Jim Rathmann grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. If you don’t know, Boca Raton is a diverse area; there is everything from rags and poverty, to astounding riches. But Boca Raton is mostly known for the elderly retired. Growing up in Boca Raton teaches a kid to want to escape – and that’s exactly what Rathmann did – by being a phenomenal football star.
But how does a football phenom from Boca Raton end up becoming a member of one of the country’s most renowned championship football teams, a secret service agent, and finally a television star? By never giving up.
Rathmann grew up poor and was the kid that got a lot of hand-me-down clothing from Church or from friends. As Rathmann likes to put it, “We didn’t have a lot of food so I always did my best to try and eat at friends’ houses when I could. My father worked his butt off to try and provide the best for my brother and me but we definitely had some struggles.”
Rathmann was always the underdog growing up. Most people didn’t think that he would achieve in life. This was because he didn’t have much to work with. “No one could see or sense the burning desire I had for success.” But it was success Rathmann would soon realize, and it came in droves.
But Rathmann had a secret admirer – a 7th grade school teacher who did believe in him. She was Becky VanCott. VanCott pushed Rathmann, constantly convincing him he was capable – regardless of his upbringing. And she was right. VanCott ultimately would become the motivation and spark that drove Rathmann to success and fame.
Rathmann was a football phenom in high school – partly because of VannCott – and she was right. In the early 2000s, Rathmann was recruited by the LSU football team – all his hard work in high school had finally paid off. Then in 2003, the team won the National Championship, and later, Rathmann would be inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame. But this kind of success had just begun. Football was just a stepping stone to a higher calling and one that would lead him into the world of the Secret Service, detective work, and ultimately, television.
A series of events in Rathmann’s life held a secret desire he wouldn’t tell many people about – law enforcement. When visiting Dallas one afternoon with his father, Rathmann toured the area where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The stories of heroism of the Secret Service agents during that fateful event impacted Rathmann. He was enthralled with the tales of dedication and unfailing loyalty these agents had while protecting the President – but had all seen their worse nightmare come true in that fatal afternoon. This was a motivator that would lead Rathmannn to a world of unparalleled access.
Rathmann graduated LSU and set out to do what he really wanted to become – a Secret Service agent. “I wanted to be a part of something that 99.9% of the people in this world could never experience,” Rathmann says. And he did it. It started with a stint in the military as a Captain in the U.S. Army, where he served in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star.
But he continued to achieve and was then hired by the Secret Service, eventually protecting President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and a slew of Prime Ministers and dignitaries from all around the world. This then led Rathmann into detective work, working homicides, violent crimes, major felonies, was assigned to a Special Response Team while at a Sheriff’s Office, a served in Undercover Narcotics.
This was all exciting stuff that would ultimately lead Rathmann to the world of Joe Exotic. In 2020 the Discovery Chanel hired Rathmann as the lead investigator and star of the show Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Coverup. It was a bizarre turn that would put Rathmann into a bizarre world – with a bizarre outcome. Rathmannn will eventually lead the investigation to discover the truth, revealing new theories uncovered by private investigators, and unpacking evidence exposed by criminal and legal experts. The show was a hit.
Rathmann has gone on to appear on many well-known television shows; Good Morning America, Access Daily, Sidewalks Entertainment, The Jenny McCarthy Show, Grapevine TV, E! True Hollywood Story, Sundance Channel, and even the featured speaker at CrimeCon in 2021. Rathmann is currently working on projects with Hulu, Investigation Discovery, Discovery +, and Amazon. Already an amazing career for a poor boy from Boca Raton.
Rathmann’s resolve is really the story. He is a tenacious character then values persistence, and a ‘never quit’ attitude. He is destined for more achievement, or never stop trying.