John Fetterman is Pennsylvania’s 6-foot-9, cargo-shorts-wearing Lieutenant Governor, who is vying for a spot on the U.S. Senate. Fetterman is married to wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman. The Fetterman family has three children and two rescue dogs.
Fetterman is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate following the Pennsylvania primaries May 17, 2022. He was nominated days after suffering a stroke. The nation is closely watching Pennsylvania’s election. Pennsylvania is a swing state with an open Senate seat. The GOP race was too close to call. Republican candidates included TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. The winner will fill the seat of exiting Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who will resign at the end of his term.
Here’s what you need to know about Fetterman’s wife, kids and family:
1. Fetterman & His Family Live in a Renovated Car Dealership
John Fetterman’s family home is an extension of his drive to revitalize Braddock, Pennsylvania, a borough outside of Pittsburgh. Fetterman was the mayor of Braddock before he was elected as Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor.
Design Sponge wrote in a feature about their home:
John and Gisele have an ability to see potential in even the most challenging restoration projects, and their home was no exception. Others may have shied away from the vacant building containing abandoned cars and boarded up windows, but John and Gisele immediately saw the potential of their Braddock address. Built in the 1920s, their industrial home was originally a Chevy dealership, and historically, one of the very first indoor car dealerships in America!
The couple was sold on the history and unique bones of the building, including the original concrete ramps used to move cars from floor to floor. They bought it, moved in and set to work. Over the course of eight months, they moved from corner to corner of the space, while their children befriended the contractors who helped the Fettermans complete the transformation. Today, it’s a restoration symbol for the entire community!
Fetterman could have lived in a mansion set aside for him and his family. Pennsylvania is the only state that owned and maintained a residence for its lieutenant governor, according to the Inquirer. Instead, Fetterman chose to keep his family in Braddock.
“Always said the people of Pennsylvania *never* owed me a mansion with a chef,” he wrote on Twitter. “Proud to live and raise our family right here in Braddock where it all started 20 years ago.”
2. Fetterman & His Wife Have 3 Children, Ages 12, 10 & 7; They Opened Their Pool to Kids in the Community
John and Gisele Fetterman have three children: Karl, age 12, Gracie, age 10, and August, age 7, according to his political page.
When they opted to live in Braddock instead of the government-funded mansion, they opened the pool at the State House to kids in the community.
“I am the only Lieutenant Governor in the history of Pennsylvania to REJECT living in a mansion-with a chef and gardener-that YOU pay for, but @giselefetterman opened up its pool to the children of PA,” he wrote on Twitter. “If my children were welcome to swim here, every child must be. In fact, I insisted the state divest itself of it and it has, to the benefit of Pennsylvania’s National Guard.”
3. Barreto Fetterman Was an Undocumented Immigrant & Became an American Citizen in 2009
Barreto Fetterman fled Brazil with her family as a child, and she lived for years as an undocumented immigrant. She told The Washington Post her background has made her the subject of ridicule. When she was 7, her family left a violent neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro and settled in New York City, living undocumented for more than a decade. Those feelings resurfaced after she experienced racism as an adult, the told the Post.
“It was a really long time of really living in the shadows and being really scared of every knock at the door,” she said. “To then being at a place where I’m so grateful that I can vote and that I get called for jury duty and I can finally belong to this country that I love so much — to then having these moments where I completely feel unwelcome all over again and scared.”
She got her green card in 2004 and became a U.S. Citizen in 2009. She and Fetterman were married in 2008 when he was the mayor of Braddock.
Barreto Fetterman shares her status proudly on Twitter in a pinned post from 2018, when her husband was elected Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor.
“Pennsylvania, your second lady is a formerly undocumented immigrant,” she wrote, adding a heart. “Thank you.”
She shared a photo of herself with her citizenship papers on Instagram July 4, 2020, along with a patriotic statement.
“Out of profound gratitude for my adopted country, I can only say that I would like in this land to live and die, and while I live to help other people as much as possible, believing that only in service to other people can I possibly express my gratitude for all that America has done for me. Peter Marshall said it but he took it out of my heart,” she wrote.
3. Levi Fetterman, One of the Fetterman Family’s Rescue Dogs, is the Official Dog of Pennsylvania
Levi Fetterman is one of the rescue dogs that are members of the Fetterman family. Levi is also a Twitter personality, with Fetterman describing him as a “Twitter emotional support dog” and the “Official Dog of Pennsylvania” on his campaign page.
The page says:
Levi is the Official Dog of Pennsylvania. He is also a Twitter emotional support dog, Gisele’s soulmate, and a rescue advocate.
We think Levi is around 4 years old. He was a chain dog and was rescued thanks to the great people at The Foster Farm.
Levi is vocal on issues that matter to him and to fellow Pennsylvanians.
ABC 27 reported Levi was underfed and living at the end of a chain before he was rescued and adopted into the Fetterman family.
“When we adopted him he was about 30 pounds,” Gisele Fetterman told the news station. “He’s 76 pounds now.”
4.Gisele Fetterman Made National Headlines When Someone Called Her a Racial Slur in a Grocery Shopping Trip in a Viral Video in 2020
Barreto Fetterman took a quick trip to the grocery store so she wouldn’t miss a sale on golden kiwis when she was accosted by a woman, who called her a racial slur on video. She typically only travels outside the house with an escort of state troopers, but “snuck out” on Sunday, October 11, 2020, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A woman recognized her as she waited in line and began hurling insults at her, which included racial slurs, Barreto Fetterman told The Washington Post.
She was able to film a piece of the encounter even though she was “still shaking.” The altercation continued after she got into her car in the parking lot. The racist incident happened at an Aldi near her home in Braddock.
“She said, ‘There’s that [n-word] that Fetterman married. You don’t belong here. No one wants you here. You don’t belong here,” she said in an interview with the Post.
In the 2-second video, the woman briefly pulls down her mask and says, “You’re a n*****.”
She shared the video on Twitter the night of October 11, 2020.
“*TRIGGER WARNING,*” she wrote on Twitter. “I love love love this country but we are so deeply divided. I ran to the local grocery store and was met by and verbally assaulted by this woman who repeatedly told me I do not belong here. The confrontation continued into the parking lot where I was able to finally capture it after the crying winded down. This behavior and this hatred is taught. If you know her, if she is your neighbor or relative, please, please teach her love instead.”
She reported the incident to state police, who investigated the incident, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported at the time.
5. Barreto Fetterman Is an Activist & Philanthropist, the Co-Founder of 412 Food Rescue
Barreto Fetterman is the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a non-profit that serves the Pittsburgh area. The organization transports surplus food from retailers to non-profit partners to prevent extra food from going to waste and to help people struggling with food insecurity. The organization’s staff and board page lists her as an emeritus member and co-founder.
She is also the founder of Free Store 15104, which distributes clothing under a similar method by collecting surplus and donated goods and redistributing them to those in need.
She is also the co-founder of For Good PGH, a program which promotes inclusion and diversity.
“Our mission is to develop and implement initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity, and create positive experiences for underserved populations,” the organization’s mission statement says. “For Good believes that we all have the desire to do good for each other, and works to facilitate these connections. For Good seeks to support interactions that demonstrate that giving is easier than we may realize, and that the impact is profound.”