It came down to logistics. Olympian Michael Phelps explained exactly why he married Nicole Johnson before the 2016 Rio Olympics this past summer, and the reason for the secret ceremony was super simple.
In a new interview with USA Today, Phelps said it had to do with their baby son Boomer’s last name, “Phelps,” which could have potentially caused travel issues for Johnson en route to Brazil.
“We wanted to try to make it as smooth as we could for them to travel,” the record-setting Olympian expressed. So, Phelps married his fiancee in a private backyard ceremony in June, and she subsequently changed her last name to Phelps.
“It was small,” the athlete recalled to the paper on Monday. “It was our closest friends and family there. It was perfect.”
The news broke in late October that Phelps and Johnson had legally married and tricked everyone throughout the Olympics. “I’ve been married for a while,” Phelps confirmed the following day via Facebook Live. “I had to keep it secret from y’all. I had to keep it hush-hush from you guys… Nicole and I are married. We are officially married.”
That same weekend, the couple wed in a second, formal wedding ceremony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The bride, who has since changed her Instagram handle to “Mrs. Nicole Phelps,” looked resplendent in a one-of-a-kind piece by Israeli designer Julie Vino.
In an exclusive interview with The Knot, Vino revealed that the former Miss California personally sought her out to design the gown. “Nicole had been following my work for a while apparently,” Vino said. “Very flattering. And she actually approached me about a year ago to design her dress.”
The bride opted for a white, lace, silk-chiffon gown that included a demure slit. “She wasn’t interested in a traditional bridal gown,” Vino recalled. “[Nicole] wanted something that was going to stand out.”
Phelps, meanwhile, confirmed—yet again— to USA Today on Monday that he has made himself officially ineligible to return as a competitor in the next Olympics. “I said to [my longtime agent] Peter [Carlisle], I was like, ‘Get the papers, can we just sign these things, so I don’t have to do the daily updates and everything?’” Phelps recalled of his September decision. “It’s good. I’m still in the pool. I’m still not coming back.”