An image of Nicole Shanahan speaking at an event.

Nicole Shanahan

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Updated May 24, 2024 at 02:26PM EDT by Zach.

Added May 23, 2024 at 02:05PM EDT by Aidan Walker.

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Nicole Shanahan is an American lawyer, tech founder and the vice presidential pick of third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the 2024 Presidential Election. Prior to her involvement in politics, she was known as the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and divorced him after he found out about a purported sexual encounter between Shanahan and Elon Musk at a ketamine party. Her involvement in the high circles of Silicon Valley and her political activism has sparked considerable online discussion, media coverage and even memes, particularly in the 2020s.


Nicole Shanahan started her career as a lawyer and tech entrepreneur, founding a legal technology firm in 2018.[10] She was briefly married to tech entrepreneur Jeremy Kranz, but that marriage ended due to an affair with Google co-founder Sergey Brin. She eventually married in 2017 and had a daughter, but Brin and Shanahan divorced in 2023. News outlets reported that Shanahan received a billion dollars as part of the divorce settlement.[1]

In the late 2010s, Shanahan notably worked on biotechnology startups and involved herself in activist work, during which she spoke at various conferences and events (example seen below).

2024 Vice Presidential Candidacy

Nicole Shanahan became known as a major donor to RFK Jr.'s 2024 Presidential campaign, funding a $4 million Super Bowl ad for the candidate in February 2024 (shown below). The next month, she gave an additional $2 million. Following her selection as a vice presidential candidate, she donated another $8 million.[1]

On March 26th, 2024, Kennedy formally announced Shanahan as his running mate at a rally in California (seen below).[5] He emphasized her "indignation" at big tech and "deep inside knowledge of how big tech uses AI to manipulate the public."

Since joining the campaign, Shanahan has posted and appeared in various political content. For example, in a TikTok post (seen below, left) from the @teamkennedy2024 account, Shanahan discussed her "awakening" with Kennedy and how she handles criticism from people who doubt or dismiss her. The May 13th post received over 2,500 likes and 29,000 views over the course of 10 days.[6]

Fan accounts of the RFK Jr. campaign also posted content centering on Shanahan, such as the account, which received over 46,000 likes and 467,000 views in the course of two months after posting a video about Shanahan's life (seen below, right) on the day Kennedy announced her as his vice presidential pick.[7]

Elon Musk Controversy and Alleged Affair

In July 2022, news outlets began reporting that a contributing factor in her divorce from Sergey Brin was an alleged sexual encounter between Elon Musk and herself at a drug-fueled party in 2021. According to New York Times reporting, the party was held in Miami by Musk's brother, and Shanahan and Musk did ketamine together and then "disappeared for hours," with Shanahan later telling associates that she and Musk had sex.[1] A Wall Street Journal article broke the story in July 2022.[2]

While both Shanahan and Musk deny the encounter, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal stand behind their reporting, saying the story has been confirmed by several sources. Musk denied the allegations in a post to X in 2022 (seen below), which resulted in a heavily memed thread about how he "hadn't even had sex in ages."[3]

Elon Musk @elonmusk Replying to @Whole MarsBlog This is total bs. Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night! I've only seen Nicole twice in three years, both times with many other people around. Nothing romantic. 9:59 PM Jul 24, 2022 Twitter for iPhone ...

On May 22nd, 2024, The New York Times published an article going into more detail about Shanahan's divorce from Musk. The virality of screenshots from this article led to posts about Shanahan, including the one (seen below) by X user @signulll calling her marriage to Brin a "heist."[8]

signüll *@signulll. May 22 she did cocaine, ketamine, & shrooms for 5 years with billionaires, cheated, and departed with $1B. this might the biggest silicon valley heist of all time. Ms. Shanahan has a fortune of more than $1 billion that stems largely from her divorce settlement last year with Sergey Brin, a founder of Google, whose net worth exceeds $145 billion, three people with knowledge of her finances said. During their five-year marriage, Ms. Shanahan partied with Silicon Valley's elite and used recreational drugs including cocaine, ketamine and psychedelic mushrooms, according to eight people and documents reviewed by The New York Times. Ms. Shanahan and Mr. Brin separated after she had a sexual encounter with Elon Musk in 2021, three of the people said.

Online History

Shanahan has maintained a Twitter / X account since February 2009 and has 43,000 followers as of May 2024.[9] She has maintained an Instagram account since the spring of 2013, posting regularly on it before and after her political career, and as of May 2024, she has 14,200 followers on that platform.

Elon Musk's Alleged Affair With Google Co-founder Sergey Brin's Wife

Elon Musk's Alleged Affair With Google Co-founder Sergey Brin's Wife refers to a rumor reported by the Wall Street Journal in July 2022 that the divorce between Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Nicole Shanahan was caused by a brief affair Shanahan had with Elon Musk sometime around late 2021. The allegation was denied by Musk, though the ensuing controversy led to much discussion online, as well as memes and jokes.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an American politician and conspiracy theorist running for the 2024 Democratic nomination for President. The son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy, he made his career as a lawyer and then became an outspoken voice against vaccines in general, as well as an environmental activist.

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