After weeks of rumors and retractions, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, two of the world’s great New Yorkers, announced on Thursday that they were ready for something new. Something apart.
As the magnolias and cherry trees burst into blossom and vaccines go into arm after arm, many New Yorkers are asking themselves: What’s next, after all this disruption and devastation?
It is a great and terrible and majestic time for New York. And now, this: A split of two eminences with the city at the core of their identities. She, a Bronx-born singer who named her debut album after the 6 train; he, a former Bronx Bomber born to Dominican parents, with strong ties to Miami and weaker ones to Washington Heights.
Over the last year, as the city endured a time of trial, the couple’s connections to it grew closer. Though they, like so many New Yorkers of their echelon, hunkered down in Florida when lockdowns began, Ms. Lopez and Mr. Rodriguez gave the keynote address at last year’s citywide graduation. She came to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to bid farewell to 2020.
Together, the two of them tried to buy the Mets, a power play endorsed by New York City’s mayor. (That they lost the bidding war may be good news for baseball fans, who have suffered enough problems and will be spared a messy breakup.)
To hear this couple tell it, it was a love born under the auspicious New York City lights. When they first met at a baseball game at Shea Stadium in 2005, the chemistry was apparently instant. As Ms. Lopez told Sports Illustrated in 2019: “It was this weird electricity for, like, three seconds.”
The moment passed. At the time, they were both married to others. Mr. Rodriguez and his wife, Cynthia Scurtis, were new parents, with a 6-month-old daughter. Ms. Lopez had only tied the knot a year earlier with the singer Marc Anthony, who had taken her out to the ballgame.
The years went by, and their lives hit peaks and valleys. They both had children. Their marriages crumbled in the public eye. They both kept raking in millions. Mr. Rodriguez won a World Series ring and a collection of baseball accolades; he also faced a long suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Time took a toll. After 22 seasons, he retired in 2016.
Months later, he reconnected with Ms. Lopez, who tapped him on the shoulder at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he told Sports Illustrated. After a quiet period in the years after they first met, she had been propelled back into the spotlight, in no small part thanks to a judge spot on “American Idol” and a thumping collaboration with Pitbull, “On the Floor.”
Mr. Rodriguez followed up with a text asking Ms. Lopez to dinner, as she later explained on “Ellen.” Ms. Lopez accepted.
Ms. Lopez had worked tirelessly through the last two decades with sinusoidal success (just about everyone has a flop era), but as their relationship began, she was beginning to truly enter the most exclusive pantheon of the globally superfamous. Mr. Rodriguez started new chapters in broadcasting and business.
Ms. Lopez’s star turn in “Hustlers” at the end of 2019 brought the loudest raves of her life. (“Denzelian, Pacinoesque,” wrote The New York Times; she was snubbed by the Oscars.) And then, last February, at 50, she obliterated the Super Bowl halftime show with co-star Shakira.
Her empire has encompassed film, television, makeup, shoes, swimsuits and more; Mr. Rodriguez, back in 2018, cited her lifetime gross sales of perfume alone at $2 billion. She credits his influence on her business sense.
Throughout it all, Mr. Rodriguez stood by, the paragon of the supportive partner, beaming with pride at Ms. Lopez’s accomplishments. He was there the night the lights went out in Manhattan, taking her concert with them. He was there as she presented at the Oscars. He spoke lovingly about her in interviews.
The couple’s love was extensively documented on internet gossip sites. They fed the fire by offering extensive glimpses on social media, in ways both touching and seemingly promotional.
To wit: In 2018, Ms. Lopez released “El Anillo,” a Latin pop anthem with baseball references that all but dared Mr. Rodriguez to propose to her.
His response, on Twitter: “well I keep asking her!”
About a year later, in March 2019, she said yes.
The couple also rallied over the last year to support the world in a trying time.
The tabloids gunned for them a bit early in the pandemic, when they were spotted leaving a Miami gym in April. (The gym appeared to be closed.) But they more than made up for it. In August, Ms. Lopez posed in a mask in Central Park to encourage pandemic safety; she told People in September that “The blessing of the quarantine for us was having dinner with the kids every night, for months and months.” The couple made frequent references to staying home for the pandemic, although it wasn’t always clear which of their homes they were in.
And so, although Ms. Lopez is currently shooting a movie called “Shotgun Wedding,” in which she and Josh Duhamel (in a role formerly belonging to Armie Hammer) star as a couple whose wedding party is taken hostage (it’s a comedy), there will be no wedding for her at this time.
The couple delivered their exclusive to Today:
We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so. We will continue to work together and support each other on our shared businesses and projects. We wish the best for each other and one another’s children. Out of respect for them, the only other comment we have to say is thank you to everyone who has sent kind words and support.
To be fair, earlier this week, those who pay attention noticed Ms. Lopez had appeared on Instagram without her engagement ring. The sleuths, this time, were right.
Representatives for Ms. Lopez declined to comment on her plans for the spring and summer ahead. She was silent on social media.
Mr. Rodriguez was not. On Wednesday, the day before the couple’s joint breakup announcement, he posted a short video on his Instagram story. The camera sweeps over an altar’s worth of framed photos of the couple and their family, ending with a photograph of “Jennifer + Alex” written in the sand.
In the corner of the video, he tagged Ms. Lopez, enshrining her Instagram handle on a sticker with a blue heart.