Jessica Simpson has seen it all, and though the pop star may seem as sweet as apple pie, her life has been way less sugar, much more spice. From scandalous rumors to infamous exes—yes, we’re looking at you, John Mayer—here are 50 facts about Jessica Simpson.
Jessica Simpson Facts
1. Papa Does Preach
Jessica Ann Simpson was born on July 10, 1980, to homemaker Tina Simpson and her husband Joe Simpson, who worked as a Baptist minister. There must have been something in the water in the Simpson house: Jessica’s younger sister Ashlee Simpson also followed her big sister’s footsteps and won fame as a singer. But it wasn’t always paradise…
2. The Marrying Type
As you’ll see as this list goes on, Jessica Simpson has an utterly deranged effect on straight men. When she met her famous husband-to-be Nick Lachey at a Christmas party, the 98 Degrees crooner was smitten at first sight. When he left the party, he reportedly went straight home to his mother and announced he’d met the girl he was going to marry.
3. Double Platinum Blonde
Simpson’s career and personal life took off when she worked with Sony boss Tommy Mottola. Her debut mainstream album Sweet Kisses went double platinum in 1999, and she went on a world tour with 98 Degrees, opening for her now-boyfriend Lachey’s band. Of course, Simpson’s rising fame also gave way to great controversy.
4. Like a Virgin
Simpson very infamously promised to stay abstinent until she was married; after all, her preacher father had gifted her a purity ring when she was just 12 years old. While her announcement matched her squeaky-clean pop image, it also put an immense amount of media scrutiny on her and (ugh) the status of her virginity. Simpson’s next move did nothing to help that either…
5. Put It in a Song
In February 2002, Lachey proposed to Simpson at last, and the young couple wasted no time getting married in October of that same year. Almost immediately after tying the knot, Simpson started work on “Sweetest Sin,” a song that envisioned her losing her virginity to Lachey on their wedding night. Um, all publicity is good publicity?
6. Daddy Knows Best
Unfortunately, Jessica’s father Joe was completely opposed to her match with Lachey, and he made their relationship a living nightmare. Joe felt that Lachey couldn’t really understand commitment, and he told her almost daily during their engagement what a bad idea it was to marry him. But on the day of the wedding, Joe took it to the next level.
7. Just Checking
Jessica Simpson revealed that just before she was due to walk down the aisle to meet Lachey, her dear old dad pulled her aside and asked her, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I wish I could say that was the worst thing Joe ever did, but as you’ll see, it’s definitely not.
8. Power Couple
In a move that no early aughts critic could have predicted, Simpson and Lachey’s marriage became a pop culture phenomenon. Their early reality show Newlyweds was a smash hit and turned them into bona fide A-listers—okay, high B-listers. In particular, Simpson’s “dumb blonde” moments quickly transformed into water cooler mainstays.
9. Chicken of the Sea
Probably the most famous of Simpson’s blonde moments was her confusion over whether “Chicken of the Sea” brand tuna was actually fish. In her immortal words: “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it’s tuna, but it says ‘Chicken…by the Sea.” Fun fact: This golden nugget happened in episode one. Iconic. But there’s one thing most people still don’t know about Newlyweds.
10. Hollywood Sliding Doors
Newlyweds was originally supposed to be an entirely different show. Way back in 1994, MTV actually developed the series for Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, but the star-powered couple dropped out. Years later, Simpson’s father Joe contacted the network to revive the show, and the rest was history.
11. The Unhappiest Place on Earth
The Mickey Mouse Club famously ended up producing some of the heaviest pop hitters of the 2000s, including Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. But few people know that a 12-year-old Jessica Simpson also auditioned for the show—only to be crushed when they rejected her. But that wasn’t even the worst part.
12. Lifelong Nemesis
Simpson made it far into the audition process for The Mickey Mouse Club, advancing all the way into the semi-finals, only to choke right at the very end. As she later confessed, she watched Christina Aguilera perform during her final audition, and got so intimidated at going on after her that she flubbed it and missed her shot. Simpson didn’t let her Mickey Mouse failure stop her, though.
13. Take Your Lumps
As a young girl, Simpson continued singing in her church choir, and eventually signed on to a Christian music label. The move gained her a bit of buzz—until she had to quit for a scandalous reason. According to her father, the teen Jessica’s breasts got so big that they ruined her wholesome act. Well, this is awkward. But even darker times were ahead.
14. In the Spotlight
With her looks and her voice, Simpson couldn’t help but hit the big time one way or another. In the late 1990s, she caught veteran music producer Tommy Mottola’s eye, and he started to market her as a pure, virginal pop star, in contrast to her more sensual rivals Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who had by now graduated The Mickey Mouse Club to sit pretty at the top of the charts.
15. You’re Perfect, Now Change
Simpson’s time with Tommy Mottola seemed glamorous on the surface, but she hid a dark secret. Right after she signed with Columbia Records, Mottola told the teenager she needed to lose 15 pounds if she ever wanted to be famous. The obedient Simpson quickly went on a starvation diet and relied on diet pills for the next 20 years.
16. Good Girl Gone Bad
In 2005, Simpson’s good little girl image broke forever. Her steamy music video for “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” came out alongside the 2005 film The Dukes of Hazzard—and promptly got banned in several countries. As I’m betting you remember if you’ve seen it, the video heavily featured Simpson writhing around on a car as her character Daisy Duke.
17. Newlyweds No More
2005 might have been a big career year for Simpson, but it also came with immense heartbreak. In December, she and Lachey officially divorced. Fans were shocked, but according to Lachey, Newlyweds had driven a rift between them. As he said, “Jessica and I began playing these parts even when we were by ourselves.” But there were even more scandalous reasons behind the split.
18. The Meddler
Lachey was reportedly “blindsided” by the divorce, and an unhappy Simpson dropped the news on him in the car after they were out for dinner. To make matters worse, Lachey partly blamed Jessica’s father Joe for the split. As Lachey later said, “Was he an influence in our marriage? Absolutely.” And the bitterness didn’t end there…
19. For Love and Money
Jessica Simpson later confessed her biggest regret about her marriage to Lachey: the massive payout she had to give him. According to rumors, Joe Simpson discouraged Jessica from signing a prenup with Lachey when they married since the boy band alum was worth a lot more than her at the time. This came back to bite her in a big way.
By the time they split in 2005, Simpson was a much bigger star than Lachey, and she reportedly had to pay him a whopping $12 million to finalize their divorce. Ouch. She later called him her “biggest money mistake.”
20. Big Brother Is Watching
Things behind the scenes of Newlyweds were truly twisted. In her memoir Open Book, Simpson recalls feeling like they were always being watched, even when there were no camera crews around. One night, she and Lachey even got into an argument in their empty house, only to walk outside to the lot next door and quietly scream at each other, just to make sure they really weren’t being filmed.
21. Bad Luck Charm
Jessica Simpson’s relationship with Tony Romo was very far from perfect. While they were dating, Romo played some of the worst games of his career, and many Dallas Cowboys fans blamed his new pop star girlfriend for distracting him. They hated Simpson so much, they even gave her the cruel nickname “Yoko Romo.”
22. Sensitive Sidepiece
Besides Tony Romo and John Mayer, there was another little-known flame in Simpson’s life around this time: her Dukes of Hazzard co-star Johnny Knoxville. Though they never got physical, Simpson admitted she had an “emotional affair” with Knoxville while she was still married to Lachey. As she said, “I could share my deepest authentic thoughts with him, and he didn’t roll his eyes at me.”
23. It’s Jessica, Betch
Comparisons to Britney Spears have haunted Simpson throughout her career, but one in particular hit painfully close to home. When she met her future second husband, NFL player Eric Johnson, he excitedly went home and told his parents about her. Their response was incredibly awkward. They asked him if she was the one who had two kids and who had shaved her head.
Nope, mom and dad, wrong blonde.
24. Second Time’s the Charm
Johnson and Simpson married in a lavish wedding in July 2014. As she walked down the aisle, it seemed like a fairy tale come to life—except for one big thing. Her husband-to-be looked incredibly unhappy at the procession. Simpson was suddenly terrified that Johnson hated her dress, but the truth was actually hilarious.
25. Side-Splitting Fun
Simpson’s children Ace and Maxwell were a part of the bridal procession, and Ace ran into his father’s arms as Simpson walked down the aisle. When Johnson caught the boy, his pants ended up ripping from his crotch all the way to his butt. Just after they finished their vows, Johnson whispered to Simpson, “Babe. I split my pants completely.” How romantic.
26. Mom Jean Mania
Throughout her career, Simpson has endured ridicule about her image with a laugh, but there was just one horrific time where she wasn’t in on the joke: her infamous 2009 chili cook-off jeans. When she performed on stage at the cook-off sporting a curvier frame and some admittedly unflattering jeans, the media wasted no time sinking their claws in.
The New York Post called her “Jumbo Jessica”—and the criticism had deep consequences. Simpson later revealed that it triggered a bout of her body dysmorphia.
27. Plain White Tease
After years of media scrutiny, Simpson’s body issues finally reached a breaking point. It got so bad that she wouldn’t even let her husband Eric Johnson see her without a white T-shirt, even when they were in bed together. Simpson admits that she “even showered with it on.” Such drastic insecurities about her body could only lead to drastic measures.
28. Under the Knife
Unable to take it any longer, Simpson eventually had a full tummy tuck to try to “fix” herself. Her doctor was against it, but she pushed for the operation and he eventually gave in. Although she doesn’t regret her choice, she also realized it didn’t make her much happier—but heartbreakingly, body image issues were the least of Simpson’s troubles at this time.
29. Self-Made Woman
Simpson may have a dumb blonde persona, but anyone who underestimates her is the real fool. Her fashion line The Jessica Simpson Collection has long been one of the most successful celebrity brands in North America, and it turned Simpson into a savvy businesswoman—not to mention the owner of a billion-dollar empire.
30. Walk Tall
Simpson stands at a tiny 5’3″ tall.
31. I’m Not a Dumb Blonde, I Just Play One on TV
At the height of her bimbo days on Newlyweds, Simpson’s mother claimed her daughter actually had an IQ in the 160s when she was in the fifth grade. If this is true, Simpson is a bona fide genius.
32. Country Strong Rejection
In 2008, Simpson took a total career swerve when she decided to try her hand at country music. It did not end well. Her honky-tonk album Do You Know was a total commercial and critical failure. When she played a country music festival in Wisconsin, the angry crowd even booed the pop star right off the stage.
33. Lasting Pain
Though her marriage to Johnson seemed happy, Simpson had always been hiding a dark truth. Ever since her tense, horrific relationship with John Mayer, Simpson had suffered from anxiety. To soothe it, she had been self-medicating with alcohol and pills for years, and her addiction made her hit several devastating rock bottoms.
34. The Breakdown Will Be Televised
One of the worst examples of Simpson’s bad habit was her infamous appearance on Ellen in 2017. At the time, audiences were alarmed at Simpson’s behavior. She slurred her words, couldn’t remember how long she had been married for, and generally gave nonsensical answers. Simpson later admitted the whole disturbing story.
In addition to being on other medications, she was drunk at the time. The interview is so embarrassing that Simpson says she can’t watch it to this day.
35. Rise and Shine
At the climax of her addiction, Simpson would start drinking as early as 7 am, and she even had her own special “glittercup” for her drinks.
36. Rock Bottom
It was only a matter of time before it all came crashing down, and on Halloween 2017, Simpson hit her absolute lowest point. After starting at 7:30 am and drinking all day, she not only missed her own Halloween party, she missed something even more important: getting the chance to dress up her kids for their big night.
37. The Road to Recovery
After the Halloween fiasco, she knew something drastic had to change. The very next day, her friends and family staged an intervention for the star, and she agreed to treatment and regular therapy to help herself get better. She hasn’t looked back since—even when therapy opened up another sinister corner of her past.
38. Coming Back for Seconds
Few people know just how messy Simpson’s divorce with Nick Lachey got. After the papers were finalized, Simpson invited Lachey over to her house “to clear the air”—and ended up sleeping with him instead. Oh, I think we’ve all been there.
39. From Boy Band to Boy-Man
Jessica Simpson didn’t sit around moping after her divorce from Nick Lachey, oh no. Nine months after the split, she started dating crooner John Mayer—and their relationship is infamous for very good reason. For seemingly ages, the pair were on- and off-again, and Simpson’s memoir reveals the absolutely heartbreaking ordeals Mayer forced her through.
According to her, it was always Mayer breaking up with her and then taking her back, and they broke up something like nine times throughout their steamy relationship. As she wrote, “I always saw it as him mercilessly taking me in from the cold.” Sadly, that was just the beginning of the nightmare.
40. The Right Words
Simpson confessed that while she was dating Mayer, she was so insecure about herself that she would spend hours upon hours agonizing over the texts she’d send him, making sure every word was perfect and all the grammar in place. In the end, it was never enough. Thing is, we’re not even done with the havoc Mayer wreaked on Simpson’s life.
41. Portrait of a Lady
According to Simpson, Mayer was “obsessed” with her, but this obsession had a chilling dark side. Mayer would apparently study her entire body and take photos of her constantly, so much so that Simpson confessed she “worried he was keeping souvenirs before dumping me again.” All I can say is…run away, Jess.
42. The Romo Rebound
During one of her more prolonged off periods with Mayer, Simpson started dating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and it seemed like she had finally shaken Mayer off for good. The stable, healthy relationship lasted a whole two years—right up until Mayer busted back into her life and royally messed it up all over again.
43. Big Mistake, Huge
Simpson swore she would tell Romo about every bit of contact she had with Mayer, but one day the singer came to a family event, declared his love for her in front of everyone, and begged her to take him back. But wait, there’s more. Though Simpson managed to say “no thanks,” she also didn’t tell Tony about it. This was a bad move.
When Romo found out, he dumped her…and she went right back to Mayer. GIRL. As anyone who’s ever been in love with a loser can tell you, this was never going to end well—but their final breakup took “notorious” to the next level.
44. The Words Heard Round the World
In 2010, Mayer gave a now-infamous interview with Playboy where he kissed and told. Uh, big time. In the article, he claimed he was addicted to Simpson and waxed poetic about their private bedroom life, calling her “sexual napalm” for the entire world to hear (and remember forever). Simpson’s response was swift and brutal.
45. Final Straw
After the interview, Simpson cut off all contact. “When he reached out to me, I changed my number and changed my email,” she wrote in her memoir. “Delete.” I think I speak for all of us when I say: FINALLY.
46. Father Fissure
Jessica grew up absolutely idolizing her father Joe, which is why his cruel betrayal hit her so hard. In 2012, Simpson’s father left her mother and all but abandoned the family for a period. According to Simpson, he had been planning to leave their union for a long time, and it took her many months to get over her resentment.
Of course, that was just the beginning of the drama.
47. Deadbeat Grandpa
To make matters worse, Joe told her he was divorcing her mother while she was in the hospital, just weeks before she gave birth to her first child Maxwell. Great timing there, Joe.
48. I’m Not Fired, I (Don’t) Quit!
After her parents’ separation, Simpson knew she had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life: She had to fire Joe as her manager. He took the news in the worst way imaginable. For a long time, he simply ignored her wishes and kept making decisions for her. As Simpson said, “I had [to] do it five times because he would not accept it.”
49. Friends With Benefits
Just days before her wedding to Eric Johnson, Jessica’s father dropped another enormous revelation on her. The newly-single Joe phoned and asked if he could bring his male model “friend” Jonathan Keith, who was a complete stranger, to her nuptials. Though Simpson initially balked at the request, she eventually realized she needed to accept her father.
To this day, Joe Simpson denies being gay or dating Keith. Jessica is likewise tight-lipped about his sexuality and has only said “That’s not something we talk about. That’s not my story to tell.”
50. Hidden Trauma
In her memoir, Simpson makes an absolutely chilling revelation. When she was just six years old, the daughter of a family friend assaulted her while they were both sleeping in the same bed. As she later recalled of the mistreatment, “It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable.”
Ashamed of what she thought it said about her, Simpson repressed the memories for years and refused to confront them for even longer. This repression helped drive her addictions, and it was only when she started going to therapy that she began to deal with the trauma.