Earnest grew up near Kansas City, Mo. His mother is a psychologist and father the athletic director of a private school in Kansas City. It wasn't exactly a political family.
"The only thing I really remember about politics growing up was my parents taking me with them when they went to vote,” Earnest told McClatchy Newspapers in 2012. He had other interests -- namely baseball and basketball.
"He’s definitely the quintessential coach’s son,” Adam Moore, a childhood friend, told McClatchy. “He has probably the best baseline jumper you’ve ever seen from the left-hand corner baseline. He could hit that three-pointer every time.”
The political bug bit, and Earnest worked on the campaign of former Houston mayor Lee Brown after graduating from Rice. Earnest went on to New York, where he served as an aide on former mayor Michael Bloomberg's first campaign, and became spokesman at the Democratic National Committee.
Earnest married Natalie Wyeth, now assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of the Treasury, in 2012. The couple is expecting a child. Earnest proposed to Wyeth in Hawaii during one of Obama's annual trips.
Earnest is well-regarded among the White House press corps, and his name has long been floated as a replacement for Carney.
Obama, who surprised reporters at the briefing Friday, recalled Earnest knocking on doors while press secretary in Iowa.
"In that role, you'd find him spending an extra hour or two helping young staffers make phone calls or knock on doors," the president said. "There was no task that was too small, no detail too unimportant for Josh to attend to."
Earnest should also be in line for a nice raise. According to the White House website, Carney makes $172,200 a year; Earnest pulls in $135,000.