Michelle Kwan: Hillary Clinton's newest political ally

Former figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan is reportedly joining the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Who benefits the most, Ms. Kwan or Mrs. Clinton? 

Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports/file
In this 2014 file photo, former figure skater Michelle Kwan was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame during the ladies short program in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships

What does figure skating have to do with a presidential campaign? 

More than you'd think.

Michelle Kwan, a former figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist, has recently thrown her support behind Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, according to The New York Times

The new endorsement gives Mrs. Clinton a celebrity edge, but Ms. Kwan may be the real benefactor.

Kwan is no stranger to politics. In 2006 she was appointed as a public diplomatic envoy on behalf of the State Department's Education and Cultural Affairs Program and in 2011 she completed graduate studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 

In 2012 she married Clay Pell, then a White House staffer. Kwan campaigned for her husband in 2014 when he ran for governor of Rhode Island, citing his commitment "to a woman's equality agenda that strengthens protection in areas like pay equity, sexual harassment and domestic violence." 

The Times reports that Kwan will work on outreach efforts from Clinton's Brooklyn headquarters. 

Her support of the Clinton campaign will inevitably plunge her into the political fray – an ideal locale for the former athlete-turned-political-opportunist. The public may come to know her as Michelle Kwan, Hillary Clinton's star volunteer, rather than Michelle Kwan the figure skater. 

And this is likely exactly what Kwan wants. 

In a 2014 interview with the Daily Beast, she said “Figure skating felt very selfish to me, so public service has just felt like this total calling for me. Being able to be behind the scenes gives me the chance to bring about strategy to make our programs more efficient and figure out ways to get citizens to be more engaged around the world.”

When asked if she would ever consider running for political office, Kwan replied, “I’m definitely open to possibilities and opportunities in the future.”

Kwan's political career is largely unprecedented among female American Olympians. 

A Washington Post video showcasing athletes-turned-politicians features Kwan along with four other male counterparts, three of which went on to be US senators. Other media outlets have posted similar blogs and photo slideshows that consist of solely men. 

Clinton may be using this to her advantage.

A political strategist and campaign veteran, Clinton understands her unique position as a woman running for president will appeal to a certain segment of the American public. Kwan's volunteer work and public support sets a similar figure at the forefront of the Clinton campaign – a woman who has taken the road less traveled and embodies the American spirit of innovation and perseverance. 

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