Special Reports

Chrissy awaited Ian's proposal for past month

The only one who can catch Boise State running back Ian Johnson is BSU cheerleader Chrissy Popadics.

Today, they are the sweethearts of America after Johnson's televised marriage proposal moments after scoring the winning two-point conversion at the Fiesta Bowl late Monday night.

This morning the couple will be shuffled between the New York City studios of ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today" show and CNN's "American Morning" for a series of interviews. At one point, the proposal was the most-watched video on CNN Online.

From the moment she uttered a tearful, "Yes," the couple has been inundated with interview requests from news media. Popadics was so emotional in the aftermath that she could do little more than spell her name to reporters.

It was a moment anticipated by friends and family and engineered, in part, by Johnson's teammates.

Some of the players intercepted Popadics, pulling off one more surprise play for Johnson. She "had no idea" Johnson wanted to propose to her on national television after the game, "but some of the football players were trying to find her," said Jenna Lineberger, a Broncos cheerleader and a friend of Popadics. "They put her on their shoulders to go find Ian."

After a short interview with a sportscaster, the Broncos star turned to Popadics, got down on one knee and proposed. Television cameras captured the moment and broadcast it to the crowd in University of Phoenix Stadium and a national television audience.

"We were all crying on the sidelines and all of a sudden she's on the JumboTron and she's engaged," Lineberger said. "We all saw it on the JumboTron and started freaking out."

Now, the 21-year-old from New Jersey is on a whirlwind trip with her fiancé.

Though the proposal was anticipated for the past month, the actual moment came as a surprise.

"We were speculating when it would happen, but we honestly had no idea," Lineberger said.

Popadics received a hint from her mother after Johnson asked her parents for permission to marry her.

"Chrissy's mom told her that it was going to happen pretty soon," Lineberger said. "So for the past couple of weeks or almost a month, she's been wondering.

"Our last clue was that it was probably going to be at the Fiesta Bowl if we won."

Johnson hinted when he said that Popadics' friends, his friends and both sets of parents would be at the Fiesta Bowl, Lineberger said. But Popadics' parents weren't able to attend the game, she said.

The couple looked at rings at the mall this past fall, Lineberger said. Johnson had asked her what ring she would choose, then he bought her a necklace.

"That kind of threw her off," Lineberger said.

When she finally got the ring, she had to put it on her pinky finger because the ring was too small.

Popadics has talked about getting married in the early summer in California, Lineberger said.

Since Popadics started dating Johnson a little more than a year ago, "she always has a smile on her face," Lineberger said, adding "he treats her like a princess."

The outgoing Popadics provides comic relief on the cheerleading squad, making it fun to work hard, Lineberger said.

"She tries to make everyone feel like they belong on the team," she said. "She's really a kindhearted person. She and Ian are a lot alike in that respect."

To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Kate Brussé at kbrusse@idahostatesman.com or 377-6427.

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