U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is making a name for himself both on the ice rink and on social media.
In early January, the 28-year-old became the first openly gay American man to qualify for the Winter Olympics and quickly found himself -- and his sassy, candid tweets -- in the spotlight.
“I've always spoken my mind and from the heart,” Rippon told the Associated Press. “I think America's just catching up. The other day I was joking to one of my friends and he was like, you're kind of everywhere now. I said, ‘I know, I'm like America's sweetheart.’”
His tweets have gained the attention of Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr. and actress Reese Witherspoon, in addition to nearly a quarter-million followers. He’s posted many jokes and inspirational messages from his account even from PyeongChang, where he helped the U.S. figure skating team earn a bronze medal on Feb. 12.
“It might come off as cocky, but I've been through a lot in my life,” Rippon added. “I've used my sense of humor as a coping tool. It's gotten me through a lot of challenging times.”
Click through to see how Rippon communicates with fans -- and “haters” -- via the social platform.
2. He called out Vice President Mike Pence.
In an interview with USA Today Sports published Jan. 17, Rippon responded to the news that Vice President Mike Pence would be present at the PyeongChang Olympics.
He said he wouldn’t go out of his way to meet with Pence during the games, based on the widespread belief that the vice president implied support of gay conversion therapy earlier in his political career.
After Pence’s team released a statement denying his support of the practice, Rippon fired back.
The VP’s press secretary issued a statement that what I said to @usatodaysports has “no basis in fact” and that my “accusations are totally false”. Luckily, I brought #TheReceipts ??— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) January 20, 2018
I will let the VP’s words speak for themselves. You can very easily find these quotes and more online. His position and intentions are clear. pic.twitter.com/XmH0v9pqua— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) January 20, 2018
The VP has had little effect on my own life. I didn’t speak up for myself, I spoke up because it’s important to give a voice to those who feel they don’t have one.— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) January 20, 2018
Pence has since tweeted at Rippon refuting the claims and showing his support for the athletes in PyeongChang.
.@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) February 7, 2018
WHEN YOURE RIGHT, YOURE RIGHT, @RWitherspoon ??? Also!! Quick movie idea for you: You (played by you) tweet me in the middle of the night at the Olympics and I (played by me) die immediately. Thoughts? https://t.co/2p9b11QxEl— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) February 8, 2018
He’s even thanked Witherspoon offline in an interview, elevating the actress above his mom in a tongue-in-cheek way.
"I owe this medal to my mom, but more to @RWitherspoon because she has more Instagram followers."@adaripp is a national treasure, we must protect him at all costs. pic.twitter.com/nlCsD9dy5K— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 13, 2018