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This Candid Picture Turned This Young Woman Into a Viral Sensation and Flipped Her Life Upside Down



The Innocent Photo That Ruined Her Life

Young Allison Stokke was a brilliant athlete and was well on her way to competing in the Olympics. But when a harmless photo was snapped of her at an event, it quickly went viral and turned her into a sensation — but it certainly wasn’t for her athletics.
The effects were horrible, turning her into an icon of desirability and essentially ruining her career in multiple ways before it could even begin….

Young Talent

A full understanding of what Allison Stokke went through requires some background. Allison was incredibly talented as far back as her freshman high school days in 2004, always managing to blow her fellow students out of the water with her natural abilities. She was on track to become the greatest young pole vaulter in the nation, but she never could have imagined what the future had in store for her.

A Record Breaker

At just 15, Allison was tackling records like a pro. She managed to break her own previous record with a jump of 12 feet 8 inches, but then broke that record again just the following year when she jumped 13 feet 5 ¾ inches! She was a rising star, which only made it all the more of a shame when her infant career came crashing down….

Natural Talent and Beauty

Allison’s parents were incredibly proud of their daughter’s accomplishments, but were also proud of the beautiful young woman she was turning into. They knew that she would accomplish so many great things in the years ahead of her, but they never would have dreamed that their daughter’s beauty would ultimately overshadow her athletic abilities in terrible ways.

Senior Year Approaches

As Allison entered her final year of high school, she imagined the amazing things she was destined for. She continued to set the bar high (literally) for her fellow athletes with her new record being 13 feet 6 ¾ inches. She was ranked the second-best high school pole vaulter in the country. Then — during one event — a photo was taken of her….

Capturing Her Athletic and Physical Form

It was 2007, and young Allison was waiting in-between jumps at an event. A photographer was making their rounds capturing all the action as well as capturing the in-between moments of athletes as they focused intently. The photographer snapped a picture of Allison. It was done with complete innocence and was just one picture of one athlete at an event taken by someone just doing their job. What happened after that changed everything for Allison.

Famous For All The Wrong Reasons

The picture of 17-year-old Allison Stokke was posted by a blog called With Leather (which had an audience comprised of mostly guys) and was featured in an article accompanied with a derogatory headline. The article emphasized her physical attributes instead of the sport or her athletic skills. Despite efforts by the photographer to have the image removed, the efforts were in vain. The photo of young Allison was already in the cosmos of the internet. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of her troubles….

A Website In Her Honor

Allison was rapidly becoming an internet superstar, but for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t long at all before someone formed a website devoted entirely to her, a place where anyone could go and ogle the young athlete. Social media groups were created for people who referred to Allison as their “internet crush.” Stokke was the focus of desire for many men (and even some women) — young and old. She and her family assumed her unwanted fame would blow over in time as most internet sensations do, but this was one sensation that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Catching International Attention

It wasn’t just the U.S. where Allison was exploding with popularity. Europe and the U.K. were talking about the “young athlete” on a daily basis. Even Australia was broadcasting about the American pole vaulter and practically raving about her on talk shows. Meanwhile, life was spiraling out of control for Allison and her family….

Taking Its Toll

While the internet was salivating over the image of Allison, she and her family were having to deal with the unsolicited fame. Her Facebook page was blowing up with friend requests, the vast majority of which were from men who didn’t care about her as a person. Her mother would pick up the dry cleaning only to have the attendant look at her ticket and ask if she was related to “that pole vaulting girl.” The attendant was Korean, which was yet another country where her daughter was famous for being attractive.

Struggling Through It All

Competing in competitions was becoming increasingly more difficult; not because of the athletic components, but because she consistently drew a large posse of spectators and “fans.” The gaggles of people were affecting her mentally as she had to focus knowing that eager eyes were staring at her — all of her. She found herself making sure that doors in her home were locked at all times lest some over-enthusiastic admirers try to pay her a visit.

What Do You See?

This is precisely the kind of picture that evokes two very different responses from two very different types of people. Some would look at this and see a young woman preparing herself for a jump. Others still would see this and think that she’s striking some sort of sultry pose, displaying her physical anatomy. Unfortunately for an aspiring pro athlete, the world was right now seeing her for how “hot” she was instead of how adept she was at her sport. “Hubba, hubba” were such phrases that so many men’s blogs were running with, instead of sports blogs and sites running stories about the next great Olympic athlete.

Attempting To Shift Attention

In an effort to try and erase this new stigma that was being placed on her and dragging down her career potential, Allison decided to simply not acknowledge the attention at all. Instead, she recorded a video that focused on pole vaulting techniques and uploaded it to YouTube, hoping to turn the attention back towards her achievements. It ended up having a very opposite effect….

It Got Many Views, But Not For Her Techniques

Her YouTube video ended up receiving well-over 100,000 views within just a few days, but people weren’t exactly viewing her abilities. The comment section wasn’t filled with things like “these are some great pointers,” but rather with comments talking about — once again — how attractive she was. Allison was growing more dismayed by the day, and she even contemplated quitting pole vaulting altogether….

Help From Her Dad

With his daughter’s attention still in full effect across the internet, Allison’s dad Allan (who was a lawyer) decided it was time to step in and do something. He couldn’t stop the spreading, but he could at least monitor comments to see if anyone was saying anything illegal or if his daughter was in danger of being stalked.

Famous For Her Looks

Allison was becoming more and more upset by her fame. It was her lifelong dream to be known for her pole vaulting — known and skilled enough to one day compete in the Olympics — but it seemed as if that might never happen. She had become the center of about 1 million search results, many of which led to sites that raved about how gorgeous the pole vaulter was. Nonetheless, Allison was determined to continue with her life.

Vaulting at College

Rather than allowing that photo and the attention to sink her lower, Allison decided to just plow ahead as she had planned. Following high school graduation she attended college in her home state of California (on a scholarship, of course) and continued competing as well as running track. But then her life seemed to be getting back on track when she decided to try out for the Olympics….

Trying Out For London

Once she graduated from college, Allison decided to disregard her past completely and pursue the dream she had been eagerly seeking since high school. She trained day in and day out, hopeful that her efforts would qualify her for the upcoming 2012 London Olympics. Would this be the moment she had been waiting for her whole life?

She Didn’t Qualify

Despite being one of the best vaulters in the nation, Allison simply couldn’t compete on that level. She was amongst 12 other athletes who couldn’t manage to clear the bar that was set just under 14 feet. For a while it seemed as if her career was over. But she’s found other ways to use her abilities that all point towards a valuable life lesson….

Modeling Career

After eight years of being known in a very unflattering way as “the hot pole vaulter,” Allison decided to finally just embrace her natural beauty and use it as a means of income in a classy way. As a famous athletic symbol, sports clothing brands were clamoring for her to model their products. Companies like Nike and Athleta were such companies that desperately wanted her, and it was then that Allison was finally able to come to peace with what had transpired following that photo…..

Unfair Attention

Allison has managed to get over the life that has plagued her for so many years and realize that all that attention was actually unfairly placed on her. She recognizes that there were so many other vaulters better at the sport than she was at the time, and she feels badly that she received the attention that should have been on them. But that humility has come with a life of pain….

Turning Down Offers

Allison has admitted that she’s turned down many chances to be on covers of sports and fashion magazines (even turning down the chance to go on The Today Show). She doesn’t regret turning them down since, after all, the fame was derived from her looks instead of her accomplishments. Is this stigma going to follow her around for the rest of her life?

Learning From the Pain

Rather than becoming bitter from the experience, Allison’s parents have noticed that their daughter grew from the pain. “I think I saw her grow up faster,” said her mother. “She saw how the world can be, saw how some people can be really cruel, some people can be great. I think she realized, ‘I can’t be so concerned about what everyone else thinks; I have to pursue my career and my dream and my sport.'”

An Emotional Journey

Going through something like this has taken its toll on Allison’s emotions and still continues to affect her. She described a time in college when students in her Sociology class had to write about a deeply emotional time in their life with the option to either turn it in or delete it. “And I didn’t share it. I deleted it,” she admitted. “I wish I still had that somewhere, because I think it would be very different now.”

Whispers of Love

In the midst of such emotional turmoil, there was a glimmer of hope on Allison’s horizon. During a motocross grand prix, Allison was seen with a guy. While they tried to give the appearance that they were “just friends,” there were plenty of sly smiles and laughing going on between them that people figured out there was more going on here. It wasn’t too long following that it was revealed what was going on between them….

Allison Had a Boyfriend!

After years of being emotionally drained from unwanted attention, Allison finally found someone who actually loved her for more than just her attractiveness. His name was Rickie Fowler, and he was 28 years old. Some people were concerned of the slight age difference, but they got over it quickly once they learned what Rickie was.

Two Professional Athletes

It’s typical to see two people from similar worlds be in a relationship, and it certainly applied here. Rickie was a professional golfer — in fact, you might have seen him play in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio! He’s played in the U.S. Open and is a rising golf star. However, Rickie’s own journey looking for love began just a few months prior with a viral picture of his own….

Shrugging Off Romance

In 2016, Rickie’s team managed to win the coveted Ryder Cup for the first time in eight years. During the celebrations following, all of his teammates were photographed kissing their significant others….except for him. Rather than make it awkward, he just jokingly shrugged it off. The picture went viral, with many (including himself) making fun of his own singleness. That all changed when he met Allison.

A Dedicated Cheerleader

The love between between the two athletes wasn’t just for show. They really supported each other. Allison was seen at many of his major tournaments and championships cheering him on, but she was also by his side for some pretty major life decisions he was needing to make….

Professional at Golf or Social Media?

While Rickie has a huge presence on social media, his coach wasn’t exactly pleased that he was putting attention towards that instead of improving his skills. In fact, he straight-up asked him if he wanted to be a professional at golfing or social media. Right there beside him helping him along through the ordeal was Allison, ready with advice about allowing personal fame to outshine natural talents. But it turns out that she’s trying to give him a little competition on top of being supportive!

A Club of Her Own

In order to get his mind back on the important things (since she knows all about how fame can ruin a career), Allison decided to give him a little healthy competition. She’s in the process of cultivating an entirely new set of talents after she threw down the pole and picked up the clubs. It’s all to help out her boyfriend, but she can’t shake the feeling that it’s helped her out as well….

The Person She Once Was

Allison refuses to allow her past to dictate her future. Through it all, she’s received a very unique and new perspective: “I feel like me and that picture are two different people. I feel it has taken on a life of its own. It’s like that picture is my alter-ego and sometimes I feel like I use it for a positive force, and sometimes I just choose to leave it out there and not engage with it.”

A Celebrity in a Negative Way

Alison acknowledges that she’s become something of a celebrity, though not for her accomplishments. Even to this day she continues to receive letters — some encouraging, and some that promptly go in the trash. At college she found out that her photo had to be deleted from the university website because so many students were clamoring for a copy of the picture signed by her. Through it all, though, she’s refused to bow to the demands of her “fans.” But how is she doing this?

Putting the Emphasis on Something Else

Though no doubt something like this would have completely ruined any one of us, for Allison she’s kept her cool through it all and is instead trying to use her own fame to make her sport more known. She thinks that pole vaulting is a rewarding experience, and so she’s striving to give it the attention that she thinks it so deserves. After all, before Allison came along pole vaulting was a very obscure sport….

Pole Vaulting Before Allison

If you had tried to ask the average person to name a pole vaulter before Allison made it big, they’d have absolutely no clue. Only true fans of the sport would know anything about it. In fact, it was just last year during the 2016 Rio Olympics that a “Hottest Female Pole Vaulters” list was actually compiled, showing that Allison had inadvertently turned the world’s attention to the sport. But was this actually a good article for female pole vaulters?

A Positive Move For Female Athletes

Though the “Hottest Female Pole Vaulters” article may sound like it’s doing the exact same thing that made Allison so famous for the wrong reasons, it actually has some benefit. While, yes, it does focus on the wrong attributes, it still highlights how “fearless” these women athletes have to be to compete in a sport that’s been traditionally dominated by men.

Her Wall of Protection

You may be wondering how Allison has coped with this all these years. Well, mostly by simply staying out of excessive public view. Beyond her modeling, she’s spent the last decade attempting to build a sort of shield around her in order to prevent her from becoming the celebrity that everyone wants her to be. She’s waiting for the day when she can pursue her dreams without everyone calling her the “hot pole vaulting girl.”

Her Recent Thoughts

Allison has just recently broken her silence on how she still feels about the issue. “Was I flattered? In some ways, sure. But I was overwhelmed, too,” she said of the famous photo. “I’ve never seen this viral thing happen to a male athlete who isn’t already the best at what they do.”

A Case Against Objectifying

Allison is proof that objectifying someone — even if done so without desiring harm — can have negative effects on a person. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging a woman’s beauty, but when you allow it to become the defining aspect of a person, it can lead to devastating results.