As Vulture summarized in a 2017 explainer released shortly after the premiere of “I, Tonya,” Jeff Gillooly’s relationship with Tonya Harding began when Harding was 15 years old and Gillooly two years her senior. They officially tied the knot four years later in 1990, but their marriage was perforated with tumult, with Harding attempting to file for separation twice before their official divorce in 1993. But despite their legal split on paper, the two continued an on-and-off-again situationship; per The New York Times, both continued to refer to each other as spouses until 1994, the same year Nancy Kerrigan was attacked.
As Bustle wrote in its 2017 write-up of Gillooly’s past and current whereabouts, it’s not exactly clear who came up with the idea to injure Kerrigan, Harding’s biggest figure skating rival at the time, in order to eliminate her from participating in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. (Harding denied any involvement in the plot whatsoever, though she later admitted to hearing about a planned attack, per USA Today.)
Gillooly, along with confirmed co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt, hired two other men named Shane Stant and his uncle, Derrick Smith, to seriously maim Kerrigan while she was practicing at Detroit’s Cobo Arena. (Another Bustle article noted that Gillooly might have initially intended to kill Kerrigan, but instead settled on breaking her right leg, an injury which would have presumably eliminated her chances of competing that year.)