Cole Saladino / Thrillist
Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Adam Rippon Opens Up About Dating, Unsolicited Dick Pics, and What He's Up to Next

Adam Rippon is here for a good time. 

This is something you realize within moments of meeting the 28-year-old Olympic medalist. The outspoken and openly gay figure skater soared to superstardom overnight thanks in part to his dazzling bronze-winning on-ice routines, a spate of wildly entertaining interviews, and a very public tiff with the vice president ahead of the PyeongChang Games. And he sure seems to be having a hell of a lot of fun embracing his moment in the spotlight.

Armed with the unshakeable confidence of a world leader, a razor-sharp wit, and the expertly coiffed eyebrows of a catalog model, Rippon has been charming his way into the hearts of America, and he knows it. In fact, that's sort of been his plan all along. Well, that, and the whole winning an Olympic medal thing.

Sporting glasses with oversized frames (“I tried putting in my contacts today and my body rejected them,” he said) and a similarly atypical amount of a facial hair, Rippon stopped by the Thrillist office as part of a whirlwind press tour in New York City to talk about life since the Olympics, playfully test his eyebrow expertise, and have a few drinks. And by drinks, we mean shots of questionable apple-flavored vodka and Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc sipped straight from the bottle. He opened up about his dating life, addressed his haters, and teased where you’ll see him next.

In a way I felt like I won the whole Olympic experience.

It's been quite a whirlwind since you got back from PyeongChang. How are you keeping up with it all?
Adam Rippon: I have been going non-stop since the day I finished competing. From that day moving forward, I haven't taken a day off, I haven't had a day that isn't eight or 10 hours. I've been flying, I've been doing photo shoots, tons of interviews. I'm exhausted but at the same time I'm really trying to enjoy this whole process after the Olympics.

How did it feel to be labeled "America's Sweetheart" overnight? Or would you maybe prefer a different title?
Rippon: So here's the thing. When I was at the Olympics, I was getting a lot of media attention and I was doing a lot of interviews. Have you ever read the book The Secret? Basically, the whole idea is that you have these ideas and you put them out into the universe. And when you put them out into the universe, the universe responds and gives it back to you. And so I was like, 'You know what? Basically, I'm going out and in every interview I'm just saying whatever I'm thinking. And in my next interview, I'm going to say something about being America's Sweetheart and I'm going to see what happens.'

So I planted a seed. I went out to my next interview and they were asking me a question and I said, 'I'd just like to turn the focus back to me being America's Sweetheart.' Two days later, I do The Today Show and I look at the prompter where it has my picture, and underneath it says 'Up next we have America's Sweetheart, Adam Rippon.' I did that. If I can do that, literally anybody can do anything.

How has all the sudden attention impacted your dating prospects?
Rippon: For the last little bit before the Olympics, I haven't dated anyone, haven't really been looking for anybody because I really wanted to be focused and really know that I was giving 100% of my time and energy to making the Olympic team, getting a medal, and really focusing on that whole process. Since being back, I get a lot of DMs on Instagram. Some being super nice and some being just like, 'Hey,' and then three days later... dick pic.

Which I think is, like, an interesting route to go. But I applaud the brazen attempt. And I mean, I enjoy it, so thank you. But I think that right now I have so much going on that I'm not really looking for anybody. But I'm meeting so many new people that I'm hopeful that I'll just kind of run into somebody.

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Besides Sally Field trying to set you up with her son, what's the weirdest request you've received on social media lately?
Rippon: Somebody sent me a message and they said, 'Can you please send me a picture of your feet? I'll pay you.'

Did you respond?
Rippon: No, I don't need money that bad.

But how much would you ask for?
That's what I asked. I wasn't going to do it, but I wanted to know how much. That is a fair question. At the very end of the day, I'm a business man.

Did they give you a number?
Rippon: Yeah, they said like $200.

I've tried so hard to just be me and not really worry about the rest.

What do you have to say to the people who are like, 'Who is this guy? Why are we celebrating him? He only won a bronze medal. He didn't get a gold medal.'
When I went to the Olympics, I think the best thing that ever happened to me was that I failed to make the team so many times before. So when I went into this specific Olympics, I said, 'I'm just going to go in. I'm not really going to care what other people think. I'm just really going to go and try to have the best time I can. I'm going to give every interview I can, I'm going to talk to every single person, I'm going to train as hard as I can so that I know that when I'm in the competition I can just deliver. And I'm just going to have a kick ass and awesome time.'

And I think I was able to do that and in a way I felt like I won the whole Olympic experience. I wasn't worried how it came off because I know that I treat people well. I know that I try to be nice to everybody. So I know that I was having the best time in the best way. But I think that there are so many people out there that worry so much about what other people think of them, worry so much about how they'll be perceived in a certain situation, and it's sort of like a new experience for them to see somebody out there just being themselves, enjoying themselves, having a great time, and being successful.

And so to those people who now know that or saw that throughout the Olympics and still aren't into it, it's OK. They're probably boring. There.

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

On the other end of things, what's the greatest message you've received from a fan?
Rippon: Some of the nicest messages that have really touched me are from either older people or younger people, but the message is sort of the same. 

When it's a young person they say, 'Thank you for being a role model for me.' And when it's an older person, they usually say, 'I wish somebody like you was around.' Which I think is crazy that when I've done an interview and I've been asked a tough question, I really have just answered it and I'm really mindful and thoughtful with what I say if it's something that has a lot of importance or is political. Because I think that as an Olympian and as an athlete, you're given this great platform, and it's almost like your duty to utilize it. I feel it's my duty. Not everybody feels the same. But there are so many young kids watching you and they're watching your social media. They're seeing what you're up to, they want to know what you believe in, and I think it's so important to really utilize that platform to the fullest. And I'm so lucky that I'm from the United States of America, that I represent the United States of America because we live in a place where we're allowed to do that. We live in a place where we can speak our minds and we can try to make change. We can try to change the world.

It's really exhausting being me, yeah.

You've received a lot of attention for being the first openly gay man to represent the United States at the Olympics. But being openly gay is not what defines you as a person, so how you have been able to handle and field all of these "gay" questions with so much poise?
I'm just very poised and I have so much class. Everyone's like, 'You're so classy.' And I'm like, 'Stop it.' But, I think that standing up for other LGBTQ people is so important, but I also feel that right now, given the attention I have, it's so important to remind people that a person like me or a personality like me isn't just for gay people, it's for everybody. I think that I'm funny to everybody. I'm nice to everybody. I try to make everybody feel included. And I might not be the typical face that you might associate with being the boy next door, but I want to help change that narrative. That the boy next door's also the captain of the football team, or the girl next door is the captain of the cheerleading squad. But it's also the gay kid next door who is trying to get to the Olympics in figure skating.

I want to change the narrative that it's that kid next door, that all-American boy, that all-American kid is so different, and it's all of us.

I know you're very close with your mother. What is the best piece of advice she's ever given you? And more importantly, what's the best piece of advice you've given her?
Rippon: I think the best piece of advice my mom ever gave me was that I need to give everything I do 100%, no matter what that is. That if I had a passion for something, I needed to give it 100% because at the end of the day, if I didn't do exactly what I had wanted, if I had fallen short, I would always walk away and have no regrets because if you've given 100%, mistakes can happen. The ice is slippery. Life can sometimes be hard. But if you give 100%, you will always walk away. 

The best piece of advice I ever gave my mom was, I won't answer the phone if you keep calling like 45 times in a row. Just send me a text message.

I love being in front of the camera. I love performing. I love telling my story.

You're obviously a very talented figure skater. But what's a hidden talent very few people know you have?
Rippon: I think a hidden talent most people don't know is that I have a knack for being late to everything I go to.

You were on time today, though.
Rippon: Yeah, but that's because I have a publicist with me who's making sure that I know where I'm going. Because did I know that I was coming here? No.

Also, you have great eyebrows...
Thank you. Is that really a hidden talent--

Well no, it's not.
Okay. Oh, this is the next question?

This is the next question, yeah.
Rippon: Sorry, sorry. We were drinking before this.

What sort of simple advice do you have for the average guy and their eyebrows? And who is your eyebrow inspiration?
Rippon: My eyebrow inspiration, one, is my sister. And then to the average guy out there, I would just say, pluck your eyebrows a little, but don't change their shape because I'm going to tell you a story of when I was 18. When I was 18, I thought I would look gorgeous with a dramatic arch. I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't right.

I've realized that the hottest guys just embraced their natural features. So I think that it looks best when you have your natural hair color. I think it looks best when you clean up your eyebrows, which means they don't need to go up to your hairline. You can have a forehead. Or, you don't need a unibrow. You can have two brows, one for each eye. And besides that, wash your face.

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

As a professional figure skater, you're jetting around the world, you're traveling, you're probably jet lagged. How do you stay alert and fresh and looking great? Like in the past week, how are you doing this? You're probably not sleeping a lot.
 No, I slept for like three or four hours last night. I slept for 30 minutes the night before. And I forgot my buzzer at home so I keep scratching my face in every interview, which is a little embarrassing but my beard is so itchy.

But how do I stay looking good when on the road? I don't know. I haven't had a drink of water in three days. I haven't washed my face since yesterday morning. And when I went into hair and makeup today, I asked them for just a touch up because I was still wearing my makeup from yesterday, when I asked for just a touch up when I had a full face already. It's really exhausting being me, yeah.

You've said that you're not really interested in doing on-air commentating, so what's next for you? You'll be going on the Stars on Ice tour soon, but after that, what're you interested in? What's your dream?
My dream? You want to know my dreams?

I do.
Rippon: All right. I have been so lucky through these last two weeks to be doing interviews on so many different talk shows and with so many different people and in so many different settings, like this one. I love being in front of the camera. I love performing. I love telling my story. I love hearing other people's experiences. I really like making people laugh. But there are so many open doors right now that I'm trying to do a little bit of everything to see what I like, see what feels really me. And the world is my oyster.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.