This week in nostalgia history: Tonya Harding, Monica Lewinsky and more



Introducing ‘This week in nostalgia history,’ a new weekly column that delves into the wildest nuggets of news from the 90s, 2000s and beyond. We’re equal opportunists, which means the Bill Clinton scandal and that time Drew Barrymore flashed David Letterman are given equal weight. At a time when reality feels like something you’d like to turn away from, here’s a chance to look back at a time when a virus was just something you’d get after using LimeWire.

The first week of the year is *quite* a heavy hitter, with a few of the most impactful scandals and inventions happening right off the bat! Read on for a tour through this week in nostalgia history.


Britney Spears marries Jason Alexander for 55 hours, January 3-4, 2004

Two years after Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake called it quits, the singer (she was 22 at the time) wed her close childhood friend from Louisiana, Jason Alexander, for just over two days. Spears had invited Alexander to Las Vegas to spend New Year’s Eve with her and on the night of January 3, after spending the day watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre in her suite at the Palms, the two ordered a lime green stretch limo to take them to A Little White Wedding Chapel, where they were wed at 5 a.m. Spears wore a trucker hat, a crop top and torn aughties jeans.

“It was just so crazy, man,’ Alexander later told Access Hollywood. ‘We were just looking at each other and said, ‘Let’s do something wild, crazy. Let’s go get married, just for the hell of it.’” The two had reportedly been “friends with benefits for years,” (even during her relationship with Timberlake) and were indulging in so-called party favours that night.

Spears’s manager strong-armed an annulment, but due to weekend hours, papers weren’t signed until 55 hours later. By the early afternoon of the 4th, they were able to find a lawyer in Las Vegas, at 4:30 pm, the couple signed papers, and were divorced. The next day, Spears released a statement, saying she, “took a joke too far by getting married,” but in 2012 Alexander denied it, saying, “I was in love with her, I feel like she felt the same way.”


Tonya Harding has Nancy Kerrigan’s leg clubbed, January 6, 1994

The 2017 film I, Tonya perfectly captured the iconic story of Tonya Harding and her obsessive need for success which came to a head in 1994. On January 8, Harding won gold at the U.S Figure Skating Championship, which guaranteed her spot at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Two day before Harding won, her rival Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in her right knee by Shawn Eckardt, a friend of Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly. The aftermath was caught on camera, with footage of Kerrigan screaming, “Why? Why? Why me?” spreading like wildfire. The FBI launched an investigation into the attack soon after, with Eckardt admitting to the crime. By January 15th, Gillooly, who had masterminded the attack, surrendered.

Harding denied her involvement, but the allegations left her on the edge, and it showed. During the Winter Olympics, she stopped her performance midway due to a broken shoelace, the judges allowed her to re-skate, but she placed 8th. Kerrigan took the silver medal. By March, Harding finally plead guilty to her involvement under the charge of “conspiracy to hinder prosecution,” resulting in her receiving three years in probation and a $160,000 fine. Harding was stripped from her National Championship title and was banned from United States Figure Skating Association for life.


Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial begins, January 7, 1999

A year after uttering the now infamous phrase, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” Bill Clinton became only the second American president to be impeached by the House of Representatives on account of lying (perjury and obstruction of justice) about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, then a 21-year-old intern and Department of Defense employee. Lewinsky’s name surfaced during the discovery phase of a civil case against Clinton by Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones, who alleged he had sexually harassed her.

The affair began in November of 1995, which Lewinsky later let slip in 1997 after switching over to the Pentagon. Her co-worker, Linda Tripp, had secretly recorded the conversation and convinced her to save the gifts Clinton had given her during their affair, including a blue Gap dress that was stained with his semen, which were later used as evidence against him. Clinton denied committing perjury on account of the legal definition of oral sex was not encompassed by “sex.”  (Clinton claimed that certain acts were performed on him, not by him, and therefore he did not engage in sexual relations.)

The trial, which was meant to decide whether Clinton should be removed from office, resulted in an acquittal, a slap on the wrist and a public apology, with the president stating that he was “profoundly sorry” for his behaviour.


The iPhone changes everything, January 9, 2007

It’s hard to imagine life without smartphones, and Apple made history in 2007 with the advent of the first iPhone, a device described by then-CEO Steve Jobs as an extension of our most intuitive functions. “We are all born with the ultimate pointing device—our fingers—and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse,” he said.

The iPhone led to the end of standalone music players (RIP HitClips) and the rise of photography – and later Instagram – as a way of life.

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