When Mary Lou Retton's daughter revealed her health battle last fall, fans wondered why she did not have health insurance. The 1984 Olympic gymnast explains why in a new interview that also updates her recovery from pneumonia.

  • Retton was first hospitalized in early October for what doctors would later determine was a rare form of pneumonia.
  • Her daughters shared several updates that revealed she nearly died.
  • A SpotFund fundraiser was opened to help her pay off medical bills. Over $450,000 was raised within a week.

Related: Mary Lou Retton's Daughters Said Their Goodbyes During ICU Stay

"We were just thinking, 'If she pulls through, the last thing we want her to have to think about is paying off these bills,'" daughter Shayla tells Hoda Kotb during a Today interview that aired on Monday (Jan. 8).

The interview reveals that Retton — America's first all-around gymnastics gold medal winner — is still in need of medical care. She's on oxygen and doctors still aren't 100 percent sure what kind of pneumonia she battled.

Why Didn't Mary Lou Retton Have Health Insurance?

The reason for the lapse in Retton's health insurance is simple and relatable. "When COVID hit, and after my divorce ... I couldn't afford it," she admits.

The expense of the divorce weighed on her finances but she also has a long list of pre-existing conditions. She tallied over 30 surgeries to help her remain active after an aggressive gymnastics career. These were orthopedic surgeries for injuries that could last a lifetime.

There's good news moving forward, she shares. "I'm all set now," Retton says, confirming that she is insured in 2024.

Who Is Mary Lou Retton?

Those under 40 can consider Retton to be the original Simone Biles. Her win at the 1984 Summer Olympics was as dramatic as it was improbable. She'd just had knee surgery a few weeks before the games and need perfect 10 scores on the final two individual events to beat Szabo by 0.05 points.

Afterward, Retton would compete until her retirement in 1986. She'd then become a popular spokesperson for various products, attend the University of Texas and eventually get into sports broadcasting.

Her most recent high-profile TV appearance was in 2018 when she was on Dancing With the Stars. Country radio host Bobby Bones would win that season.

Retton has four daughters with ex-husband Shannon Kelley.

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