What You Never Knew About Blake Shelton

Country artists breaking out of the confines of Nashville stardom and into the mainstream is nothing new, with stars ranging from Reba McEntire to Dolly Parton to Willie Nelson becoming part of the broader pop-culture firmament while maintaining their devoted country music fandom. 

One of the more successful additions to this pantheon in recent years has been Blake Shelton. Back in the 2000s, mention of Shelton's name to someone who wasn't a fan of country music would likely have elicited confused stares. Not anymore, though, thanks to Shelton's role in "The Voice," which didn't so much transform him into a television star as reveal he already was one who simply hadn't yet had the opportunity to emerge. Throw in a high-profile divorce from country artist Miranda Lambert and a rebound romance with one of America's most beloved pop stars, Gwen Stefani, and Shelton entered the 2020s as one of the world's best-known celebrities. 

Meanwhile, Shelton has proven himself to be complex in his simplicity, a multifaceted singer with an outsized personality tailor-made for television who also boasts the instincts of a stand-up comic. There's a lot to unpack, so read on to discover what you never knew about Blake Shelton.

Blake Shelton got his start performing in pageants

Blake Shelton's talent was apparent from an early age, which led his mother to enter him in pageants. "I hated it so much that I almost, like, didn't want to be a singer anymore," Shelton admitted of his pageant days during an appearance on "Live with Kelly and Ryan," recalling the "embarrassing" experience.

As Shelton clarified for "Entertainment Tonight," the pageants typically contained "a talent portion" that allowed his 7-year-old self to demonstrate his singing skills. "In order for me to sing in the pageant, like my mom wanted me to, I had to do the evening wear and all that crap," Shelton admitted.

Reluctantly discussing his pageant days during a visit to "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Shelton revealed his two big show-stopping numbers were Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'n Roll," and "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent. The latter song, he recalled, "didn't go over very well with the soccer moms in the audience," who couldn't have been thrilled to see a young boy singing such suggestive lyrics

He agreed with everyone who thought he didn't deserve to be People's Sexiest Man Alive

Back in 2017, People announced that Blake Shelton was that year's recipient of its annual Sexiest Man Alive honor. If Shelton is to be believed, nobody was more surprised than he was, joking at the time that his reaction to the news was, "That y'all must be running out of people."

A few years later, reported People, he reflected on what it was like to be the Sexiest Man Alive. Explaining he had fully expected to be met with "blowback and hate," he also admitted he totally got it. "I remember, I was like, 'Man, they're right.' Like, I don't disagree with any of this that I'm hearin'." 

Of course, in addition to sexy bragging rights, the accolade also offered Shelton the opportunity to lord it over fellow "Voice" coach Adam Levine, who had been named People's Sexiest Man Alive in 2013. This played out in a filmed bit for "The Voice," with Shelton revealing a giant poster of his People cover plastered on the side of a building, allowing him to declare he is now officially "the sexiest man that's living right now."

The veteran Voice coach once claimed to 'hate reality shows'

Reality television has been very good to Blake Shelton, who is the longest-serving coach on "The Voice" and the only one to have been on every single season since it premiered in 2011. However, some words he once uttered back in the day have since come back to haunt him. In a 2008 interview with The Boot, he was asked which reality TV show he'd most like to be on. "I hate reality shows," he declared, admitting if he absolutely had to be on one, it would be Outdoor Channel's "Realtree Road Trips."

Interestingly enough, "The Voice" isn't the first TV singing competition that Shelton appeared on; in fact, when he gave that interview, he had already starred in the short-lived reality show "Clash of the Choirs." The four-episode series, which aired during the 2007 holiday season, featured Shelton alongside fellow "celeb choirmasters" Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland, Michael Bolton, and Patti LaBelle, each weeding through amateur singers to assemble their own individual choirs. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter's review, Shelton should be thankful that nobody remembers his participation on a show described derisively as "'American Idol' minus the edge meets a Mitt Romney fundraiser."

One of his fellow coaches convinced him to sign on to The Voice

Given Blake Shelton's stated hatred of reality TV, it shouldn't be surprising that the country star was a bit wary of signing on when he was initially approached with the opportunity to join "The Voice." In fact, he told Men's Journal that at first, he passed on the offer.

However, he had a change of heart when he found out Christina Aguilera had officially joined the show; the way Shelton saw it, if a superstar of her stature was involved, he should probably take another look. "I was like, 'F***, who am I to be the holdout?'" he told the magazine. "I'm the country guy nobody's ever heard of." 

While that may have been true at the show's start, it didn't last for long. As Men's Journal pointed out, "The Voice" propelled Shelton from "modestly popular country singer to the breakout star on the biggest show of the year." Speaking with the magazine, fellow "Voice" coach Adam Levine said that the secret behind Shelton's success on the show was his "punk-rock mentality, where he's not afraid to speak his mind, not afraid to say the wrong thing."

He used to have a pet turkey — named Turkey

Blake Shelton has had some odd pets in his day. In fact, in a 2003 interview with CMT he opened up about his pet turkey, which he aptly named Turkey. As he explained, he'd developed a hankering to start bringing the bird to award shows as his plus one. "It's because I feel a responsibility to my pet turkey, Turkey, to expose him to some different things in the world," he said. Noting that Turkey had not done much traveling, Shelton added, "So, I feel like, without me, he doesn't get to do things, and I feel a responsibility to show him the world."

Meanwhile, in a subsequent interview with The Boot, Shelton revealed he'd once been given another pet by a fan — something he didn't realize until after he'd taken the paper sack he'd been handed back to his tour bus. "I put the sack in my lap and opened it, and a live iguana jumped out of the sack and onto my shirt," Shelton explained. "I screamed like a little girl! I think it took a year off my life — it scared the crap out of me."

He's the first person ever invited to join the Grand Ole Opry via Twitter

Being asked to join the Grand Ole Opry is the dream of any aspiring country singer, proof positive that one has truly arrived as a member of Nashville's most exclusive club. Blake Shelton was invited to join the Opry back in 2010, but his invitation proved to be highly unusual. That's because he was the first-ever singer whose Opry invitation was delivered via Twitter. 

As The Boot recalled, the invitation was sent while Shelton was performing a duet with fellow country singer Trace Adkins. As soon as their song finished, Adkins pulled out his cellphone and showed it to Shelton. "Wait a minute, Blake," Adkins said. "You are always on the internet tweeting your fans; now, someone has sent you a message via Twitter." He then read the message, a tweet issued by the Opry, reading, "@blakeshelton, you're invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. See you on 10/23/2010!"  

"I know a lot of guys who want this as bad as I do ... but forget about them," said Shelton on the Opry stage when he was inducted, describing that moment to be "hands down ... the highlight of my career."

The one celebrity he would not want to be

When Blake Shelton spoke with The Boot in 2008, TV stardom on "The Voice" was still a few years off. At the time, one of the questions he was asked was to identify the one celebrity he would not want to be "right now." He offered an interesting answer. "I would not want to be Richard Simmons ... right now or anytime," Shelton declared. According to the singer, he had nothing at all against the "Sweating to the Oldies" exercise guru, other than his signature short shorts. "He seems like a nice guy," quipped Shelton, "but if I had to dress like that? That would absolutely suck."

While that comment was fairly innocuous, eight years later he was forced to apologize for several "inappropriate" tweets from his past — one of which name-checked Simmons. "If you haven't noticed Richard Simmons is gay, you haven't noticed Katy Perry's boobs," he tweeted, as reported by Rolling Stone

He apologized for the tweet — which was criticized for being both sexist and homophobic — in a statement he issued via Twitter. "Can my humor at times be inappropriate? Yes. Hateful? Never. That said I deeply apologize to anyone who may have been offended."

Blake Shelton owns a chain of music-themed bars

In 2017, Blake Shelton made a successful foray into the world of hospitality when he opened his Ole Red bar in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. That led to subsequent locations in Orlando, Florida, and in the Tennessee cities of Nashville and Gatlinburg. In 2021, Shelton took to Instagram to announce plans to open another location at Nashville International Airport.

As Shelton explained in an interview on the Ole Red website, the Tishomingo location also hosts an adjoining music hall called the Doghouse, which features live performances from a mix of established country entertainers and unknown stars-in-the-making. According to Shelton, the Doghouse is all about "creating the opportunity of a lifetime, even if it's just for one kid out there somewhere."

While the Tishomingo location retains a special place in Shelton's heart — given that it's the first Ole Red he opened and is within his beloved home state of Oklahoma — the Gatlinburg Ole Red remains his favorite. "I would say from an artist's standpoint, this is my favorite of the three because of the setup of the stage and what you can see out here in front of you with the two levels," Shelton told Knox News.

He missed sparring with Adam Levine after he exited The Voice

When Adam Levine announced in 2019 that he was exiting "The Voice," it wasn't just fans of the show who were shook. Count Blake Shelton among them, given that a big part of the shtick he'd created on the show involved his bromance and rivalry with the Maroon 5 frontman. 

"Look, it sucks not having Adam on the show," Shelton confessed in a sit-down with "Access" later that year, sharing his feelings on the departure of his costar-slash-comic foil. "He's been there since the beginning, you know," Shelton jokingly added, "and it's hard not to have someone that stupid to make fun of."

While viewers of "The Voice" were no longer treated to the duo's witty repartee on a weekly basis, that didn't mean it wasn't taking place off camera. As Shelton revealed, he and Levine had remained close. In fact, he recounted, they'd recently spent 45 minutes together via FaceTime, engaging in "just nonsense talk, you know, stuff that you could never say on TV ... it was just a typical conversation. We stay in touch. I mean, we'll be friends from now on, you know."

Blake Shelton has eaten crow — literally

In addition to his various responsibilities as a country singer, television personality and tavern entrepreneur, Blake Shelton has also occasionally lent himself out as a pitchman for products. Such was the case in 2014 when he spoke to the Los Angeles Times in his capacity as spokesman for Pizza Hut's new Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust pizza. Since he was being paid for his endorsement, he described the pizza in over-the-top glowing terms: "If there was a way to combine awesome with greatness this is what it is," he gushed.

During the course of the food-centric interview, Shelton was asked to single out the "craziest" food he'd ever eaten, and he offered an appropriately bonkers response. "Crow," he declared. "A friend and myself actually cooked some crow so we could actually say we've eaten crow. Don't ever do that."

Meanwhile, Shelton also revealed some of his other food favorites, in addition to the stuffed-crust pizza he was there to promote. As readers learned, Shelton's favorite dish to cook is steak, his go-to brand of beer is Bud Light, and the one dessert he'd be unable to live without is Rice Krispies Treats. 

That's not water he's drinking on The Voice

Back in 2013, a profile on Blake Shelton for Men's Journal casually referenced his tendency to add "a splash of vodka" to his on-set cup while shooting "The Voice." The following year, Shelton and "Voice" costar Adam Levine were speaking with "Entertainment Tonight" when the subject of what liquid was contained in their respective cups was broached again. "Coffee, ma'am," said Levine of what he drinks on the show, but added, "Blake is a different story, he might want to be the one to tell you."

Shelton fessed up. "I have vodka. I drink vodka on the show," he revealed. "Now that I think of it, every damn brand of vodka has been in that cup. And I don't care if you like it or if anybody likes it, that's what I drink so get over it."

Shelton, in fact, is such a vodka aficionado that he subsequently launched his own brand, Smithworks American Made Vodka by Blake Shelton. As the budding booze mogul declared in a statement reported by People, he'd "been involved in the development of the brand, and I'm excited for everyone to finally taste what we've been crafting."

Guests at his wedding should be grateful Gwen Stefani was in charge of the planning

Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani were coaches on "The Voice" while each went through their respective divorces; Shelton was breaking up with fellow country star Miranda Lambert while Stefani consciously uncoupled from Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale. While the down-home Shelton and the No Doubt singer may have initially seemed to be an odd match, they subsequently became engaged, and details of their romance have filled countless tabloid pages. 

In 2021, the couple finally tied the knot, with Page Six reporting the "intimate" ceremony was held at Shelton's Oklahoma ranch. Prior to the nuptials, Shelton told USA Today (via Yahoo! Finance) that Stefani had taken charge of the wedding planning — something for which their guests should be thankful. 

"If I was picking our meal, it would just literally be everything fried," he quipped. "French fries, chicken tenders, you know, all of that stuff. I think [Gwen] knows that it would be a pretty classless wedding if I was in control."

He loves corn so much he wrote a song about it

While Blake Shelton has gone on record to profess his love of stuffed-crust pizza and Rice Krispies Treats, he's also a big fan of corn — so much so that he actually wrote and recorded a song about it, the aptly titled "Corn." Given that Shelton's home state of Oklahoma is pretty much bursting with corn, it makes sense that growing up surrounded by the stuff would result in a musical tribute to the crop, featuring such lyrics as "Corn for as far as you can see around here," and "Hey, look at all that corn."

In an interview with Audacy, Shelton discussed the origin of the song, which appears on his album "Body Language." "I plant it, eat it. Like, it's everywhere," he explained, insisting he made a "serious push" to have "Corn" released as a single. However, he explained, execs at his label balked. "They came back with, 'Hey man, I don't know that everyone is as into corn as you are,'" he recalled. Shelton, however, continued his hard sell. "But they are!" he told them. "They just don't know it! It's in their chips, they're making corn bread, they drive past it on the highway..."

Blake Shelton's hair care regimen is kind of bonkers

Blake Shelton possesses an enviable head full of thick, shiny hair, and maintaining those luscious locks takes some effort. In fact, during a 2003 interview with CMT, he revealed the extreme lengths necessary to ensure his hair maintains its luster — and the downright unique methods he uses to keep it that way. 

"You know, I am raising chickens now, and I have started going out to the barn, or when I am out on the road, I will go buy some eggs, and I use an egg mixture with ketchup, believe it or not," Shelton said of his hair care regimen. "I will soak my hair in that once a week for about an hour."

Over the years, Shelton's hair began to gray. While quarantining with Gwen Stefani in 2020, he revealed on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that he realized his salt-and-pepper hair had become "just salt." Taking matters into his own hands, Shelton ordered a box of Just for Men hair dye. Unfortunately, Shelton's DIY attempts at dyeing his hair left him with locks that were "blue, or purple or something," so he finally let Stefani take charge and "do it right."