Figure Skating Olympics

April 5, 2016
Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada

debi skatingFormer Olympian Debi Thomas is now broke and jobless. Credit: Steve Mack/FilmMagic

In 1988, Debi Thomas made history as the first African-American athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics, taking home the bronze medal for Ladies’ Singles. She went on to become an orthopedic surgeon. But since then, things have unraveled and Thomas is now speaking out about her dire current situation.

"Suddenly, you're like, 'I can't even pay my phone bill, I can't even pay this, ’” Thomas, 48, told Good Morning America on Monday, Nov. 9, of her current financial status. "People don't understand; anybody could suddenly lose, you know, their money. Anybody can."

Thomas does not currently have a job and said she is not interested in going back into medicine. She and her fiancé, Jamie Looney, are living in what was previously a bed bug-infested trailer. She attributes her current predicament to the high legal fees surrounding her divorce from her second husband, Chris Bequette, and the costly child support. Her 18-year-old son Christopher is now in college.

American figure skater Debi Thomas performs her long program during the women's competition 27 February 1988 in Calgary at the Winter Olympic Games. JEROME DELAY/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas’ situation first came to light when she and Looney appeared on the OWN Network’s Iyanla: Fix My Life to work out their issues surrounding Looney’s alcohol and anger problems.

“He did punch me, ” she told host Iyanla Vanzant in the episode, which was taped 10 months ago.

“We figured it out, ” she told GMA of her relationship. “Do we still push each others’ buttons sometimes? Yes.”

But Looney claims he has remained sober for six months and that there have been no more cases of domestic abuse. The couple created a GoFundMe page "as an emergency fund for Dr. Debi Thomas, her fiancé, Jamie Looney, and their family to restore financial stability after severe sudden financial losses over the past couple of years associated with a combination of financially crippling life challenges."

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