Skip to main content

Watch: Beloved MN sign language interpreter profiled on Today Show

Nic Zapko's work made her an internet celebrity last year.

First, she gets her own "day" in Minnesota, and now, the spotlight on one of America's most popular morning news shows.

You might not know her by name, but you've almost certainly seen Nic Zapko. Since the start of the pandemic and through the civil unrest that followed George Floyd's death, she's been at Gov. Tim Walz's side as his sign language interpreter, relating important news and safety information to Minnesota's deaf and hard of hearing.

She became a celebrity in her own right owing to her highly expressive and accurate sign language interpretations, building quite a following social media. 

On Friday, Zapko and her meteoric rise to fame were the subject of a profile on NBC's Today. The report goes into Zapko's life story and explores how her job as the governor's ASL interpreter actually works (bet ya didn't know it's a job that requires two interpreters!).

Today correspondent Joe Fryer also talks to Zapko about her trademark facial expressions and animated gestures — and what makes them so important to deaf viewers.

You can check out the video right here:

The Today Show appearance comes a month after Gov. Walz, in a surprise press-conference move, proclaimed March 9, 2021, "Nic Zapko Day."

Not coincidentally, it was also her birthday, and the announcement caught her totally off guard.

The governor said Zapko's translations ensure thousands of Minnesotans have access to real-time information that will keep them safe.

He described her as "by far the most popular person on this podium and the most well-known."

Next Up


Minnesota health officials warn monkeypox cases could grow rapidly

The state has so far confirmed only six cases of monkeypox virus.


Bodies of woman, three young children recovered from Vadnais Lake

Authorities say the bodies recovered were those of two boys, one girl and their mother.

Pixabay laptop keyboard phone dark

Charges: Duluth man had hundreds of child porn images, videos

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found nearly 330 images on the man's electronic devices.

hennepin county sheriff water patrol lake minnetonka

Scuba diver found dead in Lake Minnetonka identified as 20-year-old

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said 20-year-old Brady Alan Aune, from Elko New Market, died of freshwater drowning on June 3.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 11.18.35 AM

Felony charges filed after authorities search 'Peacebunny Cottage'

The president of the rabbit rescue non-profit faces multiple animal cruelty charges after over 40 rabbits were found dead inside the organization's barn.

monkeypox virus

Minnesota up to 6 confirmed cases of monkeypox virus

Most people recover at home within 2-4 weeks.

thc edibles

Did Minnesota just accidentally legalize THC?

A Republican lawmaker who voted to approve the new law in May is already talking about rolling it back.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 3.19.42 PM

Gasoline may be cause of sewer explosion on U of M campus

An all-clear was given around 9 p.m. Thursday, with residents in the area allowed to return to their homes.


Overwhelming demand for THC products on first day of new law in MN

One shop owner said his Chaska store broke the online sales record before they opened Friday morning.

Flickr - Lake Minnetonka boat - Greg Gjerdingen

Increased drunk boating enforcement over 4th of July weekend

The increased enforcement is part of the Operation Dry Water initiative.


Four kayakers stranded, rescued in Chisholm park

The kayakers became stranded at Redhead Mountain Bike Park Thursday afternoon.


zapko and walz

Walz surprises sign language interpreter by declaring March 9 'Nic Zapko Day'

Walz said Zapko is "by far the most popular person on this podium and the most well-known."

Rep. Joe McDonald

'No respect': MN lawmaker shows up to debate in pirate costume

He was called out on Twitter by Rep. Kaohly Vang Her.

Jana shortal

Watch: KARE 11's Jana Shortal appears on the 'TODAY' show

The Twin Cities broadcaster continues to attract national attention.

Screen Shot 2021-10-29 at 9.38.56 AM

MN 'Tiny Mom' with big babies goes viral, is featured on 'TODAY Show'

Her 7-month-old twins combine to weigh 36.5% of her body weight.

Pamela Espeland (1)

Beloved MinnPost writer who amplified MN arts scene dies suddenly

The arts community is remembering her impact and mourning her death.