In 2010, Sarah told PEOPLE how she reacted after seeing a tabloid headline about a $20 million divorce settlement.
“I call Todd on the cell phone [from the grocery checkout] and I say, ‘Todd, you won’t believe this cover!’ And he says, ‘Twenty million? Write me a check,’ ” she said then. “He’s good about laughing some of that stuff off.”
Still, rumors swirled, in part thanks to Levi Johnston, daughter Bristol’s former fiancé, PEOPLE reported at the time. “It seemed like the lies would never let up,” Sarah said in 2010. “Some days I would say, ‘Okay, Lord, where is the light at the end of the tunnel?’ ” She credited prayer for carrying them through.
A year earlier, a representative for the couple flatly denied any impending split, telling PEOPLE in an email, “No truth to any of the rumors”
“No divorce. No affairs. No land in Montana. Nothing!” the rep wrote. “All lies and fabrications!”
“Our whole life is under a microscope,” Todd told PEOPLE in 2010.
In a TV interview that same year, dismissing speculation that she had had plastic surgery on her breasts, Sarah told Greta Van Susteren: “A report like that is about as real and truthful as reports that Todd and I are divorcing or that I bought a place in the Hamptons or that [son] Trig is not my own child.”
But nearly a decade later — and some 31 years after they eloped and after raising five children together — that rumored divorce came true.
Todd filed for divorce from Sarah on Friday, his 55th birthday, court records show. His complaint cited “incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.” (According to the Washington Post, “incompatibility of temperament” in Alaska is not unlike “irreconcilable differences” in other divorces.)
The last decade turned the Palins into household names — first as groundbreakers (Sarah was Alaska’s youngest and first woman governor and was seen as a curveball for a Republican presidential ticket) then as lightning rods.
They did not shy from the spotlight, remaking themselves into TV stars after Sarah left office.
“When you’re granted influence, you don’t squander it,” she told PEOPLE in 2010. “I realize that people can stop listening to me at any time. As long as my kids don’t stop, I’m fine with it.”