Google co-founder Sergey Brin's ex Nicole Shanahan donated $4M for RFK Jr. Super Bowl ad: report

SCIENCE & TECH: Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s ex Nicole Shanahan donated $4M for RFK Jr. Super Bowl ad: report

Nicole Shanahan, a lawyer and the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, was reportedly a driving force behind Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s $7 million presidential campaign ad during this year’s Super Bowl.

Shanahan – whose divorce from Brin was finalized last fall after rumors she had an affair with his billionaire friend Elon Musk – revealed that she donated $4 million to the super PAC responsible for the ad, American Values 2024.

The prominent Democratic donor told The New York Times that her donation was specifically meant to help pay for the 30-second ad spot.

Shanahan also reportedly assisted with the ad’s final edit and helped to smooth over legal concerns at CBS Sports and Paramount about the commercial – which bore a strong resemblance to a famous ad from former President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign.

“It seems like a great opportunity to highlight that he’s running for president,” Shanahan said in an interview with The Times.

Nicole Shanahan and Sergey Brin divorced last year. Drew Altizer Photography/Shutterstock

When the super PAC’s original Super Bowl ad concept was derailed by fears it could violate rules against campaign coordination, Shanahan reportedly stepped in with a “small team” and began pouring over old campaign ads for ideas.

Shanahan told the outlet that she had never seen the 1960 Kennedy ad that was heavily referenced in the final product. Legal concerns were reportedly allayed because the original ad is considered public domain.

Kennedy, 70, is running for president as a third-party candidate. The environmental lawyer has faced scrutiny over his anti-vaccine views, as well as sharp criticism from critics in both parties who fear his presence in the race will hurt their preferred candidate’s re-election chances.

Nicole Shanahan and Sergey Brin were married in 2018. Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Shanahan clarified that she is “not an anti-vaxxer,” but acknowledged that she does “wonder about vaccine injuries.” She cited Kennedy’s focus on environmental protection, vaccine safety and children’s health issues as some reasons for her support.

She admitted to being “incredibly disappointed” by RFK Jr.’s decision to run as an independent but eventually decided to back him anyway.

“I do think we have an environmental health crisis in this country,” Shanahan added. “I do believe Americans deserve clean water. And we can’t achieve that in the current climate of politics.”

Some Kennedy family members expressed outrage over the Super Bowl ad.
A 30-second ad for RFK Jr.’s campaign aired during the Super Bowl. Robert F. Kennedy Jr

Shanahan, who previously donated to President Biden’s campaign in 2020, gave the maximum $6,600 contribution to Kennedy’s campaign this election cycle.

Kennedy apologized to his kin about the ad Sunday night, which some family members reportedly found insensitive to JFK’s legacy, writing on X that he was “so sorry if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain.”

Nicole Shanahan is a lawyer and investor. Getty Images for Gold House

“The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you,” Kennedy wrote.

Despite the apology, Kennedy still had the ad “pinned” at the top of his X profile as of Tuesday morning.

Shanahan, who married Brin in 2018, has strongly denied assertions from a bombshell Wall Street Journal report that alleged she and Musk had “engaged in a brief affair” in late 2021.

“Did Elon and I have sex, like it was a moment of passion, and then it was over? No,” Shanahan told People last year. “Did we have a romantic relationship? No. We didn’t have an affair.”

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