Who is Herschel Walker? Trump-backed Republican’s path from NFL star to controversial Georgia election campaign | US News


Former NFL star Herschel Walker is a Trump-backed Republican running for the Senate in Georgia.

His campaign focuses on family values, opposes abortion and is critical of absent fathers.

He has been described as “a hypocrite” for some of his views which are said to contradict events in his personal life.

So who is Herschel Walker?

Born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1962, Mr Walker is one of seven children.

The 60-year-old is a former American football running back who became a household name over his appearances in the NFL.

Mr Walker was one of the most sought-after college players in the country and became a football star with the University of Georgia in the early 1980s.

In 1983, he signed for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL – a team which would later be owned by Donald Trump.

He moved to the NFL in 1986 and built a career which saw him represent Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He retired in 1997.

He has previously talked about his struggle with mental illness, writing in his 2008 book, Breaking Free, about being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, once known as multiple personality disorder.

He wrote about his 2001 diagnosis and coping with as many as a dozen personalities he had developed as part of a defence against bullying when he was a child.

Abortion views and children

Mr Walker describes abortions as a “woman killing her baby”.

He has said he is pro-life and in August said he opposes terminating a pregnancy even in cases of rape or incest.

He has also opposed abortions that are recommended by doctors to protect the health or life of the mother.

However, he has since revised this to say he supports Georgia’s current status of a six-week ban with exceptions.

Earlier this year, Mr Walker acknowledged reports that he had three children he had not publicly acknowledged – though he later said he had never denied they were his.

Claims of Walker putting pressure on women to have abortions

Two women have come forward to claim Mr Walker got them pregnant and then put pressure on them to terminate the pregnancy.

At the end of October 2022, the second woman said he paid for her to have an abortion after a six-year affair with him.

Mr Walker had already denied allegations from the first woman that he paid for her to have an abortion in 2009 – and that she later gave birth to one of his children.

The first to come forward provided supporting documents to the Daily Beast, an online media outlet.

She said her allegations were supported by a receipt showing her $575 payment for the procedure, along with a get-well card from Mr Walker.

The Daily Beast reported her bank deposit records showed the image of a $700 personal cheque from Mr Walker dated five days after the abortion receipt.

“I’m done with this foolishness. I’ve already told people this is a lie,” said Mr Walker.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he said he would file a lawsuit against the news outlet.

The woman making the new claim spoke by phone to a news conference organised by attorney Gloria Allred in Los Angeles.

She said: “Herschel Walker is a hypocrite, and he is not fit to be a US senator.

“We don’t need people in the Senate who profess one thing and do another. Herschel Walker says he is against women having abortions. But he pressured me to have one.”

Ms Allred said the woman had years of documents, including receipts and greeting cards, documenting her romantic relationship with Mr Walker from the late 1980s through the 1990s. She showed some of these at the news conference.

The woman told reporters she became pregnant in April 1993. The former NFL football star encouraged her to have an abortion and gave her the money to pay for one, she said.

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‘Are you a hypocrite, Sir?’

She added she went to a Dallas clinic intending to have an abortion, but decided against it and left.

She claimed Mr Walker talked her into going forward with the procedure and drove her to the clinic the next day, where she went ahead with the abortion.

“He pressured me to have an abortion and personally ensured it occurred by driving me to the clinic and paying for it,” the woman said in a voice heavy with emotion.

Republicans have claimed the allegations against Mr Walker is a “smear” campaign.

The Associated Press news agency reported that a review of public records detailed accusations that Mr Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behaviour.

Read more:
Why we should all worry about America’s future
Why midterms are likely to have a profound effect on women’s rights

Herschel Walker and Donald Trump during a rally in Georgia in 2021
Mr Walker with Donald Trump during a rally

Why is the Georgia race so pivotal in the midterms?

Mr Walker is aiming to unseat Georgia’s Democratic incumbent senator Raphael Warnock in the election.

The results could see which party controls the Senate.

The Senate is currently split 50-50 – but Democrats have control because the vice-president can be asked to cast tie-breaking votes.

There are 35 Senate elections which could see the upper chamber change hands, but there are just a handful which are seen as being tight contests.

One of those is the Georgia race being contested by Mr Walker, who has been endorsed by his friend and former US president Donald Trump.

Almost 300 candidates have been endorsed by Mr Trump – 200 of them have repeated his anti-democratic lie that he won the last election or its results were seriously flawed.

Democratic opponent Mr Warnock serves as pastor at the Atlanta church once led by Martin Luther King Jr and backs access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare.


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