Lucky Breaks That Made These Average People Celebrities
The vast majority of us live normal lives, working regular jobs for a (hopefully) livable wage. Maybe we dream about becoming rich and famous, but we know the chances of it happening are slim to none. But then we hear these stories about simple people who do or say something outrageous, and suddenly everyone knows their name. The media goes crazy, their social media accounts are bombarded with followers, and they are suddenly awarded "celebrity" status.
So, what gives? How could something so ridiculous happen? With no clear answer in sight, we can do little besides puzzle over the qualifications for fame these days. Here’s a look at some famous people who became celebrities for all the wrong reasons.
Monica Lewinsky lived an average life. After graduating from high school, she attended community college for two years while working two part-time jobs for the Beverly Hills High School drama department and a necktie shop. In 1993, she enrolled in a psychology program at Lewis & Clark College.
Levi Johnston grew up in Alaska, away from the hustle and bustle of the lower 48 states. He attended Wasilla High School, where he played hockey. Johnston dropped out of high school to work full-time as an apprentice electrician in the Alaskan North Slope oil fields.
Bristol Palin is the oldest daughter of former Vice-Presidential nominee and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She had dreams of becoming a sportscaster, but she set that ambition aside when she became pregnant as a teenager. A tidal wave of media coverage focused on her pregnancy at the time. During an interview with Fox News, she claimed abstinence was not realistic for teenagers.
Nicole Arbour was just an above-average cheerleader when she began her cheerleading career at Humber College. She also led the school’s dance team, the Humber Hype, to two national championships. Her dancing career peaked when she became an NBA cheerleader for the Toronto Raptors.
Philip Morris & Co. originally introduced the Marlboro brand as a cigarette for women. To turn it around and portray the company as a man's product, advertisers created the Marlboro Man. The fictional cowboy attempted to trigger feelings of ruggedness and manliness in the ads. Many people modeled over the years as the Marlboro Man, but Robert Norris was the first and the most famous.
Courtney Stodden was born in Tacoma, Washington, where she experienced a wonderful childhood. She admits that she was quite spoiled as a kid. Her parents entered her in beauty pageants, and she loved to write music. The future looked quite bright for this young beauty queen.
Amber Rose grew up in South Philadelphia in a single-parent home. To help support her family, she began exotic dancing at age 15 under the pseudonym "Paris." She also admits to unsuccessfully attempting a career as a drug dealer. She eventually put her dancing talents and beauty to good use and started appearing in multiple music videos.
It isn't fair to say that Stedman Graham was just an average New Jersey resident before he met Oprah Winfrey. He successfully graduated with a bachelor's degree in social work before completing a master's degree in education. Standing at 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Graham unsurprisingly played basketball as an undergraduate. He is now a successful businessman.
Farrah Abraham must have lived a boring life while growing up in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The daughter of divorced parents, she was selected as a featured character for MTV's new show 16 and Pregnant in 2008. The reality series followed pregnant teenagers in different parts of the country.
Rick Astley was already famous for his song "Never Gonna Give You Up," which made it to the top of the music charts in 25 countries upon its release. By the time he retired from music, he had sold around 40 million records across the globe.
Angela Renée White would have probably lived in relative obscurity like the rest of us. Like many exotic dancers before her, she began stripping to pay for her tuition, but she ultimately dropped out of college to pursue a dancing and modeling career using her stage name, Blac Chyna.
Joey Buttafuoco could have just as easily lived an average life as an auto shop owner from Long Island. He attended Massapequa High School before beginning his body shop career. He was obviously in a less-than-ideal relationship with his wife, Mary Jo, because he started cheating on her.
Richard Jewell was just your average security guard who was assigned to watch over Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Jewell spotted a suspicious package during a concert to commemorate the festivities, so he alerted the authorities. The bomb exploded, injuring multiple spectators and killing two.
Having an inappropriate relationship with a politician is nothing new. Most people involved with a sitting public servant don’t even merit a second glance these days. Sydney Leathers was an administrative assistant for a local law firm when she decided to forward some photos of New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's, ahem, weiner.
The life of a county clerk is rarely exciting. Kim Davis of Kentucky took it upon herself to ignore a federal court order to issue a same-sex marriage license, which earned widespread criticism from left-wing groups. She was defeated for the clerk’s seat in a 2018 election, but that wasn't the last the world heard from Davis.
If Dan Bilzerian weren't a trust fund baby, people would probably think he was your average jerk. It’s a good thing he received a sizable trust from his father, because he has failed as a Navy SEAL and as a professional poker player. (He finished in 180th place during the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event.)
The Duggar Family
Unfortunately, some people become famous for breeding. Shocked by that phrasing? Well, what’s truly shocking is treating fertility like a measure of talent and giving parents a spot on television for choosing to have 19 kids — at last count. Apparently, TLC's 19 Kids and Counting didn’t see it that way.
The Kardashian-Jenner experiment should have ended long ago. However, the media can’t seem to stop focusing their attention on what Kim and Kanye are doing every moment of their lives. For some reason, people remain enthralled with the family and continue to support Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Life might have been quite different for the Kardashians if OJ Simpson had made better life choices. The media whirlwind that swirled during the Simpson trial exposed a lot about American pop culture, and it also thrust Simpson's attorneys — Robert Kardashian among them — into the limelight.
If not for his sons, LaVar Ball's name would have been inevitably lost in the annals of NFL history. He had a brief career as a tight end with the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers, but that influence wouldn’t have amounted to much without his sons, who became professional basketball players.
Thanks to YouTube, anybody has the opportunity to become famous these days. If the person is controversial, it could be a recipe for disaster or the perfect game plan. People like Logan Paul are the result when it succeeds. Paul earned his title as a famous influencer for posting ridiculous six-minute videos on the now-defunct video platform Vine.
June Edith Shannon
In any other existence, June Edith Shannon, better known as Mama June, would have lived a quiet life in the South. Then the reality television explosion happened, and we were forced — kicking and screaming, right? — into the world of child beauty pageants on Toddlers & Tiaras. That's when we were introduced to Mama June's daughter, Honey Boo Boo.
George Zimmerman was an average guy, a Florida-based insurance agent who was a devout Catholic with hopes of becoming a United States Marine. He ran into legal trouble a few times in his life. Authorities arrested him for assaulting an undercover police officer at a bar, and his former fiancé filed a restraining order against him at one point. Okay, so maybe he only seemed like an average guy.
Most people who grow up in wealthy households stay out of the limelight — crazy but true! Catherine Elizabeth Middleton grew up in a small village in Berkshire, England, and studied art history at the University of St. Andrews. However, her life completely changed when she met Prince William at school.
Lorena Bobbitt allegedly suffered at the hands of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt. She accused him of beating, raping and sodomizing her regularly. Some couples go through therapy to try to change things, some divorce and move on, some suffer in silence — and then there’s Lorena Bobbitt.
Kato Kaelin grew up in Wisconsin with dreams of becoming a television personality and actor. He was accepted to Cal State, Fullerton, where he created his talk show called Kato and Friends. However, he never expected his name to be associated with the most famous murder trial in history.
Nicole Polizzi, better known as Snooki from the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, is a Chilean-born Italian-American. She was the first of her friends to kiss a boy, which earned her the nickname Snooki after a male character in Save the Last Dance.
Even though she became one of the most famous memes of the 2010s, Danielle Bregoli's real name isn't that famous. However, once you mention the "cash me outside" girl, everyone knows exactly who you’re talking about. Bregoli first appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil about kids who are out of control.
If you're old enough to remember MySpace, then you probably know exactly who Tila Tequila is. She became famous by accepting friend requests from total strangers who wanted to know her based on her racy photos and exotic look. She eventually became the most famous person on the social media platform.
Before the internet, rich socialites were people who showed up at celebrity events and occasionally popped up in gossip magazines. Some of them possessed acting or musical talent, but that wasn’t the case with Paris Hilton. The reality television star is simply an heir of the hotel mogul of the same name.