All About Michael Phelps' Golden Love Story with Nicole Johnson

"She's the glue that holds all of us together," the swimmer once said of his wife.
Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson
Photo: Getty Images,Design: Natalie Romine
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Mar 14, 2024

Michael Phelps and his wife share a love story worth countless gold medals. The prolific swimmer—who is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time—is married to Nicole Johnson, a former Miss USA contestant. While you probably are quite familiar with Phelps' athletic accomplishments, you might be curious to know more about his life out of the pool, especially following his retirement from swimming in 2016.

After meeting at the ESPY Awards in 2007, Michael Phelps and his wife Nicole dated on-and-off until 2015, when they got engaged. Michael Phelps' wedding took place the following year, shortly after the Rio Olympics, and today they share four sons.

Here, we break down everything to know about Michael Phelps' wife, Nicole Johnson, including their relationship timeline and their family today. Plus, we look back on rare details from Michael Phelps' destination wedding.

  • Michael Phelps is married to Nicole Johnson. They have been together since 2007.
  • Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson met at the 2007 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.
  • Michael Phelps and his wife Nicole secretly got married in June 2016 before the Rio Olympics. They hosted a second destination wedding in October in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
  • Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson share four children: Boomer, Beckett, Maverick, and Nico.

In this article:

Who is Michael Phelps' Wife, Nicole Johnson?

Michael Phelps' wife is Nicole Johnson. The 38-year-old model is best known as a beauty pageant queen. After being crowned Miss California USA 2010, she went on to compete in the Miss USA pageant, where she placed ninth.

Per her LinkedIn page, Johnson obtained a degree in communications from the University of Southern California in 2007. After her pageant career, during which she recruited competitors for the state of California, she went on to work in marketing for a Mercedes-Benz dealership. Now, she serves as an ambassador for the Michael Phelps Foundation, which aims to support water safety and physical and mental wellness.

How Did Michael Phelps Meet His Wife?

Michael Phelps met his wife at the 2007 ESPY Awards. At the time, Nicole Johnson was working for ESPN as an athlete escort, where she was assigned to walk with Phelps when he presented an award alongside Danica Patrick, a race car driver.

In a 2017 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Phelps revealed that he wasn't his future wife's first pick that night. "My wife was my escort here 10 years ago, [when] she was working with ESPN. It's funny, she always tells the story like, 'I wanted somebody different,' and I was like, 'Oh, thanks honey, really, really like that,'" he recalled. "She's like, 'Everything works out for a reason.'"

Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson's Relationship Timeline

Michael Phelps and his wife Nicole have weathered ups and downs throughout their nearly 20-year romance, all of which helped build the foundation they share now. Here's a peek at their relationship timeline, from 2007 to today.

2007-2015: Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson Meet and Begin Dating

Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson at the ESPYs
Photo: Joe Scarnici | WireImage

After meeting at the 2007 ESPY Awards, Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson began dating on-and-off for about eight years. In a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan, Johnson opened up about their splits, saying it was essential to get them to where they are now. "We both had a lot of growing up to do. We both had a lot of learning about ourselves to do. I don't think you can be in a good relationship unless you love yourself to the fullest and you want to help the other person become a better person," she explained. "We definitely needed that time apart to recognize that about ourselves and to appreciate one another."

February 2015: Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson Get Engaged

After reconciling in 2014, Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson were in it for the long haul. The swimmer popped the question in February 2015 and confirmed the happy news by sharing an Instagram photo of him and his fiancé lying in the show while she flashed her engagement ring.

May 2016: Michael and Nicole's First Son is Born

The following year, Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson welcomed their first child together, a son named Boomer, on May 5, 2016. The couple immediately made him an Instagram account to save his handle, unaware that he would amass such a significant following. To this day, the tiny tot has over half a million followers.

Summer 2016: Michael Phelps Competes in His Final Olympics

Michael Phelps with Nicole Johnson and their baby son Boomer at the Olympics in 2016
Photo: Jean Catuffe | Getty Images

The 2016 Rio Olympics marked Michael Phelps' last competitive performance. Despite being 31 years old at the time, which is considered beyond the peak for male swimmers, Phelps dominated at the games, bringing home five gold medals and one silver.

Johnson and Boomer were there supporting him every step of the way and were consistently seen rooting for Phelps from the stands. His incredible performance at the Olympics helped solidify his status as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

October 2016: Michael Phelps' Wedding Takes Place

Off his historic run at the Olympic Games, Michael Phelps ended the year on a high note. In October, he married Nicole Johnson—and we break down all the details from their destination wedding below.

February 2018: Michael and Nicole's Second Son Joins The Family

Boomer Phelps became a big brother in 2018. The couple's second child, Beckett Richard, was born on February 12, 2018.

September 2019: The Couple's Third Child is Born

The Phelps family grew once again in 2019 with the arrival of Nicole and Michael's third son, Maverick Nicholas, who was born on September 9.

May 2022: Nicole Johnson Supports Michael Phelps Through Mental Health Struggles

In 2022, Michael Phelps bravely opened up about his struggle with depression. He spoke about his mental health challenges on an episode of The Today Show, saying, "One day I can wake up and I can feel like I'm on top of the world and I can do absolutely anything and everything and the next day I can wake up and not want to get out of bed."

He went on to praise his wife for her support throughout his journey: "For 15 years, Nicole has seen me go up and down. There's no other person that would be able to support me like she has. She's the glue that holds all of us together."

Johnson chimed in, adding, "​​I keep reminding Michael that I'm not here to judge him. I'm here to support him. I'm here to love him. I'm not going to shame him. I'm not going to say you can't feel that way. But just making sure I'm there."

January 2024: Michael and Nicole's Fourth Son is Born

Phelps party of six! On January 16, 2024, Michael Phelps' fourth son, Nico Michael was born.

Nicole Johnson and Michael Phelps' Wedding Details

Nicole Johnson and Michael Phelps had three weddings throughout 2016. The first event—a secret vow exchange—took place on June 13, 2016. The intimate party was officiated by Phelps' agent, Peter Carlisle, who encouraged his client to get his girlfriend back after a breakup.

Later that year, after the Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps' second wedding took place in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Fifty of the couple's closest loved ones attended the destination celebration, which took place overlooking the sea. The couple's son, Boomer, served as a ring bearer for the special occasion.

On New Year's Eve in 2016, the couple hosted one final wedding party. The third event was a 1920s-themed soirée at the Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore Resort, where the newlyweds treated their guests to an evening of food, dancing and celebration as they rang in the new year.

Michael Phelps and Nicole Johnson's Children

While Nicole Johnson and Michael Phelps' children aren't Olympians just yet, the proud parents love taking them to sporting events, as evidenced on social media. In an interview with People, the athlete spoke about the importance of raising a tight-knit family. "As a kid, I always wanted to have dinner as a family but with my parents separated, that didn't happen often," he said. "I love how we have dinner every night together at the same exact time."

Phelps and his wife are also raising their kids to have open and honest conversations about mental health, which is a topic they're particularly passionate about. "They talk about their emotions," he explained. "It gives me a lot of hope. I just want them to be as prepared as they can be."

Johnson agreed, saying, "We don't hide from emotions. We teach them that daddy or mommy is having a moment and we need to either give them space or ask if they want a hug. And that's taught them they have permission for their feelings to be heard too."

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