Whatever Happened to Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards?
By Mark Nobes, chief editor
Anyone who lived through the 1980s will remember Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, the English ski jumper who became an unlikely star after representing Great Britain in the 1988 Winter Olympics and coming last. In fact, he was the first brit to compete in the event since 1928. There is no doubt that Eddie's warm, down to earth personality and spirit has helped him to become much-loved by the British public. But where is Michael "Eddie" Edwards now?
Michael Edwards was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire on 5th December 1963. He was given the nickname of "Eddie" by his schoolfriends.
During his childhood, Eddie underwent a long period of medical treatment for his walking difficulties caused by a knee infection, at the age of 11 - doctors actually thought that he may never walk again, let alone ski! Thankfully, his treatment was a success, and in the mid 1970s he started dreaming of winning the Summer Olympics, and then in his teen years, instead, dreamed of competing in the Winter Games.
Eddie's first skiing experience was on a school trip to Italy when he was just 13-years-old, and after this, in the early 80s, he spent several months working at the Glenshee Ski Centre in the Scottish Highlands as a ski instructor.
Eddie worked as a plasterer before his ski-jumping career, and he returned to plastering in 2016 after being faced with a huge tax bill that took 90% of his earnings.
Before his Winter Olympics appearances in 1988, Eddie represented Great Britain at the 1987 World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.
During the 80s, Eddie was also an amateur speed skier, becoming the world No.9 and setting a speed of 106.8 mph. Also, he was a stunt jumper, and held the record for jumping 10 cars and 6 buses.
In his adult life, Eddie tried to forge a career in winter sports. His road to fame was full of obstacles, and after struggling with downhill skiing competitively and financially, he switched to ski jumping, which had no British competitors and was much less of a financial strain. He had no sponsor or coach.
Eddie also struggled with his glasses steaming up under his goggles, leaving him unable to see, which would affect some of his performances. He couldn't afford to buy new ski boots and had to rely on hand-me-downs, which meant he had to wear six pairs of socks to make his boots fit! To this day, he has never won a medal in any ski jumping event.
Eddie famously finished in last place in the Norman Hill Individual and Men's Large Hill Individual ski jumping competitions, held at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Canada. Despite finishing last, he held the British ski jumping record of 71 metres from 1988 to 2001, which he set on 15th february 1988. This has since been surpassed five times, and the current record is 134.50 metres, set on 17th March 2019 by Sam Bolton at the Whistler Olympic Park in Canada.
Life After the Olympics
Since becoming a star in the 80s, Eddie has made many TV and radio appearances, personal appearances and after dinner speeches. He commanded a fee of £10,000 for participating in advertising campaigns during the peak of his fame. He also devotes a considerable amount of time to charity fund-raising.
Eddie managed to acquire around £1.5 million in the first few years following the Olympics. However, Eddie was declared bankrupt in 1992 as the fund was mismanaged.
In his autobiography (first released in October 1988), Eddie Edwards answers the question "how did a goggle-eyed lad from Gloucestershire get to the 1988 Olympics, wearing the red, white and blue uniform of Britain?".
Sponsored by Eagle Airlines, Eddie set his sights on the 1998 Winter Games at Nagano in Japan. However, he failed to qualify.
Eddie married Sam Morton in the year 2003 and they had two daughters together. Sadly the couple separated in 2016. Because they had children, he was forced to hand over 85% of his earnings to his wife.
Eddie made several TV appearances during the 2010's, and appeared on Let's Dance For Sports Relief in 2012 and competed in the 2013 celebrity diving show Splash!, which he won, after being mentored by Olympic medallist Tom Daley.
In 2014, he was a commentator on the first series of The Jump, a celebrity winter sports programme which was hosted by Davina McCall and Alex Brooker. Eddie demonstrated the three ski jumps on the show. In the same year appeared in the second series of the comedy panel show Fake Reaction.
On March 28th 2016, the biopic Eddie The Eagle was released to cinemas and became the highest grossing British film released in the UK during 2016. The lead role of Michael Edwards was played by the Welsh actor Taron Egerton, and he was also played by Tom Costello (age 10), and Jack Costello (age 15). Eddie earned £180,000 from the film.
In 2016, The Express newspaper published an article headlined "Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards' living in a SHED and surviving off sandwiches". However, this was slightly misleading as eddie was living in a garden shed whilst building a new home in Stroud, Gloucestershire. He had to sell his flat in Bedford due to a tax bill.
In 2021, Eddie wore a rubber chicken outfit on The Masked Singer, which aired on ITV.
Eddie is currently a a ski guide and is a patron of the Ski 4 Cancer charity. He also gives lectures on cruise ships, and he is still very much in-demand for his personal appearances.
Visit the official Eddie The Eagle website