€120k from young love to achieve Joan Freeman's Áras dream

Our first love is special.

€120k from young love to achieve Joan Freeman's Áras dream

Our first love is special.

You still see those teenagers with a nervous giddiness waiting outside the school gate or hanging out in groups in the chippers or at the cinema — ah, the innocence of it all.

Then we grow up.

Clearly, Joan Freeman was a more memorable teenage crush than most.

Forty years later and her young love — who conveniently for her became a multimillionaire — has, out of the blue, stumped up €120,000 to help her achieve her dream of becoming President of Ireland.

It almost seems as unbelievable as the emails we have all received from the African prince who wants to transfer his fortune into your bank account.

Except in Ms Freeman’s case, the windfall is real.

Des Walsh, now retired, was so successful he has a profile on Bloomberg which details his long list of business achievements from his time as president of Herbalife Nutrition Ltd and his five years as vice president of Supercomm, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.

And it reads like a fairytale.

“It’s a really interesting story what happened,” said Ms Freeman.

The pair had dated when they were both youngsters but parted ways after less than a year when she was 19.

Ms Freeman explained: “Des went his way, I went my way. Seemingly what happened was Des moved to America, moved to I think Texas, and then moved to LA.

“And I was on The Late Late last January and someone sent Des a screenshot of me on The Late Late and said ‘Is that your one Joan Freeman?’

After 40 years, he sent me an email, we spoke on the phone.

And just like that, akin to a knight in shining armour riding in on horseback, Mr Walsh came to Ms Freeman’s assistance dishing out the cash required in her hour of need.

Of course she couldn’t have known all those years ago how things would pan out so perfectly.

As she pointed out at her official campaign launch in Dublin yesterday, money is not top of the agenda for a teenager seeking out a boyfriend.

“Anybody here who has ever had a boyfriend of 40 years ago, the things you are interested in: What does he look like? What does he do? Is he married? etc so when I met with Des again I was looking at the person that I knew 40 years ago.”

It never occurred to Ms Freeman to ask where or how the Irish-American businessman had amassed such wealth.

Herbalife, the company from which Mr Walsh stepped aside earlier this year, was investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2016 based on accusations that it operated like a pyramid scheme. Although the company was cleared of the accusations, it paid $200m to settle complaints that it deceived people over the potential gains for selling its products.

But Ms Freeman never really thought to ask.

“This was a man that I knew 40 years ago, as far as I was concerned the money was coming from his own personal wealth — nothing to do with the company that he used to be CEO of.”

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