injuries.
Outside Alaska, snow machines are called snowmobiles, but Sarah Palin once explained, “Up here, it’s a snow machine.”
Sarah Palin once famously said that such snow machine races are not for “girly men.” The Iron Dog is the world’s longest snowmobile race. In a Facebook post, Sarah described the race this way: “Racers brave blizzards in pitch blackness atop frozen rivers to do their barehanded repairs of shocks, tracks, engines or anything else that gets thrashed during this crazy-tough endurance competition; they skip open Arctic waters between Native villages; they dodge wild animals throughout the 2030-mile extreme adventure that ends next Sunday in Fairbanks.”
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Todd Palin spent 20 years in the North Slope oil fields and also caught Salmon in Bristol Bay. He was born in Dillingham, Alaska. When Sarah was governor, he championed oil and gas industry jobs for youth, telling the newspaper, “For those of us who learn by touching and tearing stuff apart and for those who don’t have the financial background to go to college, just being a product of that on-the-job training is really important.”
Palin doesn’t have a college degree but once earned more than $100,000 as an oil worker, Daily News reported.
2. Todd & Sarah Were High School Sweethearts & They Have Five Children Together
Todd Palin married Sarah, then known as Sarah Heath, in 1988. They were high school sweethearts who eloped after college, according to an archived article by The Christian Science Monitor. Over their 31 years of marriage, they had five kids together: Track Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig. They also have at least five grandchildren.
Sarah gave birth to her last child, Trig, in 2008. She shared that Trig had special needs, and that they’d known through early testing that he would.
In an interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20, Todd sat next to his wife for portions, and both of them talked at length about their love for their youngest son. Todd said at one point, “I was very excited — another baby in our family. And when she told me that our child might have Down syndrome, I asked myself, I just, I said, ‘Why not us? Our family is never one to have that, you know …want anybody to feel sorry for us. I knew that our family was strong and would be able to handle whatever was thrown at us.”
He added, “He’ll be able to do everything that our — that all of our other children have done with us.”
Todd also had something to say about the stigmas that exist around children living with special needs. “They are just beautiful gifts from God for all of us to learn from … and to make us stronger as we live,” he told Walters. “He is just another kid in our house. … But he has, but he has just been a blast.”
3. Todd Palin Is of Yu’pik Eskimo Ancestry & He Once Described Himself as ‘Mr. Mom’
Though Todd doesn’t have a very robust social media presence, his wife has shared many photos of their marriage and their children on her Instagram.
In August 2018, Sarah shared a photo of the two of them for their 30th wedding anniversary, writing, “oh that’s right! Yesterday was our 30th❤️Happy Anniversary TMP!❤️❤️❤️ (how you look the same, all these years Todd?!)”
The couple have rarely spoken publicly about one another over the years, despite their rise to fame under the public eye after Palin became governor. However, there are a few articles from that time period in which they did acknowledge their affection for one another.
Palin said in a speech before the Republican National Convention in 2008, “Todd is now a world-champion snow-machine racer…Throw in his Yupik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for a quite a package. And we met in high school, and two decades and five children later, he’s still my guy.”
According to Reznet, Todd Palin is 1/16th Yu’pik and has a Yu’pik grandmother. His mother, Blanche Palin, once served as secretary of the Alaska Federation of Natives, the state’s largest Native organization, the site reported. He was born to Blanche (then Kallstrom) and Jim Palin.
McClatchy reported that Todd Palin’s grandmother was named Lena Andree and grew up “living between two worlds.” Her father was a Dutchman and “sled-dog freighter” and her mother was a full-blooded Yup’ik who served as a translator.
Todd’s parents are divorced and his grandmother told the news site he was “always doing something” and “never likes to just sit down and talk.”
A family friend told People Magazine in 2008, “He gets asked about how he feels about people fawning over his wife and he shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘She’s being Sarah and I’m being Mr. Mom.’ ”
4. Todd Palin Was Injured During a Domestic Violence Incident Involving Their Oldest Son in 2017
Todd & Sarah’s oldest son, Track has been arrested three times in approximately three years for domestic violence-related charges. In 2017, one such charge came after Sarah called the authorities to report that her son was behaving strangely, The Washington Post reports.
A police affidavit reported Sarah as having said on the phone that her son was “freaking out and was on some type of medication.” When authorities arrived on the scene, they found Todd bleeding from the head, the publication reports.
The affidavit further stated that Track had broken a window to get inside of the Palin residence and had assaulted his father upon entering. Authorities eventually detained Track; per The Washington Post, Track later told authorities that his father had pointed a gun at him through a window of the house when he’d first arrived.
The affidavit reads in part,
“Track stated he told Todd to shoot him several times. Track said Todd tapped the barrel of the gun on the window so he punched the window breaking the window. Track stated he then went through the broken window and disarmed Todd and put him on the ground…Todd sustained injuries to his face and head in direct result of being hit by Track’s fists. Todd had blood from several cuts on his head and had liquid coming from his ear.”
Following news of the incident, a rep for the Palins released the following statement: “Given the nature of actions addressed [Saturday] night by law enforcement and the charges involved, the Palins are unable to comment further. They ask that the family’s privacy is respected during this challenging situation just as others dealing with a struggling family member would also request.”
5. A Book Described Difficulties in the Couple’s Marriage in 2011 But Sarah Palin Criticized the Author
In 2011, rumors of a divorce filing between Todd and Sarah Palin circulated through the internet, amid the release of a book written by Joe McGinniss about the former governor. The book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, alleged that Sarah had engaged in a romantic affair with her husband’s longtime former business partner.
McGinniss was a neighbor to the Palins for a period of time; during that time, Sarah took to Facebook to accuse the writer of peeping on her daughter, Piper. She wrote,”Here he is – about 15 feet away on the neighbor’s rented deck overlooking my children’s play area and my kitchen window. Wonder what kind of material he’ll gather while overlooking Piper’s bedroom, my little garden, and the family’s swimming hole?”
Per CBS News, McGinnis responded to Palin’s comments by calling them “revolting.” He said, “I’m not observing them at all. I’m here to talk to people who’ve known them for forty years in Wasilla. I don’t care how they behave in their backyard. And I don’t care what they do in the privacy of their own home. And I don’t care what their children do.”
He added, “If I lived here and did something creepy, if I did what Sarah Palin is suggesting that I moved here because I had some desire to do, that would be creepy.”
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