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Jill Biden: 70 facts about the First Lady at 70

The Independent logo The Independent 03/06/2021 Graeme Massie,Harriet Sinclair and Gino Spocchia
Jill Biden talking on a cell phone: Here are 70 facts about first lady Jill Biden as she turns 70 - AFP via Getty Images © AFP via Getty Images

Here are 70 facts about first lady Jill Biden as she turns 70

- AFP via Getty Images

Jill Biden marked her 70th birthday away from the White House on 3 June, with the first lady and President Joe Biden swapping Washington DC for Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

The first couple paid a visit to their “dream” beach house for the first time since Mr Biden took office in January. Dr Biden becomes the oldest first lady in US history.

In March last year, she told Vogue in an interview: "I wanted it to be the kind of place where you can come in in your wet bathing suit and bare feet and I can just take the broom and brush out the sand. And that's what this is. Everything's easy."

Jill Biden surprises teacher of the year during TV interview

The US president, who has publicly endured great tragedy, has credited his wife for his personal happiness and professional success. They spent the time together, with celebrations thought to be “quiet”, according to CNN.

After turning 70, here are 70 facts about Dr Biden:

1. Jill Biden was born Jill Tracy Jacobs.

2. Her father, Donald Jacobs, was a former World War II Navy signalman who became a bank teller and eventually was president of a Pennsylvania bank.

3. The family of her mother, Bonny Jean Godfrey, ran a Rexall drugstore in Camden, New Jersey, which is where her parents met when her father ordered an ice cream.

4. As a girl she says she would sneak out of her house and break into the Upper Moreland Swim Club in suburban Philadelphia for a dip.

5. She once punched a neighbourhood bully who had upset her sister Bonny Jacobs, knocking on his door and punching him in the face.

6. She grew up a huge fan of the Philadelphia Flyers NHL ice hockey team, but also supports the city’s Eagles and Phillies.

7. As a youngster she spent summers waiting tables at restaurants at the New Jersey shore.

8. After high school she briefly studied fashion merchandising at a junior college in Pennsylvania, according to Vogue magazine.

9. To make some extra money before she met Joe Biden she did some modelling for an agency in Wilmington, Delaware. “I might’ve done five jobs where you get paid, like, 20 bucks,” she told Vogue. “But I wasn’t a model.”

10. Joe and Jill Biden were set up on a blind date and she told Vogue that after it ended she called her mother and said “‘Mom, I finally met a gentleman”.

11. He was not her first husband. She was previously married at age 18 to Bill Stevenson, who she divorced in 1975.

12. She was surprised when Joe first asked her out, tweeting at a much later date: ”How did you get this number?”

“Those were the first words I spoke to Joe when he called me out of the blue on a Saturday in 1975.”

13. She’s not easy to pin down – Jill has previously said that Joe Biden had to propose five times before she agreed to marry him.

14. Perhaps explaining her draw to the teaching profession, she is the oldest of five sisters.

15. She has been a rock for Joe, who met her after the death of his first wife and their daughter Naomi. “She gave me back my life,” said Joe in his memoir Promises to Keep. “She made me start to think my family might be whole again.”

16. She let Joe’s sons Hunter and Beau choose the name of her daughter, Ashley, who was born in 1981.

17. She taught English at Rockford Center psychiatric hospital, and worked in public schools for 13 years.

18. Jill’s students refer to her as “Dr B”, and she also gets a thumbs up for her teaching – with reviews on Rate My Professor suggesting that most students would take her class again – but warning that she is a tough grader.

19. As second lady, when Joe Biden was vice president to Barack Obama between 2009 and 2017, she made her security service detail dress up as students when they accompanied her to class.

20. And she really loves her job - she doesn’t just work as an educator, it’s who she is according to one of her tweets from 2020.

21. She is the first first lady in history who has a paying job outside of the White House.

22. She is officially Dr Biden. She got her Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware in 2007.

23. She has authored several children’s books. Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops was published in 2012, while Joey: The Story of Joe Biden was published in 2020.

24. Her memoir Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself was published in 2012 and became a New York Times bestseller.

25. She shares seven grandchildren with Joe, and has been described by one of her granddaughters, Naomi, as “very mischievous”

Video: Jill Biden Wore a Blazer Bedazzled with a Message of Unity (Instyle)


26. As well as a doctorate, she has two masters degrees - in Education and in English.

27. She is a keen runner and has previously run in charity races, regularly running miles a day for exercise.

28. She ran her first ever marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, in 1998 in 4:30:32.

29. She did not like being called “second lady”. In a 2016 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly said she’d rather be called “Captain of the Vice-squad.”

30. In 2016, she appeared as a special guest on Jeopardy presenting the final clue in a Washington DC episode of the show featuring teachers.

31. She isn’t a natural public speaker. During her time as second lady, she told Marie Claire: “The more you do it, the easier it becomes, but I always want to be prepared, and I always practice my speeches; I never do it off the cuff.”

32. Jill has a strong record of supporting military families and pledged to continue to do so as first lady.

33. She’s happy to do a little internet trolling at Donald Trump’s expense, having previously shared some cheeky tweets taking aim at her husband’s former rival.

34. Jill has some serious mask game – she was pictured at various events during the pandemic with decorative face masks, including one one the campaign trail that simply said “vote”.

35. Despite donning some chic attire since becoming first lady, Jill reportedly has a no-comment policy on her sartorial choices.

36. But it is known that her inaugural evening dress was created by Uruguayan designer Gabriela Hearst in New York and featured the federal flowers from every US state and territory on it, and the Delaware flower positioned at heart level.

37. People love Jill Biden’s scrunchie and she doesn’t know why. The first lady’s hair accessory of choice was a hot topic of conversation after she shared a picture of herself in a shop wearing a light-pink scrunchie. She later told Kelly Clarkson in an interview: “You know, my daughter called me right after I left that shop and said, ‘Mom, everyone’s talking about this scrunchie.’ I said, ‘What scrunchie?’ I didn’t know what she was talking about. I still don’t understand it.”

38. She has many fans – among them her own pets. She told Clarkson that the couple’s dogs Champ and Major follow them around. “They like to be wherever we are. Even if my door’s closed, they’re sitting right outside the door like, ‘Let me in! Let me in!’”

39. And she told Clarkson on the entertainer’s talk show from the White House that she wanted to “maybe go have a martini and some french fries” when the pandemic is finally over.

40. Jill and Joe have some strong couple goals. Married for 44 years, Joe described Jill as the love of his life in a Valentine’s Day instagram post.

41. The president also says that his wife’s favourite day of the year is Valentine’s Day, and she had the White House carpenters install decorations on the lawn this year.

42. Despite being a big fan of teaching, Jill did take a break from the profession during her husband’s presidential campaign.

43. You want her in your corner. During a Biden campaign rally in 2020, Jill took care of a heckler herself – helping to remove the man from the event. Asked about it later, she explained “I’m a good Philly girl”. At another event, Jill jumped in front of Joe to protect him from protesters.

44. She’ll take you for WaWa. During the 202 campaign, Jill shared pictures from various food pit stops explaining her love of WaWa and other fast food joints.

45. Unlike her husband, Jill was not raised Catholic. She became part of the Presbyterian church as a teenager but attends Catholic services with Joe.

46. She loves a prank. She pulled an April Fool’s gag on White House reporters by dressing up as a flight attendant and serving them ice-cream; and when she was second lady she once hid in an overhead bin on Air Force Two.

“I’ve always believed you’ve got to steal the joyful moments when you can,” she wrote in her 2019 memoir.

47. Earlier this year Jill’s life story was turned into a 22-page comic book in the Female Force series released by TidalWave Comics.

48. She carries a custom Valentino Rockstud handbag adorned with a painted portrait of her German Shepherds, Champ and Major, as well as her first initial “J”.

49. Jill and Joe Biden bought their $2.7m beach house near the Delaware resort town of Rehoboth Beach in 2017. It has a swimming pool that overlooks Cape Henlopen State Park, and is just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean.

50. Jill will get to spend her 70th birthday at her family beach house in Delaware and it will be her first visit to the home since her husband was sworn into office in January.

51. She shares snaps of the couple on instagram, and has 3.4 million followers on the social media site.

52. Jill was the host of the first White House Summit on Community Colleges during her time as second lady and remains passionate.

53. She says she is a “pretty healthy eater” who tries to “find fresh fruits and vegetables” and always has almonds and water on hand.

54. She was interviewed by The Food Network star Ina Garten in September 2020 for a “Cocktails and Conversation” fundraiser for her husband’s campaign.

55, Jill told Parade magazine that one of the go-to meals she prepares for her family is chicken parmesan, which she serves with rigatoni pasta and a green salad.

56. While the president does not drink, Jill enjoys a glass of wine, red rather than white, when she cooks, says CNN.

57. Jill told TV cook Rachel Ray that on Christmas Eve she puts out a make-your-own ice cream sundae bar for her family

58. She still takes barre and spin classes and does weights and makes time for working out “whether it’s 6.30 in the morning or 6.30 at night” she told Self magazine.

59. In 2011 she and then-first lady Michelle Obama launched the Joining Forces campaign to help veterans and military spouses with career opportunities.

60. Jill’s secret service codename as First Lady is the same as it was while she was Second Lady, Capri.

61. During the pandemic she said she missed the “scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors” at the start of the new school year.

62. When Democratic Party leadership came to her house in 2003 to convince her husband to run for the White House, she says she walked past the group in a bikini with “No” written in marker on her stomach.

63. When pupils would ask her if she was married to then-vice president Joe Biden, Jill would tell them she was one of his relatives.

64. In her memoir, Jill called Hunter Biden “the heart of our family in so many ways” and has strongly defended him from attacks over his business dealings.

65. She has had a friendship with actor Jennifer Garner “for years and years” and last month joined her on a school visit in the star’s home state of West Virginia. They have both worked on the board of the Save the Children charity.

66. She also has a strong friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama and in February sent her a care package of vegetables from the White House kitchen garden.

67. Jill has also had a long friendship with Prince Harry, after first meeting him in 2013 when he visited Washington DC for a reception honouring fallen US and British troops. Jill then flew to London for the 2014 Invictus games, and the pair have been seen together at the events ever since.

68. Joe Biden revealed that his nickname for his wife is “Jilly” as he paid a loving tribute to her on the morning of his inauguration.

69. Despite social media claims, Jill did not pose for a photograph with Fidel Castro on a visit to Cuba during the Obama administration. Reuters says that the picture was in fact the late dictator alongside the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his wife Jacqueline Beer.

70. Jill is a fan of poet Amanda Gorman and convinced the inaugural committee that she would be perfect for the event. In January she became the youngest poet to write and read her work at an inauguration and it has catapulted her to international fame.


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