Tim Tebow proved that he was a star athlete as a football player for the University of Florida when, as a sophomore, he snagged the coveted Heisman Trophy in 2007. He brought even more attention to himself by sporting biblical verses on the black patches underneath his eyes during game days. His faith also led him to take a vow of virginity, and this hasn’t always made dating easy for the former football star-turned-professional baseball player. For example, his 2015 relationship with Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo reportedly soured due to a lack of intimacy, according to Us Weekly.
Tebow didn’t stay back on the market for long, though. He had the opportunity to date another pageant queen in 2018. This time, it was South Africa native and Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Less than a year after they were linked together, Tebow proposed to the brunette beauty in the most adorable and elaborate way, and she said yes. Home run for Tebow!
If you’re curious about the woman who got Tebow to put a ring on it in record time, as well as how becoming the victim of a crime led her on a quest to empowering women, keep reading to find out the untold truth of Tim Tebow’s fiancée.
Making history at her high school
She’s way more than just a beauty pageant winner. Turns out Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters has excelled in most areas of her life, starting at an early age. According to her official pageant biography, she made history at her high school by « holding two leadership positions. » Those positions turned out to be the President of the Student Council for her school and her boarding house, according to a Miss Universe article.
Not only that, but Nel-Peters was also the « Junior Deputy Mayor of her city George, in the Western Cape at the age of 17, » the article added. She continued to excel in life when she attended North West University, where she graduated with a degree in Business Management. In the future, she may even take her education one step further, as she told City Press in January 2018, « I definitely plan to do my MBA in business management later and hope to have my own business one day. Entrepreneurship is in our blood. »
Self-defense techniques saved her life
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was on her way to an event in her native South Africa when she stopped her car at a red light and was immediately surrounded by five men. « Three of them were armed and nearly pointed the gun towards my head, » Nel-Peters explained while on Hollywood Life’s podcast.
With her car stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and with nowhere to go, she remembered some key advice from a Women Empowered self-defense course she had taken, which was to surrender. « I said, ‘Just take everything.’ It can be replaced, » she said, recalling the event. Though one man wanted her to leave with them in her car, Nel-Peters was able to escape, attacking the man and fleeing. « I punched the guy in the throat, » she recounted. « I managed to get back up on my feet and I pumped him in the throat and it gave me window of opportunity to run away. » After running through traffic and pleading to other drivers for help, a young woman about the same age as Nel-Peters came to the rescue and gave the beauty queen a ride.
Nel-Peters admitted to being very shaken up after the terrifying incident, but she revealed that the assailants didn’t get away with the crime.
She holds multiple pageant titles
Nel-Peters first made a splash on the beauty pageant circuit when she competed for the title of Miss South Africa in 2017. There’s no doubt she stunned the judges with her flawless beauty, but it was her answers during the question session that really made her shine on stage.
Brand South Africa reported that Nel-Peters was asked to describe the greatest fear she had to overcome. She answered with refreshing candor, « The fear of fear itself. We forget that we are only human and that everything you need to achieve greatness is already inside of you. » Nailed it!
After a combination of the judges’ input and a tally of a portion of votes received from the public via text message, she was victorious. As the new Miss South Africa, Nel-Peters was chosen to uphold the « ideals and attributes of the modern South African woman, » while also helping to empower women, protect children, and « be a responsible representative of all South Africans. »
Breaking a Miss Universe record
When Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters represented South Africa in the Miss Universe pageant, Times Live reported she was a « firm-favorite going into the competition » and added that there was a « big buzz around her. » And she clearly amazed everyone — not only by her poise and beauty— but also by how she owned the Q&A session with her « brilliant answers, » as HuffPost ZA wrote.
When asked to name the biggest issue that women around the world face, the crowd and judges were floored when she answered, « Women earn 75% of what men earn doing the same thing. I believe in equal pay for equal work. »
Though the other contestants had their strong points as well, when it came time to crown the queen, Nel-Peters was the clear winner. Her win also set an astonishing record. According to HuffPost, Nel-Peters is just the second South African to win the Miss Universe pageant. Margaret Gardiner took home the crown in 1978.
An empowering campaign
While discussing her carjacking experience with Fox News, Nel-Peters stated that, after she shared the details from her traumatic experience with the world, other women began to reach out to her. « They would say to me, ‘Is there anything that you can do to help us?' » she said. Knowing that other women might find themselves to be victims of similar crimes, Nel-Peters set out to ensure that they were given all of the tools needed to protect themselves. This compelled her to partner with Women Empowered, the same self-defense program whose techniques she credits for saving her life.
Inspired by the program, Nel-Peters went on to organize workshops around South Africa to empower « women with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult situations, not just hijacks or carjacks, but robberies, rapes, violence against women and sexual harassment, » she told the Hollywood Life podcast, regarding her Unbreakable campaign.
After winning the title of Miss Universe, Nel-Peters was given an even bigger platform to reach out to even more women. « I want to encourage women not to feel weak, » she told Fox News. « Don’t be afraid to speak out. To ask for help does not make you weak. »
Her biggest motivator
Nel-Peters’ parents divorced when she was really young, according to Heavy, and both her mother and father have since remarried. Fortunately, she gets along well with the new additions to her family, and she is always ecstatic to have them join her during the most important moments of her life. She also has a half-sister, Franje, through her father, Bennie Peters, and his new wife, Elzabé Peters. Sadly, Franje was born « without a cerebellum and is completely disabled, » as Nel-Peters told Miss Universe.
Nel-Peters celebrated Franje’s 12th birthday in February 2018, and she called her younger sister her « absolute biggest inspiration » in an Instagram post. According to a Miss Universe article, Nel-Peters has also described Franje as her « biggest motivator. » She’s said, « Her situation makes me realize how special life is and I always want to work twice as hard, enjoy life twice as much so that I can enjoy it for her as well, » adding, « Therefore each experience I encounter is that much more special. »
To further understand just how much Franje means to Nel-Peters, her dad told City Press, « The evening when she was crowned Miss South Africa and we were allowed backstage to congratulate her, she said: ‘Tell Franje we’ve won the crown.' »
Finding love at a charity event
It was Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters’ sister, Franje Peters, who actually brought Tim Tebow and Nel-Peters together. Tebow knew that Nel-Peters’ sister has special needs, as he told the Today show, and the sports star thought it would be a great idea to invite the beauty queen and her family to his Night to Shine charity event.
As part of the athlete’s Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine gives « people with special needs ages 14 and older » an extravagant prom night they’ll never forget. With help from hundreds of churches from across the globe, the Tim Tebow Foundation hosts annual events in various locations, and, on one particular night, a function took place in Nel-Peters’ native South Africa that Nel-Peters’ little sister attended.
From that night on, as Nel-Peters told radio host Anele Mdoda (via Cosmopolitan), she and Tebow « started talking and we kind of haven’t stopped. »
A family affair
Months prior to getting engaged, while Tim Tebow was promoting his book This Is the Day, he told People he was « feeling great » about his new relationship with Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Not only was he falling for his then-girlfriend, but he was smitten over her family, too! The athlete added, « She’s just so special; her whole family is. I’m getting to know everything about her and her family and background. »
Throughout their brief courtship, Tebow appeared to spent a lot of time with the pageant queen and her family, and vice versa. According to a September 2018 picture posted to Instagram, the couple, both sets of Nel-Peters’ parents, and Tebow’s mom and dad met up in New York City for some fun. And in December 2018, Tebow was able to experience a South African safari with Nel-Peters’ dad, Bennie, and her stepmom.
Meeting the ‘rents is a huge milestone in any relationship, but, during Tebow’s October 2018 chat with People, the magazine noted that the athlete was « taking things slowly » with his Nel-Peters. « I’m just so blessed, » he said. « I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. »
A whirlwind engagement
In 2016, Tim Tebow told The Ellen DeGeneres Show that he was looking for an attractive partner who shared his beliefs. « You have to have chemistry, character, but there has to be something more than just glitz and glamour, » he said during the interview. He apparently found all that and more when he met Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2018.
By January 2019, he and the South African stunner were engaged. According to People, he invited Nel-Peters to his family’s farm near Jacksonville, Fla. under the guise of a belated family Christmas dinner. Tebow reportedly wasn’t nervous about proposing at all, but he wanted to make sure Nel-Peters wouldn’t « sense his excitement. » So he told her he would be surprising his father with a brand new truck and even went so far as to borrow a vehicle from a dealership to cover his tracks. Sneaky, sneaky!
Tebow and Nel-Peters took a walk towards a lake and paused by « a specially made bench that was engraved with the date the couple first met. » That’s when he got down on one knee and presented her with a 7.25-carat diamond ring. « This ring is internally flawless, » he told her. « Just like you. » Singer Matthew Mole then serenaded them with their favorite song, « The Wedding Song, »
Making the occasion even more special to the couple was the fact that Tebow had flown in Nel-Peters’ closest family members and friends from South Africa, and his family and friends were also in attendance.
She had to ‘measure up’ to the other women in his life
Ever since the public became infatuated with Tim Tebow’s love life, he has made it known that his future partner would have big shoes to fill. « I have been so blessed with having great role models around me, number one my mom and two great sisters, » he told SheKnows in 2012. « It’s hard for a lot of girls to measure up. »
It was clear that, once Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters entered his life and stole his heart, she measured up perfectly. She also won over his sisters, too, especially Tebow’s older sibling, Katie. Katie was one of the first to congratulate the couple after their January 2019 engagement, with an Instagram post that read, « Couldn’t be happier for these two! »
Katie also wasted no time in welcoming Nel-Peters into the Tebow family by presenting her future sister-in-law with a very special gift: a keychain with two charms that read « Taken » and « Sorry, » which the beauty queen showed off on her Instagram Story (via People). Nel-Peters captioned the picture, « Lol, you bet! » and thanked Katie for the adorable gift.
She has plans to be a top model
Time Tebow’s fiancée, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, had an amazing year as Miss Universe, and she kicked things off by wowing the pageant’s director of talent, Esther Swann, with her maturity. « I sometimes have to remind Demi that she’s 22 and can act it. That it’s sometimes okay to get a pimple, » Swann joked to City Press in 2018. After proudly donning the crown and sash and tending to her duties as queen of the universe, Nel-Peters had to pass the baton to her successor, Catriona Gray, from the Philippines. « [I’m] saying goodbye to one part of my life and also getting excited for next year, » Nel-Peters told Page Six around that time.
Nel-Peters had a lot on her plate prior to becoming Miss Universe, but giving up her throne didn’t mean her schedule would slow down. « I’ve been working with God’s Love We Deliver since I started my reign as Miss Universe, » she said of the company that delivers healthy meals to people with serious illnesses. « I’ve just grown to love the organization so much, and it’s amazing what they do. »
She also made a huge — though unsurprising — career move. « I recently signed with IMG Models, so I’ll be working full-time with them, » she shared with Page Six. The modeling agency also represents the likes of Bella and Gigi Hadid, Ashley Graham, and Candice Swanepoel, according to Cosmopolitan, so the gorgeous pageant winner will be in good company!