Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins: United By Love, Divided By College Football

The couple appears on the cover of Southern Living’s Spirit Of Game Day issue, on newsstands on Friday, Aug. 18.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

August 8, 2023

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Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photos by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living

Fall is quickly approaching, and for Thomas Rhett and his wife, Lauren Akins, that means their deep-rooted rivalry between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and the University of Tennessee’s Volunteers is about to resurge. 

While sitting down with Southern Living Magazine for the Spirit of Game Day issue, Thomas Rhett and Lauren opened up about what it’s like living in a household divided by their college football teams. 

Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living
Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living

Lauren entered nursing school at the University of Tennessee and graduated in 2012, but her affinity for the school’s orange and white colors traces back even further to her childhood.

“The first time I broke a bone, I was playing football,” she explained. “I can remember my dad doing drills with my sister and brother and me in the front yard.” 

When it comes to her mom Lisa, Lauren admitted, “She was the big football fan in our family, and she’s really the one who instilled that in me.”

The mom of four can still recall the moment during a visit to Knoxville to see an older cousin when her love for the school reached a new level.

“The passion just took over,” she said before adding, “Once you walk onto that campus and step foot in Neyland Stadium, there isn’t a feeling in the world like it. And Thomas Rhett will agree, even though he might not want to,” she joked. 

Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living
Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living

Thomas Rhett carries a strong heritage of being a Georgia Bulldog fan. In fact, it spans three generations of men in his family. Rhett’s great-grandfather was a top recruiter after playing in the forties, his grandfather had his time on the field, and his father, Rhett Akins, briefly played for the Bulldogs before breaking out as a country artist.

“My dad was preached to about the Dawgs from the day that he was born,” Rhett shared. 

While the same goes for him, Rhett did not get the chance to follow in their legacy and attend the University of Georgia as a student.

 “That was my first choice. I remember writing my paper and getting a rejection form as fast as you’ve ever seen a letter come in the mail,” he explained. 

Thomas Rhett, Lauren Akins; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living
Thomas Rhett, Lauren Akins; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living

He ended up getting rejected from Tennessee as well, which then landed him at Lipscomb University in Nashville. It may not have been the outcome he was initially hoping for, but Rhett says this was “always God’s plan for my life.”

Despite being on different ends of the field when it comes to game days, the pair can still appreciate each other’s dedication when it comes to their love of the game. 

The “Slow Down Summer” singer even admitted to rooting on the Vols when they’re not up against Georgia, but for him, nothing will compare to a stadium full of Bulldog fans. 

Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living
Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living

When you have a whole stadium calling the Dawgs, a lot of people would say it’s funny that grown men and women are out there barking on a Saturday. But when you hear it all in unison, there’s something electric about that,” Rhett added. 

During the interview, which is available online now, the pair also explained how game days look a bit different now that they have to work around Rhett’s touring schedule and their four daughters running around at home. Despite their busy lives, football remains a priority in the fall season. 

Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living
Lauren Akins, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living

“We’ll get a fresh keg of ShinerBock, there’ll be TVs on all over the place, our girls will be running around, and the guys will be trying their best to watch the game in between changing diapers and feeding babies bottles. That’s kind of what it looks like these days,” the singer/songwriter said. 

Rhett is currently in the midst of his Home Team Tour 23, which features support from Cole Swindell and Nate Smith. Produced by Live Nation, Presented by Dos Primos Tequila and Fueled by Marathon, the 40-city trek kicked off on May 4 in Des Moines, IA at Wells Fargo Arena and continues through September 29, where the tour will wrap up at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN.

Thomas Rhett’s next scheduled concert appearance will take place on August 11 at TidalWave Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

For additional information and a full list of Thomas Rhett’s upcoming tour dates, visit his official website HERE.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.