EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- As Christian Ponder walked up to the podium for his "Winter Park Wednesday" press conference, he was a new man. A married man. "Just went over to Wisconsin and had it done. So it was quick, but it was good," he told reporters.
Ponder married popular ESPN reporter Samantha Steele in hearing room 1 at the St. Croix County Government Center in Hudson, Wisconsin on Monday. The couple filed their application for a marriage license and got hitched in minutes. Folks who work at the Government Center say the newlyweds were gone before they could get their cell phones out.
"We're definitely offering a free reception," restaurant and tavern owner Ryan Nelson said at nearby Kozy Korner in North Hudson. We asked him why a Minnesota quarterback would wed in Wisconsin. After reminding us of the Mayan calendar date, he said "I'm not shocked. We get it here. It's a great state, it makes more sense. Wisconsin is the motherland," Nelson, a packer fan, explained.
Christian Ponder explained it to the press. "We tried to limit the attention on us. I know that the state of Minnesota isn't happy about it but you know, we're going to have a big ceremony sometime in the off-season and be able to enjoy it," he said.
Nelson tried to explain what the rush was. "She's good looking. You've got to lock her up, you don't want to give her time to think about this," he joked. Ponder says the pair wanted to wed before the holidays and for a lot of personal reasons.
Samantha Steele took to twitter Wednesday morning after the news got out. Her post at 9:22 a.m. said: Twitter is so tricky. Who knew that "she's pregnant" & "they'll be divorced soon" are just the 2012 version of "congrats"! Thx guys!:)
Nelson changed the giant letter board outside of his business to read "Congrats Samantha & Christian Steele." Ponder's heard that one before. "That's what people ask me. That would have been good right (to change his last name)? I could be like a pro wrestler or something," he said.
The newlyweds haven't made any honeymoon plans but they're taking the now-public marriage in stride. A member of the media asked the quarterback if his wedding day was better than the day he was drafted into the NFL in the first round. "That's a tough question. I liked being drafted number one; we'll see how this whole marriage thing goes," he concluded with a smile.
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