Personal Review

In Every Power Couple There’s a Taylor Swift and a Travis Kelce

Author: Callum Borchers Source: WSJ:
January 17, 2024 at 22:23

Even wildly successful people can be outshined by higher-profile romantic partners

In almost any other marriage, Lawrence Katz would be the more illustrious spouse. The former chief economist of the U.S. Labor Department was elected president of the American Economic Association last fall.

Five days later his wife, Claudia Goldin, won the Nobel Prize in economics for her research on women in the workforce. 

When the couple walks their golden retriever, Pika, on the campus of Harvard University, where both are professors, students ask for selfies with Goldin. (And sometimes with the dog, Katz says, but never with him.) Goldin is occasionally recognized on airplanes and in restaurants, now that she has achieved a degree of celebrity as the first woman in her field to be awarded a Nobel without a male collaborator. 

When Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz walk their dog, Pika, people sometimes ask for selfies with Goldin, who won a Nobel Prize last year. PHOTO: STEPH STEVENS
When Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz walk their dog, Pika, people sometimes ask for selfies with Goldin, who won a Nobel Prize last year. PHOTO: STEPH STEVENS

To put things in power-couple terms that just about everyone else in America can understand: Katz is the Travis Kelce of the couple, the All-Pro football player regarded as one of the best in his sport. Goldin is the Taylor Swift, the all-world pop star whose fame is on another level. 

In the latest issue of WSJ. Magazine, Kelce describes being blown away by Swift’s “aura.” Even his mother seems to understand where her son ranks in the relationship: “God bless him, he shot for the stars!” she said in an interview for the magazine’s cover story.

Some wildly successful people’s better halves are, well, just that. From Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (aka Mr. Serena Williams) to Michelle Obama, even the most accomplished professionals can be outshined by higher-profile romantic partners. Humility and mutual admiration are critical when the spotlight plays favorites, according to couples who avoid bad blood and enjoy each other’s acclaim. 

To be fair, “better” is subjective. Many who excel in their careers might never match their significant others’ stature, simply because certain jobs are more public.

“I don’t feel any sense that I lost some competitive race,” Katz says of his wife’s Nobel recognition.

Goldin does claim some household bragging rights—but not about work. She says she’s handier than her husband and fitter too, hitting the gym to lift weights several times a week. 

Could she beat him in an arm wrestle?

“Oh, yeah,” she says, though they have not put her boast to the test.


No star at home 

I was in the stands last month when my pitiful New England Patriots hosted Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs. The tight end had five catches in a 27-17 victory, but the fans around me hardly noticed him. They were too busy scanning luxury boxes, hoping for a glimpse of Swift.

The multiplatinum recording artist is an attention magnet at every game she attends, including last weekend’s 26-7 playoff win over the Miami Dolphins. A popular phrase on homemade signs and bootleg merchandise reads: “Go, Taylor’s boyfriend!”

Katherine Carttar, executive director of the Urban
Land Institute Kansas City, is occasionally asked
whether she works outside the home.She is
married to Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas. 

Katherine Carttar, executive director of the Urban Land Institute Kansas City, can relate to being seen first as someone else’s partner. Her husband is the mayor of Kansas City, Mo., Quinton Lucas. At social functions, she’s often asked whether she works outside the home. Her response usually leaves questioners surprised and impressed. Carttar says she is able to shake it off because she is received differently in other circles.

“If we go to an event where there are more political people or development-industry folks, we are viewed almost separately as authority figures in our own areas and respected for what we do,” she says. 

Regardless of how others perceive them, there is no star at home. Carttar, expecting the couple’s second child, assures me that the mayor has many diaper changes in his future. 


Keeping them grounded

Attorney Michael “Ziggy” Zografakis negotiates major deals as Roku’s director of ad-product partnerships. When business talk turns to chitchat about family life, he sometimes mentions that his husband is public-radio host Jeremy Hobson, whose program, “The Middle,” airs on more than 400 stations nationwide. 

Michael ‘Ziggy’ Zografakis, left, is the director
of ad-product partnerships at Roku. He meets
people who gush over his husband, public-radio host

“Some people are like, ‘Oh, my God. That’s crazy!’” Zografakis says. “I’ve gotten, ‘Oh, I listen to him in the shower!’”    

Hobson previously co-anchored the NPR/WBUR midday show “Here & Now” and, before that, hosted American Public Media’s “Marketplace Morning Report.” Sometimes people who meet the couple for the first time act overly excited and friendly with Hobson, as if they already know him because his voice and personality are familiar.

Off the air, he prefers to hang out with people who ground him. To really get to know the radio host, you need to calm down.

“The people that I am closest with in life generally knew me before I was hosting a public-radio show or don’t care,” says Hobson.

Zografakis is a bit of both. He and Hobson met 14 years ago, when Hobson was an up-and-coming field reporter, and though Zografakis grew up listening to public radio, he says he was never star-struck. 

Owning it

Nobody can make David Mars feel like he has been cast in a supporting role. That’s his own take.

“I’m gonna be straight and honest: I married up,” he says.

Mars, a partner at the venture firm White Owl Capital Partners in New York, is married to Tony Award-winning actress Patina Miller, who played Commander Paylor in two “Hunger Games” movies and has a leading role in the Starz series “Power Book III: Raising Kanan.”

Self-deprecation aside, Mars is secure enough in his own success that he says he doesn’t mind being overlooked when he goes out with Miller. On the contrary, he appreciates her ability to snag tough-to-get dinner reservations. The thought of being famous terrifies him, he adds. 

He enjoys meeting and commiserating with fellow offstage partners of actors and actresses. (Who else can relate to being the test audience for fake accents?) Having completely different careers helps ward off jealousy, Mars believes. When his wife garners an award, he wholeheartedly celebrates an achievement that he’d never aspire to.

“It is actually the greatest feeling in the world because it is selfless joy,” he says.

Write to Callum Borchers at


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