Robert F Kennedy Jr announces Google founder’s ex-wife Nicole Shanahan as his running mate

Robert F Kennedy Jr has announced Nicole Shanahan, the rags-to-riches Silicon Valley lawyer, as his running mate for his 2024 presidential bid.

Ms Shanahan, 38, is the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin and has already donated $4.5 million (£3.6 million) to a super PAC backing Mr Kennedy Jr over the past year.

The independent candidate revealed Ms Shanahan as his vice-president pick at a press conference in Oakland, California, where she grew up.

“I’m so proud to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States, my fellow lawyer, a brilliant scientist, technologist, a fierce warrior mum”, Mr Kennedy said on Tuesday. 

Mr Kennedy Jr is picking a running mate now because about half of the states require him to designate one before he can apply for ballot access.

Ms Shanahan’s spot on the ticket will allow the mother of one to contribute directly to the campaign without limitations.

Her financial support will be critical to Mr Kennedy Jr as he faces the arduous task of trying to get on the ballot across 50 states with varying rules.

Cash injections

Her cash injections have so far included a $4 million donation to help pay for his controversial Super Bowl advert which she helped plan.

Ms Shanahan married Mr Brin, her second husband, in 2018 and divorced him in 2022.

She reportedly sought $1 billion from Mr Brin in the divorce but the amount she was awarded remains unknown.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ms Shanahan had an affair with billionaire Elon Musk, but both have denied the allegations.

Ms Shanahan’s world today is a far cry from her upbringing with a single mother who emigrated to the US from China and who relied on benefits.

The former patent lawyer leads Bia-Echo Foundation, an organisation she founded to direct money toward issues including women’s reproductive science, criminal justice reform and environmental causes.

She previously donated to both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and backed Mr Kennedy Jr last spring while he was still hoping to clinch the Democratic nomination.

Tuesday’s announcement follows months of speculation that Mr Kennedy Jr was planning to choose NFL quarterback and conspiracy theorist Aaron Rodgers as his running mate.

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