The truth about Danica Patrick and Aaron Rodgers' relationship

Even if you don't know much about NASCAR, there's a good chance you've heard of Danica Patrick. According to USA Today, Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008, making her the very first female winner in IndyCar racing history. Additionally, she is the only woman to have finished in the top three of an Indy 500 race. Not only is Patrick incredible at her sport, but she's also an inspiration for women throughout the country. 

In August 2017, Aaron Rodgers began his thirteenth season as the Green Bay Packers quarterback. Rodgers led his team through eight consecutive playoff games and on to win Super Bowl XLV in 2010, ESPN reported. While he is a very private person — he only just joined Instagram in 2017 — he is looking to make some changes. Rodgers told ESPN, "I do have a desire to be myself and not have to feel like I've got to be so private."

While Patrick and Rodgers are both very busy, their now-public budding relationship proves they can still make time for things like dating. And it seems like Rodgers' desire to be less discreet may finally be realized.

Danica Patrick and Aaron Rodgers are dating? It's true.

At the start of 2018, rumors began swirling about a possible romance between Danica Patrick and Aaron Rodgers. However, the rumors didn't remain rumors for long. After a picture surfaced of the two out to dinner together, Patrick confirmed the gossip in six direct words. "Yes, Aaron and I are dating," she said to The Associated Press. Simple enough!

Though, with Patrick being an accomplished NASCAR driver living in Napa Valley, California and Rodgers residing in Wisconsin as the Green Bay Packers' quarterback, how did the two even meet?

Rodgers first met Patrick when she was married

It's true that NASCAR and professional football are essentially as similar as apples and oranges. That said, there is one place where sports figures can all come together every year: the ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards show. 

Danica Patrick confirmed to The Associated Press that she and Aaron Rodgers first met at the 2012 ESPY Awards, where Rodgers happened to win Best NFL Player. That leaves a gap of more than five and a half years between when the two first met and when they began to date. Why? Well, for one, Patrick was married at that time. 

According to People, Patrick married Paul Hospenthal, a personal trainer and physical therapist some 17 years her senior, back in 2005. The couple met in Hospenthal's physical therapy office where Patrick sought treatment for a hip injury.  In those days, Hospenthal and Patrick were happily married and enjoyed spending time with their miniature schnauzer called Billy, another article by People reported.

Patrick divorced her husband but didn't start dating Rodgers until much later

While Patrick and her husband were happily married for a time, it didn't last. In November 2012, four months after the ESPY awards, Patrick wrote on her Facebook page (via People), "I am sad to inform my fans that after 7 years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage. This isn't easy for either of us, but mutually it has come to this."

Patrick continued, "He has been an important person and friend in my life and that's how we will remain moving forward."

While this left Patrick open to dating, it wasn't quite time for her and Rodgers. Though soon after her divorce — about three weeks — she did start publicly dating again.

Patrick started dating a fellow NASCAR driver

In 2013, Patrick confirmed in a telephone interview with The Associated Press (via FOX Sports), "I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard." Richard Stenhouse Jr. and Patrick first became friends after racing one another in the Nationwide Series, FOX Sports reported. Stenhouse mentored Patrick as she was just getting her feet wet in the world of NASCAR.

"Obviously, we've been racing together for a couple years now, him and I have always gotten along, we've always had a lot of respect for each other on the track," Patrick explained.

With that respect also came the determination not to allow their relationship to interfere with racing. "I always say I'll race people how they race me until they do something to make me change my mind. I don't anticipate that changing at all, or us having any issues on the track."

Stenhouse himself agreed, "It won't affect how I race on the track. I want to go out and win, I race everyone hard."

Rodgers found love with actress Olivia Munn

While Patrick and Stenhouse were dating, Rodgers went on to get to know actress Olivia Munn. Whereas Patrick and Stenhouse had a remarkable understanding of each others' careers, the same could not be said for Rodgers and Munn. 

In an interview with Conan O'Brien, Munn told the story of when she met Rodgers. "When I met him, I said, 'So, what do you do?' and he's like, 'Oh, I play football.' I go, 'Cool. What college?' He's like, 'Oh, no, I play professional.'" Munn divulged, "All I saw was that he was, like, really attractive. I didn't really care what he did."

Despite the initial misunderstanding, the relationship continued to flourish. Munn even had to dispel engagement rumors in an interview with Stephen Colbert. "No, we are not engaged — at all," Munn explained, "Just some random magazine decided to say it one day." 

Colbert added, "The followup question is 'What is he waiting for?' He must think he's pretty special if he's [thinking he's] gonna do better than this."

Patrick and Stenhouse split up

After almost five years of dating, Patrick and Stenhouse decided to go their separate ways at the end of 2017. The two NASCAR drivers are "no longer in a relationship," a spokeswoman for Patrick officially confirmed to People.

According to The Charlotte Observer, fans of the couple started wondering if there could be trouble in paradise when Patrick did not attend the NASCAR Awards with Stenhouse, who was honored at the event. Less than a month later came the confirmation of the split. 

Rodgers and Munn had split as well

Seven months before Patrick and Stenhouse decided to call it quits, Rodgers and Munn also made the choice to part ways after nearly three years of dating. 

After the breakup, Rodgers sat down for an interview with ESPN and explained what he learned from the experience of dating a celebrity. "When you are living out a relationship in the public eye, it's definitely... it's difficult," he said. "It has some extra constraints, because you have other opinions about your relationship, how it affects your work and, you know, just some inappropriate connections [referring to rumors Munn hurt his performance on the field]."

Despite the difficulty, Rodgers did not give up on dating, nor did he give up dating public figures.

Patrick and Rodgers: together at last!

Patrick and Rodgers may have met all the way back in 2012, but both were seemingly slow to make a move. Perhaps it just took them each being single at the right time.

Regardless, Patrick appears to have bounced back rather quickly post-breakup with Stenhouse. In mid-January 2018, just a month after Patrick confirmed her breakup with Stenhouse, TMZ obtained and posted a photo of her dining al fresco with Rodgers, along with a few other people, at Mission Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Patrick then confirmed the validity of the picture by addressing her relationship with Rodgers to The Associated Press. It may have been a long time coming so this news is especially exciting. However, there's just one problem...

Packers and Bears? Oh my!

Rodgers is, of course, a Green Bay Packer. The problem is that Patrick isn't exactly a Packers fan. At least she wasn't at first.

Rich Eisen, on his eponymous show, asked Patrick, "Are you a Bears fan?" Patrick responded enthusiastically, "I am." Explaining why she's not a Green Bay Packers fan and why she instead roots for the Chicago Bears, "We lived on the state line. So, I was born in Beloit, Wisconsin but we lived in South Beloit, Illinois." 

What about now, considering she's dating Rodgers? "I told him a long time ago I'd always root for him as a player. Now I am probably going to cheer for the whole team," she stated in an interview with The Associated Press. Patrick went on to add, "Take out the word 'probably.' Now I'm going to cheer for the whole team."

What could be next for Patrick and Rodgers?

After the competition of the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500, Patrick plans to retire at 35 years old, ESPN Women reported. "Retirement looks bright," Patrick explained, "I think many people retire and don't know what they're going to do next and have to figure it out, but I know what I'm going to do." Patrick elaborated on her plans to dedicate more time to her wine brand, Somnium, and her clothing brand, Warrior. "I'd like to expand in the book world as well," she added.

That's not all. She told ESPN Women, "I'd also like to have a cooking show, to help people learn how to cook healthily." Additionally, she'd enjoy traveling and attending concerts "on the side." Patrick's retirement goals sound amazing. However, it now seems she will also have to find room in her schedule to include Rodgers. Is settling down part of the plan? It certainly can't be ruled out. 

"I do [want to start a family], I don't know if it's in my future but it'd be something I think I'd really like to have," Patrick said in an interview with E! News. What's more, The Charlotte Observer reported that Patrick, uncertain about her future, decided to have her eggs frozen when she was 33. With Rodgers claiming to be "on the back nine" of his career, will both athletes go on to retire, settle down, and have children? Your guess is as good as mine.