Sam Armytage engaged: who is her fiancé Richard Lavender?

·12-min read

From humble beginnings as a political reporter in Canberra to Aussie TV stardom, Samantha Armytage has had an impressive — and sometimes controversial — career in the spotlight. Today, she’s best known as the co-host of the top-rating breakfast television program, Sunrise, alongside David Koch.

But where did the 43-year-old spend her childhood and when did her illustrious broadcasting career really take off? Does she have a partner and where does she live now? We take a deep dive into Sam’s life to answer these questions — and more.

Samantha Armytage wears a black top and white skirt at the Jan Logan Merindah Collection Launch on December 03, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.
Samantha Armytage has had a highly-successful twenty-year media career. Photo: Getty Images.

Where did Samantha Armytage grow up?

Born on September 4, 1976, to Elizabeth and Mac Armytage, Sam spent her early years on Bolaro sheep station, near Adaminaby in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, where her father worked as the station manager.

Though she left to go to boarding school in Sydney as a teenager — she attended the exclusive Kincoppal-Rose Bay school in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs — Armytage still speaks fondly of her time growing up “on the farm,” her country girl roots appealing to viewers and winning her a legion of fans.

“What I say comes from my country roots — it’s bred into me to be a straight shooter,” she told Whimn. “I am strong but feminine, and I fiercely maintain my femininity because newsrooms are very masculine places even in this current era.”

Samantha Armytage wearing a green uniform on her first day at Adaminaby Public School in 1982
School girl Sam on her first day at Adaminaby Public School in 1982. Photo: Instagram/sam_armytage.

Sam’s pastoralist family history began when pioneer British settler George Armytage arrived in Tasmania in 1817 where he was allotted a large parcel of land.

Instances of violence between the settlers and local Indigenous peoples ensued. George Armytage’s business partner Charles Franks was speared to death by a local Wathaurung person while he was claiming land in Geelong. Franks’ death sparked a ‘revenge’ attack which was, according to an August 23, 1836 report in The Sydney Gazette And New South Wales Advertiser, intended to be “a warning to the natives not in future to commit wanton excesses upon our countrymen.”

Sam’s ancestors continued to acquire land throughout Victoria, NSW and Queensland, amassing a significant fortune. In the early 1850s, George had enough capital to built a mansion, The Hermitage, at Newtown near Geelong. Years later, his son Charles bought Melbourne’s historic Como House where the Armytage family lived for almost a century.

Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise c-host Samantha Armytage poses in a red dress at the Santa arrival at Bondi Junction Westfield on November 16, 2007 in Sydney, Australia.
Sam, then co-host of Weekend Sunrise, attended a Christmas event in 2007. Photo: Getty Images.

How did Sam Armytage become famous?

Armytage is best known for her extensive broadcasting career, which began at WIN Television in Canberra in 1999, where she worked as a news reporter after graduating with a broadcasting degree from Charles Sturt University, Bathurst.

Three years later she joined Sky News as Chief Political Reporter before her considerable talents caught the eye of network executives at Seven. In 2003 she was asked to relocate to Sydney to work with them and by December 2004, Armytage was filling in regularly as a presenter on Seven News Sydney over the non-ratings period.

In June 2007, Armytage was made co-host of Weekend Sunrise alongside Andrew O'Keefe — she replaced Lisa Wilkinson, who by then had moved to co-host the Today Show on rival network, Nine.

She was a hit with viewers, but it wasn’t until Sam appeared on reality TV series Dancing With The Stars that she became a household name, her easy affability, and sometimes uncoordinated attempts to dance, winning her a legion of fans.

In June 2013, Armytage’s career was on the ascension, and it was announced she would replace Sunrise co-host Melissa Doyle — a position she continues to hold to this day.

“Viewers love her,” co-host David Koch told Stella magazine in 2017. “She has really brought a terrific element, that sense of humour.”

Racism controversies

Sam was accused of racism back in March 2015 during a Sunrise interview with non-identical British twins Lucy and Mary Aylmer — who come from a mixed-race family — where she appeared to praise one of the women for having lighter skin.

“Maria has taken after her half-Jamaican mum with dark skin, brown eyes and curly, dark hair but Lucy got her dad’s fair skin — good on her — along with straight red hair and blue eyes,” she said.

Following viewer backlash — and an online petition — Sam released a statement apologising to anyone she may have offended and said that racism is “not in my nature.”

In June 2020, a racial vilification lawsuit was launched against Sam and commentator Prue MacSween following a controversial segment on Indigenous adoption aired by the Seven Network.

During a March 2018 broadcast, the panel — which also included Brisbane radio personality Ben Davis — discussed the proposal for white families to take in Indigenous children, with Prue stating “we need to do it again” in reference to the Stolen Generations.

Prue MacSween (far left), Sam Armytage and Ben Davis during a segment on 'Aboriginal adoption' on Sunrise in 2018.
Prue MacSween (far left) and Sam are facing a racial vilification lawsuit over a segment on 'Aboriginal adoption' in 2018. Photo: Channel 7.

“Post-Stolen Generation, there's been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families,” Sam claimed, which is incorrect.

Eight Aboriginal complainants — led by Aboriginal elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor — were forced to initiate Federal Court action after settlement negotiations collapsed in a group racial discrimination complaint filed in the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“Sunrise platformed wealthy white women calling for a Stolen Generations 2.0 as a means of salvation for our young people,” Ms Dixon-Grovenor said.

A Seven spokesperson said the network was not aware of any actual claim being filed at this stage so could not comment on the case.

In late 2019, Seven settled with the Yirrkala community and the Yolngu families involved and “offered an unreserved apology on-air shortly after.”

Sam Armytage addressed accusations of racism on Twitter. Photo: Twitter/sam_armytage.
Sam Armytage addressed accusations of racism on Twitter. Photo: Twitter/sam_armytage.

Days after the Federal Court action was announced, Sam took to Twitter to address the controversy and refute accusations of racism.

“At no stage did I suggest a second Stolen Generation,” she wrote in reference to the 2018 Aboriginal adoption segment.

She also addressed the comments she made to the Aylmer twins in 2015, saying that she was being ‘self-deprecating’ and alluding to her ‘Irish heritage and troublesome pale skin’.

Sam added that she’s received ‘tens of thousands’ of threats of violence toward her and also her dog, Banjo.

Sunrise controversy

Controversy has followed Armytage in her career but reached a crescendo when she took over from popular host Melissa Doyle on Sunrise in 2013. As she said at the time, she never set out to “knife” her predecessor, though that was a rumour swirling at the time.

“I never really sort of coveted this job,” she said that year. “I was always happy doing what I was doing...Peter Meakin (then Seven’s News Director) rang me and floated that if Mel was to go anywhere would I like it...I was kind of shocked. I had never thought about it because I never thought Mel would leave.”

Armytage said at the time she was disappointed viewers saw it as a staged coup.

“Everything that has been written is total bull,” she insisted. “It’s a shame for Mel because she is a wonderful woman who has had, and continues to have, a wonderful career, and it's a shame for me because I didn't do anything wrong, I just got a promotion.”

Samantha Armytage and her Sunrise co-host David Koch playfully arm wrestle on the Sunrise TV set
Sam and her Sunrise co-host David Koch face off. Photo: Instagram/sam_armytage.

In recent times, Armytage has also got into trouble for comments she’s made on air. In 2015 she raised the ire of Sex and the City actress Kristen Davis after she took part in a themed skit on the show. Davis later asked that Armytage be stood down from her role hosting the charity’s fundraising event in Sydney as pushback for the fact the presenter hadn’t focused on her charitable work enough.

In March 2018, Armytage was in hot water again, this time for a Sunrise segment on Aboriginal adoption — protests were held outside the Sunrise studio in Martin Place Sydney in response to comments she made.

In recent months, Sam has taken the front-foot in addressing negative press reports, publicly taking on a well-known gossip commentator who has printed stories about her. Her brutal take-downs via her Instagram page, which boasts 230K followers, are popular with her followers.

“I have had years of false reports around me,” she told Who Magazine recently. “And I am fed up with them. Now I take them on.”

Does Sam Armytage have a partner?

She does, and they’re engaged!

Sam posted a photo of herself with her brand-new fiancé, Richard Lavender, to her Instagram on June 21, 2020, her left-hand ring finger sparkling with a solitaire diamond ring.

Sam Armytage, Richard Lavender show off engagement ring
Sam showed off her new engagement ring – and her new fiancé Richard Lavender. Picture: Sam Armytage Instagram

Though she’s only recently shared her love publicly. Armytage confirmed in November 2019 she was dating equestrian businessman Richard, whom she met at a friend’s party at Easter, 2018.

She told Who Magazine that her new boyfriend, who is substantially older than her at 61, was both a “decent” and “very honest” man.

“His eyes were the first thing I saw,” Armytage said. “We both enjoy horses, skiing, architecture, art...that’s really important to have a lot in common. And so far, so good.”

The pair first sparked engagement rumours back in September 2019 when they were spotted at luxe jeweller Jan Logan after returning from a romantic getaway in Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands.

Sam and Bowral-based businessman Richard reportedly split their time between her Bondi pad and his Southern Highlands home, where the ambassador for WW (formerly Weight Watchers) also owns a $2.2 million property.

Armytage's love life has been in and out of the press over the years and she’s dated a string of high profile business identities, including jet tycoon Paul O’Brien and Sydney hotelier Peter DeAngelis — she also reportedly once dated fellow news reporter, Michael Usher. In 2014 she also made headlines after accepting Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet’s offer of a date.

Samantha Armytage wears a red one-shoulder column gown at the 61st Annual TV WEEK Logie Awards at The Star Gold Coast on June 30, 2019 on the Gold Coast, Australia.
Sam stunned in red at the Logies in 2019. Photo Getty Images.

Sam Armytage weight

It pains us to have this as a category, but as Armytage herself has pointed out, people seem to want to know about the state of her waistline — and they constantly feel the need to bring it up.

“It’s funny, people bring it up all the time when they meet me and say, ‘Oh, you're not that big.’ Because TV does add weight,” she said in an interview some years ago. “During Dancing With The Stars I was a little bit heavier and I copped flack for that. I’ve since lost weight but my weight goes up and down.

“I'm a pretty normal girl. I have to be careful. I'm not built like a supermodel and I don't mind that. I'm pretty sturdy. I don't get sick very often. I can move my own furniture around the room if I feel like redecorating. I'm not a weakling.”

Samantha Armytage in 2016 (L) and in 2019 (R).
Sam (pictured left in 2016 and right in 2019) says she's lost 10kg thanks to WW (formerly Weight Watchers). Photo: Getty, Instagram/sevenstyling.

Last year, Armytage signed as a spokesperson for global weight loss company, Weight Watchers (WW), and has since lost 10kg on the program. According to some news reports, the star was paid around $500,000 to spruik the company, which has a “holistic approach” to weight management.

“It's not just about losing weight, it's about a holistic approach to life and about maintaining weight which is the hardest thing for me to do as a shift worker,” she said in May last year.

“I feel great, absolutely fantastic — don't forget I get up at 3.15 am so being a bit lighter and having more energy throughout the day really helps. It's a nice feeling and I want to keep going.”

Sam pays careful attention to her health and fitness, saying she finds everyday exercise essential to keep pace with her hectic early morning starts and busy lifestyle. She spends weekends outside gardening on her property, or at her partner’s extensive home, where the couple ride horses and take walks.

Samantha Armytage and her golden retriever dog Banjo on the Sunrise TV set
Sam and Banjo on 'take your kid to work day'. Photo: Instagram/sam_armytage.

Is Sam Armytage pregnant?

The gossip magazines would love you to think she is, but she is — as far as we know — not expecting a child, nor has any plans to get pregnant any time soon. The 43-year-old is, however, mum to a rather adorable fur baby — her three-year-old Labrador, Banjo, who she bought in 2017, saying she was in search of a “loyal” companion.

“I have got no time for disloyalty,” she told Stella magazine. “That’s why I got a dog.”

What is Samantha Armytage’s net worth?

Samantha Armytage has carved out a successful career in the media over twenty years. Her current role as co-host of Sunrise reportedly nets her around $500,000 per year (some news outlets have said this is around half what her male co-host, David Koch, earns). It was recently reported that she and Kochie have both taken pay cuts due to the Coronavirus crisis.

Armytage is also reportedly being paid close to half a million dollars for her brand association with Weight Watchers. In addition to this, she owns a $2.2million property in New South Wales’ Southern Highlands, as well as a home in Bondi, which she bought a year after starting her Sunrise gig for a reported $2.15 million.

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