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Who is Nikki Haley's husband? All about Michael Haley

Nikki Haley and her husband, Michael, met as college students and have been married since 1996. Here's what to know about the presidential hopeful's biggest supporter.
Joni Ernst's Roast And Ride
Nikki Haley and her husband, Michael Haley, in Des Moines, Iowa, in Jun 2023.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Ever since Nikki Haley announced that she was running for president, public curiosity about her personal and professional life has been at an all-time high.

Then again, that's nothing new for the politician, who previously served as the governor of South Carolina and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

While voters have been learning more about the presidential candidate's campaign, they've also been curious to know about her husband, Michael Haley, and what role he's played in her political career.

On the eve of Super Tuesday, we're breaking down everything you need to know about the man who has stood by Nikki Haley's side through the highs and lows.

Michael Haley’s real name is Bill

When Nikki Haley first met her husband, he was going by the nickname of Bill, which was short for his full first name, William. 

However, the name didn’t sit right with the future politician. In her 2012 memoir, "Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story," she recalled a conversation she had with her future husband in college.

“You just don’t look like a Bill. What’s your whole name?” she asked, according to the book.

Michael Haley
Michael Haley at a campaign event in Gilbert, South Carolina, in April 2023. Meg Kinnard / AP

When she learned that his full name was William Michael, Nikki Haley decided she liked the name Michael better.

“From that point on, I started calling him Michael, and all my friends did the same,” she wrote.

From there, his new name was official.

“Everyone who knew him before I did knows him as Bill, and everyone who met him after I did knows him as Michael. He looks like a Michael,” Nikki Haley wrote.

Michael Haley was adopted

In her 2012 memoir, Nikki Haley described her husband’s challenging early childhood.

“His biological father was an alcoholic who had trouble with the law. His family lived in a house in Ohio with no electricity and no running water. When Bill was three, he and his four siblings were removed from their home by the state," she wrote.

"The weekend before his biological mother was going to regain custody of the kids, she got in a car accident and suffered a brain injury. She was no longer able to care for the kids, so Bill and his two sisters were put in foster care in one home, and his older brother and sister went to different homes nearby,” she said in the book.

Nikki Haley and Michael Haley in 2010, when Nikki Haley was a candidate for governor.
Nikki Haley and Michael Haley in 2010, when Nikki Haley was a candidate for governor.Brett Flashnick / AP

When he was 4 years old, Michael Haley and his younger sister were adopted by Bill and Carole Haley.

At the time, the couple wasn't aware that there were more siblings to adopt. Fifteen years later, Michael Haley tracked down his other siblings.

Nikki and Michael met in college

Nikki and Michael Haley were college sweethearts. The couple met when Nikki Haley was 17 and Michael Haley was 19. She was a freshman at Clemson University and he was a student at Anderson University.

“We became friends immediately,” she wrote in her memoir, describing her future husband as “fun and interesting.” 

At the time, Nikki Haley was new to college and “had never had the opportunity to date before” so she “wasn’t ready to like him too much,” she wrote in her memoir. Michael Haley then told her he had a girlfriend.

One day, he asked if she’d be interested in dating him while he dated another girl. In her 2012 memoir, Nikki Haley recalled her response. 

“I gave him points for honesty, but that’s about it. So I told him (with a smile, of course), ‘I think that’s great that you’re dating again. But I don’t date people who also date other people, so why don’t you just go date her? Good luck! I hope it works out for you!'" she said, according to the book.

In the end, Michael Haley never dated the other girl and he went on to date Nikki Haley for the next seven years.

Nikki and Michael Haley have two children

The couple has two children: a 25-year-old daughter named Rena and a 22-year-old son named Nalin. During a 2023 interview with TODAY's Craig Melvin, Nikki Haley expressed her gratitude for her family's support of her presidential campaign.

"You can't do this without your family. You just can't. And so to have them there for support is everything," she said.

Nikki Haley family
Nikki Haley and her family in February 2023Bill Clark / AP

The presidential candidate said her son has "always been very involved in everything I do politically" and was very supportive of her idea to run for president. She also shared her daughter's comedic response.

“Rena’s response was, ‘Why do you want to live in someone else’s house again?’” she said.

When asked to describe their mother's parenting style, both Rena and Nalin said she was "tough" but "loving."

Michael Haley is a member of South Carolina's National Guard

In 2006, Michael Haley joined South Carolina's National Guard and now works as a major. He is currently serving a yearlong tour in Africa. This is at least his second active-duty overseas deployment, as he previously spent time in Afghanistan.

When Nikki Haley announced that her husband would be deployed during her presidential campaign, she offered the following statement.

“Our family, like every military family, is ready to make personal sacrifices when our loved one answers the call,” she said. “We could not be prouder of Michael and his military brothers and sisters. Their commitment to protecting our freedom is a reminder of how blessed we are to live in America.”

The couple had two wedding ceremonies

In a 2010 article, The New York Times noted that Nikki and Michael Haley had two wedding ceremonies: one in both the Sikh and Methodist faiths.

Joni Ernst's Roast And Ride
Nikki and Michael Haley at a campaign event.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Nikki Haley grew up in the Sikh faith but converted to Christianity. She spoke about the decision in a New York Times interview in 2012.

"We chose Christianity because of the way we wanted to live our life and raise our children — it had nothing to do with me thinking there was anything wrong with the way I was raised, and everything to do with the fact that I am moving forward in my life and had to find a path I felt was right for me," she said.