Johnson qualified to Junior International Elite status on her first attempt. She first attracted widespread attention at the 2005 U.S. Classic, where she placed 3rd in the junior division. At the 2005 U.S. National Championships, Johnson struggled on the first day of competition, falling from the beam and on the floor. She placed tenth in the all-around.
By 2006, Johnson was ready with new skills, including a Jaeger on bars, and two top-difficulty (G) skills: a full-in dismount off beam and a double-twisting double back somersault on floor. She won the 2006 U.S. Junior National All-Around Championship with a score higher than any of the senior elite competitors that year.
Senior career – 2007 season
Johnson entered the senior division in 2007 and continued to showcase new skills, including a double twisting double layout dismount off the uneven bars. She competed at the 2007 Tyson American Cup, winning the all-around title over teammate Natasha Kelley. Johnson also competed in the 2007 Pan American Games, winning four gold medals in the team finals, the individual all-around, and the balance beam and uneven bar finals, and the silver in the floor exercise final.
Johnson represented the U.S. at the 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships with teammates Nastia Liukin, Shayla Worley, Alicia Sacramone, Ivana Hong and Samantha Peszek. They won the team competition with a score of 184.400 points, 0.950 points ahead of the silver medalist Chinese team. Johnson competed on all four apparatuses in the team competition.
In the qualification round, Johnson earned a score of 16.250 on beam, 15.150 on floor exercise, and 15.175 on vault. She fell on her uneven bars dismount and scored 14.625. The U.S. finished first in the qualifying round. Johnson’s scores qualified her for the all-around finals, along with Liukin. Johnson also qualified to the beam and floor event finals.
In the team competition, Johnson scored 15.375 on uneven bars and floor exercise, and a 15.150 on vault. She fell on the beam on her handspring-handspring-layout series and scored 15.025. The U.S. team won the gold medal. It was the second team gold medal for the United States in the World Championships.
In the individual all-around competition, Johnson performed a double-twisting Yurchenko vault and scored 15.175. She scored 15.425 on floor exercise, 15.900 on beam, and 15.375 on uneven bars. Her total score of 61.875 earned her the gold medal. She became the fourth American woman to win the all-around.
During event finals, Johnson first competed on the balance beam, where she fell on her standing full and on her switch side leap, earning a score of 14.475. She finished in last place. In floor exercise, she went out-of-bounds on her first tumbling pass, but won the gold with a score of 15.250.
2008 Summer Olympics
At the 2008 Summer Olympics Johnson competed in all four events during the team competition, in which the United States won the silver medal. Johnson also won the silver medal in the individual all-around competition, receiving a score of 62.725. Johnson’s teammate and roommate at the Olympic Village, Nastia Liukin, won the gold medal, receiving a score of 63.325. With Liukin taking gold and Johnson silver, this competition was the first time that the United States Women’s Gymnastics team took both the gold and silver medals in the individual all-around competition; this competition also marks only the fourth time any country has won both the gold and silver medals in the individual all-around competition. She won the silver medal in floor exercise, with teammate Liukin taking bronze. She did, however, win a gold medal on the balance beam apparatus. Like the individual all-around, she and Liukin took the top two medals in this event.
2012 London Summer Olympics
In May 2010, Johnson announced that she intends to return to gymnastics with a goal of being selected to the U.S. Olympic team in 2012.
Dancing with the Stars
In February 2009, Johnson became a celebrity competitor on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars season 8, partnered with season 6 winner, professional dancer Mark Ballas. She was the youngest competitor in show’s history. In the finale, tightest in the show’s history, Johnson beat Gilles Marini by less than 1%.
On 17 April 2009, she appeared in the music video Do You Love Me by Ballas Hough Band wearing one of her Dancing with the Stars costumes.Later, she reunited with one of the show hosts, Tom Bergeron, at the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee to discuss her victory.
Other Television Appearances
Johnson appeared on many talk shows: The Today Show on NBC (26 October 2007, 5 August 2008, and 7 October 2008), CCTV (20 August 2008), the Late Show with David Letterman (25 August 2008), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (24 August 2008), The Ellen DeGeneres Show (8 October 2007, 9 September 2008, and 12 March 2009), Live with Regis and Kelly (22 October 2008), Jimmy Kimmel Live! (20 May 2009), and Entertainment Tonight (23 episodes, 2009). Along with other Olympians, she appeared on the season premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show (8 September 2008).
Johnson made a cameo appearance on The Secret Life of the American Teenager season finale episode “Just Say No,” which aired 9 September 2008. Johnson has reportedly shot a second episode that will air in 2010.
Johnson was a celebrity participant in the 2009 Taco Bell All-Star Legends Celebrity Softball Game which aired on ESPN, 13 July 2009.
Johnson appeared on the celebrity edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire on 13 August 2009. She correctly answered a question about the lyrics to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” winning $50,000 for her chosen charity, Blank Children’s Hospital.
She also was on Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2009.
Shawn Johnson is one of the 26 athletes followed by the BBC as part of the World Olympic Dreams series.
From September to November 2008, Johnson was a marquee member of The Tour of Gymnastics Superstars.Recorded sections of the tour’s second show were included in Frosted Pink with a Twist, which is a television special about women’s cancers (Johnson has a grandmother who is a cancer survivor). The television special also featured singers Jesse McCartney, Kenny Loggins, and Grammy Award singers Cyndi Lauper and Carole King.Johnson also headlined the Progressive Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular in Rapid City, South Dakota, on December 23, 2008. The show aired nationally on NBC on January 18, 2009.
Since becoming a professional athlete Johnson has been involved with numerous charitable causes. She has served as a spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, advocating awareness of women’s cancers through the “What You Do Matters” campaign. Johnson has also partnered with Crest toothpaste to promote dental health, passing out toothpaste to low-income people. In December 2008, Johnson co-hosted a charity event with fellow Iowa native and actor Ashton Kutcher to raise money to repair areas of her home state devastated by flooding. According to her Web site, Johnson also supports the “Exercise Your Character” program through speaking engagements.
In December 2008, Johnson unveiled a book, Shawn Johnson: Olympic Champion: Stories Behind the Smile (ISBN 978-1-934417-01-0), chronicling her life story through personal photographs and quotes.
Midwest grocery chain Hy-Vee, headquartered in Johnson’s hometown of West Des Moines, ran a television ad before and during the Olympics featuring Johnson. After the Olympics, Johnson appeared in television ads and online campaigns for Ortega (“Ortega makes my taco pop”) and McDonalds, as well as print and web advertisements for CoverGirl and Secret deodorant. Johnson also appeared on food packaging for McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Oscar Mayer Lunchables and Hy-Vee products. Reports by Johnson’s agent, Sheryl Shade, that Johnson would grace the Wheaties cereal box did not come to fruition. Her likeness did, however, appear on a limited edition Cheerios box in January 2009. Other endorsements included