Entertainment | Why Arkansas? Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley generate more intrigue with couple debut

Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley continue to surprise when it comes to how they present themselves as America’s new celebrity couple, choosing this week to make their public debut as a celebrity couple in a not-so-typical way.

Instead of being photographed together for the first time at an awards show or on the cover of some glossy national publication, the NFL quarterback and his movie star fiancee chose to be snapped together in a much more humble setting: at a diner in western Arkansas.

The very casually dressed couple, who announced in January that they had become secretly engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic, were all smiles in a photo shared Tuesday on Instagram by the Be Best Cafe and Bar in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley hold hands during Arkansas date night https://t.co/rsMtiUBge3 pic.twitter.com/hoEEZrsZnk

— Page Six (@PageSix) March 31, 2021

The photo shows Rodgers, 37, and Woodley, 29, posing with the cafe’s staff. The Green Bay Packers quarterback, in a black hoodie, stands close to Woodley, who is wearing an oversized gray coat. Their hands are interlocked on Woodley’s shoulder.

“Our team had the opportunity to cook for @aaronrodgers12 and his crew last night,” read the caption from @BestCafeAndBar. “Grateful for the opportunity.”

Fans of the restaurant, and particularly of Rodgers and of the Green Bay Packers, were delighted to see him and Woodley together in the photo, with one person writing: “Aw they make a great couple!! Excited that Aaron is in my home state. #GPG.” Another proclaimed: “My all time favorite QB and his fiancee. You both look so happy. Congratulations.”

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As E! News noted, the cafe typically only opens for daytime service, but prepared a private dinner for Rodgers and Woodley. It therefore sounds like the couple could have kept their dinner — and their presence in Hot Springs — private. But they chose not to.

Neither has reacted to the post, or revealed information on their social media accounts or through their representatives about why they suddenly turned up in Arkansas, which isn’t known as a top destination for luxury celebrity getaways.

Earlier Monday, they were photographed boarding a private plane to fly out of Costa Careyes, Mexico, an exclusive resort town on the Pacific Ocean some 2,500 miles away from Hot Springs.

Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley Leave Mexican Getaway https://t.co/tGF0lIT02K

— TMZ (@TMZ) March 30, 2021

TMZ reported that it wasn’t known whether “the happy couple” were continuing their vacation somewhere else or heading home. Neither Rodgers nor Woodley had any obvious professional reasons to travel to Arkansas. NFL teams typically train near their home cities, while Woodley has completed filming for her next two upcoming films. Meanwhile, Rodgers is slated to guest-host “Jeopardy” for two weeks, starting April 5.

Several hours after being spotted in Mexico, Rodgers and Woodley turned up in Hot Springs. Perhaps they saw Hot Springs as a way to continue their Mexican vacation experience. Like Costa Careyes, Hot Springs is known as a resort town.

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Located in the middle of Hot Springs National Park and the “beautiful Ouachita Mountains,” the town is, of course, famous for its hot springs. Hot Springs also is home to historic bathhouses, hotels and downtown, with the city’s tourism bureau saying it is “the picture-perfect place for a romantic escape.”

Hot Springs’ romantic setting in fact makes it a popular location for weddings, with the Arkansas Bride site saying the intimate, friendly city boasts nearby “lush gardens, sparkling lakes and scenic mountains” that can serve as the backdrop for a ceremony.

Rodgers first sprung news of love for the “Big Little Lies” star when he proclaimed “I’m engaged” while accepting the NFL Most Valuable Player award via Zoom on Jan 30. Woodley confirmed the engagement during an appearance on “The Tonight Show” Feb. 22.

Woodley stirred a new round of speculation about the origins and development of the relationship when she told host Jimmy Fallon that they had been “engaged for a while now.” Many on social media wondered; What does “a while now” mean when Rodgers only ended his high-profile two-year relationship with Danica Patrick in July?

Woodley moreover sidestepped Fallon’s question about whether she had spent time in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and she proclaimed ignorance about Rodgers’ football fame.

The couple’s “obfuscation” of details, as some observers said, could be a way of sidestepping questions about how their relationship blossomed during the pandemic. Woodley reportedly was shooting a film in Canada during the fall, while Rodgers was subject to strict NFL COVID-19 safety protocols regarding testing, travel and outside activities.

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But Rodgers and Woodley also might have been trying to avoid backlash from Danica Patrick fans, especially with reports in certain corners of the internet suggesting that they had begun dating in July, around the time he split from the former race car driver.

Sports gossip site TerezOwens.com reported in July that Rodgers may even have left Patrick for Woodley after Patrick introduced him to the actress.

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