Hopeless romantic? Jennifer Lopez’s ex-husband Ojani Noa‘s response to Ben Affleck’s wedding reveals what he really thinks about his ex-wife and Bennifer.
Ojani, J-Lo’s first husband who was married to her from 1997 to 1998, told The Daily Mail on July 30, 2022, that he wish his ex-wife and her new husband “the best” but doubts they “will last.” “Ben is husband number four. I was husband number one and she told me I was the love of her life. When we lay in bed on our wedding night, she said we would be together forever,” Ojani said, claiming that J-Lo just “loves being in love.”
Ojani also told The Daily Mail that he predicts J-Lo will be married “seven or eight times” in her lifetime and that he can’t see her “ever settling down with one person.” “I wish her and Ben the best, but I’m not convinced it will last,” Ojani said. “I think she’s someone who will be married seven or eight times. I can’t see her ever settling down with one person. She pushes herself to constantly go forward in her professional life, which is why she’s had a three-decade career, but she also moves on in her private life.”
There is one way Ojani sees J-Lo and Ben’s marriage lasting, however, and it’s if J-Lo’s mother, Guadalupe Rodriguez, approves of Ben. “If Ben has Lupe on his side then maybe he’s got a chance,” Ojani said. J-Lo has been married four times and been engaged six times to five different men. Her first marriage was to waiter Ojani Noa from 1997 to 1998. Her second marriage was to dancer Cris Judd from 2001 to 2003. Her third marriage was to singer Marc Anthony from 2004 to 2014. Marc and J-Lo also share two children: 14-year-old twins Emme Maribel Muñiz and Maximilian David Muñiz. J-Lo’s fourth marriage is to Ben Affleck, whom she married in July 2022. J-Lo and Ben first started dating in 2002 and got engaged that year. They were set to wed in 2003 but cancelled their wedding before splitting in 2004. J-Lo and Ben reunited in 2021 after ended her engagement to Alex Rodriguez, whom she dated from 2017 to 2021.
In his interview with The Daily Mail, Ojani—a Cuban refugee who fled his home when he was 15 in an inflatable boat—explained that he met J-Lo when he was 22 years old while he worked as a dishwasher and waiter at Gloria Estefan’s Ocean Drive restaurant Lario’s On The Beach. “Miami was buzzing. I did some modelling. I hustled. I wanted the American dream – and I found it when Jen walked into Lario’s,” he said. “I had no idea who she was. Our eyes glanced at each other and I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.”
The next night J-Lo returned to the restaurant, where Noa served her another customer’s French fries after the “On the Floor” singer said they looked “yummy.” “I was smitten. She was wearing a white top and trousers, and I remember thinking she had the best body I’d ever seen. She later told me she knew that first night she was going to marry me,” he said. That night, J-Lo and Ojani partied at the club Commune, where he learned from J-Lo’s friend that she was interested in him.”When we got to the club my friend Leo took Jen to the dance floor, and I thought, ‘Oh man, you’re a lucky guy.’ Then [her friend] said, ‘When they get back, take Jen out there. It’s you she’s interested in,’” he said. “They get back and I take her hand and lead her on to the floor, and a slow song comes on. It was electric. She was shaking and said, ‘You make me nervous.’ “We could both feel the romantic energy. It was instant and intense. Like it was surging through our bodies. I said, ‘I feel the same way you’re feeling.’ I lifted her chin and gave her a kiss – it was a kiss like we’d known each other forever.”
During that kiss, Ojani recalled a fan seeing them and saying, “Oh my God, that’s Jennifer Lopez from Money Train,” which is when Ojani realized how famous J-Lo was.“That’s when I realized maybe she was somebody,” he said. “The next morning my pager goes off. Jen had to see me before her flight. The door goes and I open it and she falls into my arms. We kissed, and as she drove off in her limo, she looked back like in the movies and I thought, ‘This is it. This is crazy,’”
While J-Lo was in Los Angeles, Ojani would talk to her on the payphone of the restaurant he worked at. When J-Lo returned to Miami, she invited him to be her date at the premiere of the movie, Blood and Wine.“I rented a cheap suit. We got to the red carpet, there were all these flashing lights and fans screaming. I started to feel sick. I walked down the carpet holding her hand then stood to the side while she gave interviews. “I heard her say, ‘Jack, I want you to meet my date, Ojani.’” he recalled “I turned around and she was introducing me to Jack Nicholson. Then she said, ‘This is Michael’ – and it was Michael Caine. I felt like I was in a movie. A few years earlier I was on a dinghy in the ocean running away from Fidel Castro, and now I’m on a red carpet. Michael Caine was lovely. He said, ‘Don’t worry, you will get used to it.’”
Ojani revealed to The Daily Mail that the night of the premiere was the first time he and J-Lo had sex. “That was the first time we made love. It was perfect. She was perfect. We lay there afterwards and she said, ‘I want you to always be in my life. I love you.’ I felt like Mr. Cinderella,” he said. “She’s a traditional girl. She comes from a humble Puerto Rican family. She wanted someone to protect her, someone who would stand up for her. We fell totally in love.” He continued, “I quit my job and moved to LA. We lived in a nice apartment. But soon we moved into our first house and then the houses kept getting bigger. She loved that I was a balseros [rafter] from Cuba. I never wanted anything from her. I always worked and had my own money. We’d been together about six months when she got Selena. We went to San Antonio, Texas, for the shoot and every night we’d come back to the hotel and she’d collapse in my arms filled with insecurity. She didn’t think she was good enough. In the middle of the night she would burst into tears. I comforted her and said she was the best, that she was killing it.”
Ojani told The Daily Mail that it was around the time J-Lo was filming Selena that he knew he wanted to propose to her. “She loves shopping, and when she wasn’t filming we went to the local mall. One day we went into a jewelry store and she started looking at rings. She pointed at one and said, ‘I love that one,’” he said. “She left and I pretended I needed to go to the restroom. I snuck back in the store and told the girl to put it to one side. I had money saved up. I’d been working as her personal trainer but also had modelling money. The ring was $15,000 – a fortune back then. I hid the ring in a plastic bag behind the sink.” Ojani proposed to J-Lo at the wrap party for Selena. “Everyone was cheering. I went down on one knee and gave her the ring. She was crying and laughing and said ‘Yes!’” he said.
However, tension between J-Lo and Ojani started when her mother, Guadalupe Rodriguez, criticized her for having her wedding in Florida instead of her hometown in the Bronx. “Jen would be in tears all the time. Her mom was calling and yelling at her, trying to get her to change the venue. So I called Lupe and said, ‘You need to stop this.’ That was a big mistake. From then on there was tension between me and Lupe,” he said. J-Lo’s increased fame also changed their relationship. “She went from Jen to being J-Lo, this big business bringing in millions. She had all these new people around her, all wanting to make money off her. I would call and an assistant would say, ‘Sorry, she’s not available,’” he said.
When Ojani was hired to open J-Lo’s Los Angeles nightclub, he remembered seeing photos of her and P. Diddy, who was producing J-Lo’s music at the time in New York and who J-Lo would later date. “I rang Jen and asked why she was going out with him on dates and she said, ‘It’s just business. This is what I’m being told I have to do,.’” Ojani said. “I was jealous and would scream, ‘But you are married!’ We wanted kids, we discussed having kids. Then she told me she couldn’t have a baby because it would interfere with her career.”
Ojani also recalled an interview with him and J-Lo on The Oprah Winfrey Show where J-Lo denied that her marriage had issues. “Our whole life became a lie,” Ojani, remembering he lost 40 pounds due to the stress of his relationship. “We went to the Golden Globes and sat with Jack [Nicholson]. He said, ‘You guys look so happy.’ I told him, ‘It’s not what it seems.’ He told me to hang in there. I never thought I would be getting relationship advice from Jack Nicholson.”
After 11 months of marriage, J-Lo and Ojani divorced. J-Lo went on to date P. Diddy soon after. In his settlement agreement with J-Lo, Ojani was left with $50,000 and kept his wedding ring.“There were times she told me she wanted to get back together. In quiet moments she would say, ‘I need you in my life. I don’t want to lose you,’” Ojani said. In 2002, four years after their divorce, J-Lo hired Ojani to manage a restaurant she owned in Los Angeles. After she fired him three years later, Ojani sued J-Lo, settled with her and moved back to Florida, where he remains single. Ojani also told The Daily Mail that he thinks his marriage with J-Lo would have lasted if it were not for “parasites who feed off celebrities” and reports that characterized him as a “penniless waiter.”
For more about J-Lo’s life, check out True Love by Jennifer Lopez. The 2014 memoir covers the “Jenny on the Block” singer’s career and personal life, from her start as a dancer to when she became a mom of two twins with her now-ex-husband Marc Anthony. In the book, which includes more than 200 personal photographs from J-Lo’s never-before-seen collection, the Selena actress writes about how “she confronted her greatest challenges, identified her biggest fears, and ultimately emerged a stronger person than she’s ever been” to become the pop icon we know today.
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