Levi Keith Johnston (born May 3, 1990) is an American model and actor, best known as the twice-former fiancé of Bristol Palin and father of their son Tripp. He first received media attention in August 2008 when U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced that her daughter Bristol was five months pregnant with Johnston's baby and that the two were engaged. Ultimately, the couple ended their relationship, and Johnston and the Palin family engaged in several public feuds.
Johnston at the 2008 Republican National Convention (September 2008).
Levi Keith Johnston
May 3, 1990
Sunny Oglesby (m. 2012)
|Partner(s)||Bristol Palin (2005–2010)|
After working in the Alaskan oil fields, Johnston began pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, aspiring to be a model and an actor. He has written a book based on his experiences with the Palins, titled Deer in the Headlights.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Relationship with Bristol Palin
- 3 Media attention
- 4 2011 Wasilla mayoral election
- 5 Other activities
- 6 Personal life
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and educationEdit
Johnston was born in Wasilla, Alaska, the first born child of Sherry (née Sampson) and Keith Johnston. Levi has one sibling, Mercede "Sadie" Johnston. Levi attended Wasilla High School, where he played on the hockey team, but did not graduate. He worked full-time on the Alaska North Slope oil fields as an apprentice electrician, quitting in January 2009.
Relationship with Bristol PalinEdit
According to Johnston, he and Bristol Palin began dating during their freshman year of high school. After losing a promise ring on a caribou hunt, Johnston had Bristol's name tattooed on his finger.
Following the announcement that she would be Senator John McCain's running mate in the November, 2008 U.S. presidential election, Sarah Palin announced that her daughter Bristol was pregnant by Johnston, and that the two would be married. Johnston denied claims that he was being pressured into a shotgun wedding, stating, "We were planning on getting married a long time ago with or without the kid. That was the plan from the start." The couple's son, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, was born in December 2008, but the two broke off their engagement in March 2009. In May 2009, Johnston said that their relationship was improving and that they were determined to jointly raise Tripp. Later, Bristol began a child custody case against Johnston, seeking sole custody and child support.
In July 2010, Bristol Palin and Johnston announced that they had reunited and were engaged for the second time; less than three weeks later, they ended their second engagement.
During the 2008 U.S. presidential electionEdit
Johnston attended the 2008 Republican National Convention with the Palin family. While Sarah Palin was delivering her prime-time nomination acceptance speech, the cameras frequently cut away to Johnston and Bristol. Johnston shook hands onstage with Sarah Palin's running mate, Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, and was treated as a member of Palin's family. Fox News commentator Dick Morris remarked that McCain's decision to welcome Johnston to the stage was a good move because it would help McCain show "a nonjudgmental", tolerant attitude, while still sending the message that unwed teens who become pregnant should marry.
After his 2009 breakup with Bristol, Johnston gave a series of nationally televised interviews. He appeared on The Tyra Banks Show with his mother and sister, saying he wanted to dispel rumors. Remarking on Bristol's public appearances to promote sexual abstinence, Johnston told The Early Show that "abstinence is a great idea" but said it was unrealistic to think it is going to work for teens. In another interview he said that he was "pretty sure" Sarah Palin had known that he and Bristol were having sex in the family's house.
The Palin family denounced Johnston's statements as lies, with one public statement reading, "We're disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship."
In August 2009, Johnston speculated that Sarah Palin's early resignation from office was due to long-standing marital difficulties, the pressures of the job, and lucrative book and other media offers. In a September 2009 Vanity Fair interview, Johnston alleged that Sarah Palin initially wanted the couple to keep Bristol's pregnancy a secret and offered to adopt the baby and raise him as her own, but that he and Bristol rejected the plan. In response, Sarah told the media Johnston's statements were "untrue, malicious, and appalling", emphasizing that she highly appreciated her children and commenting that Johnston's photoshoots were "attention-seeking and desperate".
2010 apology and subsequent retractionEdit
In July 2010, a week prior to the announcement that he and Bristol were engaged a second time, Johnston issued a statement saying "I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true. I have already privately apologized to Todd and Sarah. Since my statements were public, I owe it to the Palins to publicly apologize." After the brief second engagement ended, Johnston said that he regretted issuing the apology, saying, "it kind of makes me sound like a liar. I've never lied about anything."
2011 Wasilla mayoral electionEdit
In August 2010, Johnston announced that he would be running in the October 2011 election for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, saying he wanted his son, Tripp, to be proud of him. The then-current mayor, Verne E. Rupright, responded that Johnston's announcement was a little early, and advised him to get a high school diploma, and keep his clothes on, a reference to Johnston's modeling career. Bristol Palin responded that she "never knew he had political aspirations. I'm glad that Levi has not given up on completing his education and is looking for steady employment." Johnston's manager stated he hoped to copy the rise of Sarah Palin from mayor of Wasilla to governor of Alaska, "creating a rural, Alaskan version of the Bush political dynasty." It was reported that Johnston's bid for mayor would tie into his proposed reality television series.
On September 3, 2010, Public Policy Polling reported that Johnston had become the most unpopular person polled in his home state, with a six percent approval and 72 percent disapproval rating, replacing former Democratic presidential candidate and senator John Edwards.
On August 23, 2011, six weeks before the October 4 election, Johnston announced through his attorney that he would not be running, citing his busy schedule promoting his new book. His manager stated that "Levi doesn't want the office of the Mayor to be a joke", adding that "there are a lot of issues that he would need to study up on and he thinks that this isn't the right time for him to be Mayor."
Johnston hired Anchorage, Alaska, attorney Rex Butler (who was previously best known for representing criminal defendants and handling civil litigation) to represent him in his pursuit of a career in the entertainment industry. The Associated Press reported in July 2009 that Johnston was also pursuing a movie deal.
Johnston and comedian Kathy Griffin attended the 2009 Teen Choice Awards together. She later stated that he was "surprisingly sweet and courteous" to her. Johnston and Griffin's acquaintance is documented in the sixth season of Griffin's reality television series, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Additionally, as a gag in her stand-up comedy routine, Griffin often referred to the acquaintance as a relationship, and Johnston as her boyfriend.
In October 2009, Johnston appeared in a television commercial for Roll International, makers of Wonderful Pistachios, as part of their "Get Crackin" advertising campaign. The commercial features Johnston, with a bodyguard, opening a pistachio as a voice-over states, "Now Levi Johnston does it with protection."
It was reported that Johnston would pose fully nude for Playgirl magazine; however, following a statement by Sarah Palin that referred to Johnston's "aspiring porn career", it was announced that Johnston's photo shoot would not include full frontal nudity.
Politico reported in April 2010 that Johnston was writing on a memoir "that would air the true story of the Palin household." Johnston's book, Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin's Crosshairs, was published in September 2011.
Johnston appeared as a celebrity coach to Logan Cummins in the pilot of a reality television show titled Mansformation released in May 2013.
Johnston married Sunny Oglesby (born 1992) on October 28, 2012. A month prior to the wedding, the couple's first daughter, Breeze Beretta Johnston, was born. Their second daughter, Indy Rae Johnston, was born in January 2015.
In popular cultureEdit
On September 28, 2010, Ben Folds and Nick Hornby released an album called Lonely Avenue, which featured a track entitled "Levi Johnston's Blues". The song provides an account of Johnston's story, based on actual posts Johnston had uploaded to his own MySpace webpage.
Alaska singer-songwriter Marian Call has said that "The Avocado Song" was inspired by Levi Johnston.
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- Staff writer (April 4, 2009). "Levi Johnston Says Sarah Palin Let Him and Bristol Share a Room". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
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- "Levi Johnston on Bristol Palin: The Ring's Off, But We're Still Friends". People. August 9, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- "Tactical Engagement: Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston Make an Art of Tabloid War". Newsweek. August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- "Bristol Palin Wanted Levi Johnston to Work 'His Butt Off' to Finish School, Get a Job". ABC News. August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
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- Hamm, Liza (April 3, 2009). "Bristol Palin's Ex Talks Sex with Tyra Banks". People. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
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- "Bristol Palin Says Abstinence Best Path for Teens". USA Today. The Associated Press. May 6, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- Staff writer (May 6, 2009). "Levi Pans Bristol's New Message — Tells Maggie Rodriguez Abstinence-Only Isn't 'Realistic' for Teens". CBS News. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Fleeman, Mike (April 3, 2009). "Sarah Palin's Camp Lashes Out at Levi Johnston for Sex Talk on Tyra". People. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Staff writer (August 11, 2009). "Sarah Palin Resigned Due to Marital Troubles, Says Levi Johnston". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Standora, Leo (August 11, 2009). "Sarah Palin Has Marital Woes, Almost-Son-in-Law Levi Johnston Says". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Schaller, Thomas (August 11, 2009)."Levi Says (Again) Sarah Did It for the Money — Former Son-in-Law-to-Be Is Becoming an Annoying, Broken Record" (includes video). Salon. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Staff writer (September 2, 2009)."Levi Johnston: Me and Mrs. Palin". Vanity Fair'.' Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- "Sarah Palin Rips Levi Johnston for Selling His Body". People. October 28, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
- Eunice Oh; Sandra Sobieraj Westfall (July 6, 2010). "Levi Johnston Apologizes to Palin Family for 'Youthful Indiscretion'". People. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
- "Levi Johnston Takes Back His Palin Apology". Salon. The Associated Press. August 26, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- "Bristol Palin tells Jay Leno that Levi Johnston need to go back to school". September 4, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2010. The New York Times.
- "Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska Reacts to Levi Johnston's Bid". US Magazine. August 10, 2010.
- US Weekly Staff (August 10, 2010). "Levi Johnston to Run for Mayor of Wasilla". US Magazine. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Natalie Finn (August 10, 2010). "Levi Johnston on Following Sarah Palin's Footsteps". ET Online. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Cristina Everett (2010-08-11). "Alaska mayor responds to Levi Johnston's bid: Get a high school diploma and keep your clothes on". Nydailynews.com.
- "Levi Johnston Mayor Campaign 'For Real,' Current Wasilla Mayor Belittles Idea". Huffington Post. August 10, 2010.
- "Bristol Palin Mocks Levi Johnston's Mayoral Run". US Magazine. August 11, 2010.
- "Levi Johnston to run for Wasilla mayor". The Australian. August 11, 2010.
- UsWeekly Staff (2010-08-09). "Levi Johnston to Run for Mayor of Wasilla". US Magazine.
- Max Fisher (September 3, 2010). "Levi Johnston Beats John Edwards as Least Popular Candidate Ever". The Atlantic Wire.
- Bohrer, Becky (August 23, 2011). "Levi Johnston: Too busy to run for mayor in Alaska". Associated Press. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Tereszcuk, Alexis (August 23, 2011). "Levi Johnston Not Running For Mayor". RadarOnLine. Retrieved Aug 24, 2011.
- "Playing Defense: You're in trouble. Big trouble. You need a lawyer. You want to see Rex Butler" (PDF). Rights Advocacy Project. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
- Dominguez, Robert (October 11, 2009). "Levi Johnston Is Working Out Six Days a Week to Prepare for Playgirl Shoot". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- U.S. News staff and Associated Press (July 10, 2009). "Levi Johnston: Palin Resigned to Cash In on Fame". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 10, 2009.
- McKay, Hollie (August 10, 2009). "Kathy Griffin's Date Night With Bristol Palin's Ex Fiance". Fox News. Retrieved December 22, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Condon, Stephanie (October 6, 2009). "Levi Johnston Stars in Ad for Pistachios". CBS News. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Moore, Matthew (October 6, 2009). "Levi Johnston Makes Light of Unprotected Sex with Bristol Palin in Pistachio Advert — Levi Johnston Makes Light of His Unprotected Sex with Sarah Palin's Daughter, in a New Television commercial for Pistachio Nuts". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- "Father of Palin's Grandson to Pose for Playgirl — Attorney Says Playgirl Shoot Next Up for Teenage Father of Sarah Palin's Grandson". MSNBC.com. The Associated Press. October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Staff writer (October 29, 2009). "Levi Johnston Doing Full Frontal Nudity in Playgirl" (includes video). The Huffington Post.
- Barr, Andy (November 16, 2009). "Sarah Palin: Levi Johnston Busy Doing 'Porn'". Politico. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Thomson, Katherine (November 16, 2009). "Levi Johnston NOT Showing Full-Frontal Nudity In Playgirl". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- Allen, Mike (April 25, 2010). "Mike Allen's Playbook". Politico.
- Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin's Crosshairs, September 20, 2011, Touchstone, (ISBN 978-1-4516-5165-2)
- "Bristol Palin, Joey Junker: Reality Star 'Smitten' With Snowmobiler". The Huffington Post. November 1, 2012.
- "Levi Johnston and Girlfriend Sunny Oglesby Welcome Daughter Breeze Beretta". ABC News. September 13, 2012.
- "Levi Johnston, girlfriend Sunny Oglesby welcome daughter Breeze Beretta Johnston". Daily News (New York). September 13, 2012.
- Words and Music: Ben Folds and Nick Hornby Make an Album
- Levi Johnston on IMDb
- Sullivan, John Jeremiah (May 2009). "He Shall Be Levi".GQ. Accessed July 21, 2010.
- Levi Johnston on NBC's Today Show. (video only). July 13, 2009. Accessed December 22, 2009.
- Staff writer (August 10, 2009). "Levi Johnston and Kathy Griffin Take Two: Flirting and Palin Talk on Larry King" (includes video). The Huffington Post. Accessed December 18, 2009.
- Staff writer (June 17, 2009). "Levi Johnston Weighs In on Palin Vs. Letterman Controversy" (includes video). Radar. Accessed December 18, 2009.