Childhood & Early Life
John Wright Hickenlooper was born on February 7, 1952, in Narberth, Pennsylvania, U.S., to Anne Kennedy and John Wright Hickenlooper. He was raised in a middle-class family in the Main Line region. He grew up with two siblings: a brother and a sister.
Ever since he was a child, he was a “loudmouth,” as he himself claimed later. He was a skinny young child who was bullied by his neighborhood kids and his classmates. He was also shy and suffered from dyslexia, which was not diagnosed until later in his life. The fact that he was dyslexic was one of the reasons that made him an easy target of bullies.
He was close to his father but lost him when he was 8 years old. His father’s death left a strong impression on him, and he turned into an angry and bitter kid. However, he played soccer in school, and that led him to gain some appreciation from his coaches and fellow students.
When John Hickenlooper was in seventh grade, his mother realized that he was falling behind. He was thus transferred to a boys’ school. The school had very few students, and he was admitted there so that his teachers could pay special attention to him. However, the plan did not work.
He was quite intelligent despite being incompetent in reading and writing. In 1970, he graduated from the ‘Haverford School’ at the age of 18. His immense talent in other fields got him enrolled at the ‘Wesleyan University.’ He earned a BA degree in English and later a master’s degree in geology from the university.
John Hickenlooper took 10 years to earn two degrees, which was a rarity. However, while in college, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, which helped him put things into perspective.
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He had attended a course in English at ‘Wesleyan’ because he aspired to become a writer. He wrote his first novel while still in college. It was inspired by ‘Catcher in the Rye.’ However, he himself rejected it when one of his friends commented on its low quality.
In the early 1980s, he worked as a geologist in the oil industry, and when that did not work out, he decided to produce his own beer. He launched a brewery in partnership with some of his old friends.
In 1988, John Hickenlooper laid the foundation of the ‘Wynkoop Brewing Company’ in Denver, along with five of his friends. He received funds from family, friends, and the government. He also opened a pub in the brewery, which was the first of its kind in the country. The company became a success, and within the next few years, John was making millions.
He ran the pub successfully until he turned 50. After realizing that he was creative and could work for public welfare, he decided to enter the arena of politics and contested in the mayoral election of Denver in 2003.
When he took over as the mayor, Denver was going through a financial crisis, including a whopping $70 million budget deficit, and it was a big task to handle for a new and inexperienced mayor. John tried his best, and within the first 2 years of his tenure as a mayor, he eliminated the budget deficit. He also gave the green light to a mass transit project, which gave Denver a light rail system.
In 2005, ’Time’ magazine named him one of America’s top five mayors in big cities.
Denver was also suffering from a unique problem. The number of homeless people in Denver was steadily increasing over the past few years. He developed an ambitious plan for eliminating homelessness by the next decade. However, the plan was deemed a failure in 2015.
He had ‘Democratic’ leanings, but he was also admired by the ‘Republicans.’ In 2007, he won the re-election, gaining 88% of the total votes. He was termed by the media as one of the most non-political politicians, who was honest, hardworking, and dedicated to his subjects. He also came to be known as undefeatable.
He resigned from his position as the mayor of Denver in January 2011, in order to take over as the governor of Colorado.
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In late 2010, he contested for the chair of the governor of Colorado and won by 15 points. He officially started working on January 11, 2011. He worked sincerely for the people of Colorado. Back then, Colorado had a poor rating in terms of job creation, and John’s constant efforts ensured that Colorado achieved the fourth place among the 50 American states, in terms of job creation.
In addition, he also led the low-income areas of the state to grow financially. Hence, he made it one of the most financially sound states in the country.
In 2014, he was appointed as the chairman of the ‘National Governors’ Association.’ Earlier, in 2012, he had also served as the vice chairman of the ‘Democratic Governors’ Association.’ He stayed in this position until 2018 and did not participate in the re-election, as only two terms of governorship are allowed by the American constitution.
In 2019, he announced that he would be contesting for the ‘Democratic Party’ in the presidential election of 2020. In March 2019, he officially announced his campaign. However, it had been speculated by the media months before he had announced his candidacy. Later, he realized that there were many candidates before him and it was highly unlikely for him to be nominated as the ‘Democratic Party’s candidate. Hence, he uploaded a ‘YouTube’ video in August 2019, announcing that he was not in the race anymore.
Around the same time, he also announced that he was going to run for the ‘United States Senate’ in the 2020 elections. Early polling data proved that he was the public’s favorite candidate for the senator from Colorado. On June 30, 2020, it was officially announced that he was the main opponent of the ‘Republican Party’s Cory Gardener. Cory is the incumbent senator and is extremely popular with the masses.
Family & Personal Life
John Hickenlooper married Helen Thorpe in 2002. She is an author and has written articles for leading publications such as ‘The New York Times.’ They had a son together and lived in their own house in Denver, instead of moving to the governor’s mansion. In 2012, the couple divorced. Following this, John moved into the governor’s mansion.
In 2016, John Hickenlooper married Robin Pringle. He was 64 years old back then.
John has been an accomplished squash player since his younger years, and he still competes in the national squash competitions.
John Hickenlooper suffers from prosopagnosia, the inability to remember faces.