Tonya Harding Scandal: Top 5 Facts You Should Know
There are a few facts you should know about the Tonya Harding scandal if you've yet to see the movie.
How much do you know about this sensational crime? Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the "Top 5 Facts About the Tonya Harding Scandal."
For this list, we’re looking at all the key pieces of information about this notorious figure skating incident.
#5: It Was the Biggest Story Leading Up to the 1994 Winter Olympics
First, let’s look at the basic facts of this tale. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan both competed on the U.S. figure skating team in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Kerrigan took home the bronze medal while Harding came in fourth. In the lead-up to the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Kerrigan was attacked after a practice session at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She was hit above the knee with a police baton in an attempt to break her leg, but fortunately, she only suffered bruising, and quickly recovered. The attack was carried out by Shane Stant, who had been hired by Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and her bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt. The story dominated both the mainstream news outlets and the tabloids.
#4: Tonya Harding Maintains Her Innocence
Harding and Kerrigan were fierce competitors, but despite the clear trail of evidence linking the crime to Harding, she has never admitted to taking part in the conspiracy, even decades later. She did plead guilty to “conspiring to hinder prosecution”; this means she found out details about the attack after the fact but did not report them. But throughout everything, she maintained she did not order the attack nor did she have any foreknowledge of it. No one knows for sure whether she’s telling the truth or not, and this has become one of those mysteries that will likely end up going unsolved.
In December of 2017, moviegoers will get to see this classic sporting scandal played out on the big screen. Sebastian Stan will play Jeff Gillooly, and Margot Robbie is starring as Tonya Harding. Interestingly, when Robbie first read the script she didn’t know it was actually based on a true story! This isn’t the first time this dramatic tale has been given the pop culture treatment. The scandal has been referenced heavily in TV shows like Seinfeld, Bojack Horseman, and The Simpsons. With the story being revived in the upcoming feature film, we can only assume it will be even more present in the public consciousness.
#2: Kerrigan Pointedly Rewore the Dress She Was Attacked In
According to Olympic tradition, the figure skaters of a country perform an official practice skate on the ice together. At the 1994 games, though, tensions were high because Harding and Kerrigan had not interacted since the attack, several weeks earlier. Forced together for a reunion, Kerrigan made a bold fashion choice which definitely didn’t go unnoticed. We can’t be sure exactly what statement she was trying to make when, at the practice, she donned the very same white lace dress she had been attacked in, but it sure stirred up some drama and put Harding on edge.
#1: Harding Threatened to Sue the Olympic Committee
In the aftermath of the attack on Kerrigan, everything seemed up in the air in terms of who would actually be competing in the ‘94 Olympics. Technically, both Harding and Kerrigan had qualified, but the big question was whether Harding would actually be allowed to compete. The U.S. actually had Michelle Kwan as an alternate in case the situation changed at the last moment. The Olympic Committee wanted Harding removed from the team, but she actually threatened legal action (with sources reporting a figure between $10-25 million) in order to be kept in the running. Ultimately, her Olympic performance that year was plagued with issues and she finished 8th while Kerrigan took home the silver metal.