The A&E reality series Duck Dynasty, which ended April 2017, follows the lives of the deeply religious Robertson family, who have amassed a vast fortune by creating a line of duck hunting products. There’s no doubt that they’ve been interesting people to watch on screen, even if patriarch Phil Robertson holds some unsavory and controversy-courting opinions. But for all the family’s apparent outspokenness, there are still some things they’ve never dared bring up on the show.
20. Phil Robertson once threw his wife and children out
Before he became famous, Phil Robertson led a drink-fueled and troubled life. In fact, he once even ended up throwing his wife and kids out of their trailer. As a result, his wife Kay turned to Christianity and would pray for his salvation. Now he’s a Christian too, and they both credit Jesus for saving their marriage.
19. The family once skipped a planned autograph session
When the Robertson family were at the height of their fame, plenty of people wanted to meet them. However, in April 2013 they disappointed a lot of their devoted viewers by walking out of an event before a planned signing. “Fans were really angry,” an unnamed source told Radar Online.
18. Phil Robertson has made racist remarks, but has a black grandchild
In 2013 Phil Robertson made some comments about black people that were insensitive, to say the very least. But in 2016 he gained a black grandson when his son and daughter-in-law Jep and Jessica Robertson adopted a fifth child. “He loves him,” Jep told Good Morning America.
17. Uncle Si nearly killed civilians in Vietnam
Friendly Si Robertson, known to Duck Dynasty fans as Uncle Si, wasn’t always so playful and cheerful. Indeed, in his 2013 book Si-cology he revealed that while serving in Vietnam he became so drunk that he nearly killed civilians, including a child.
16. Lisa Robertson had an abortion she regretted
Lisa Robertson and her husband published a book in 2015, and in it she confessed that she’d had an abortion when she was 17. The whole Robertson family are very anti-abortion, but she wanted to help others “find healing and comfort from Jesus in it.”
15. Phil Robertson once beat up two people in a bar fight
Before finding religion, Phil Robertson ran a bar. But when his landlords tried to raise his rent, he beat them to a pulp and ran off to the woods until the heat died down. His wife detailed the incident in her 2014 book; she also described her husband as being “mean and threatening” during his younger days.
14. Non-profane words were sometimes bleeped out on the show
In a 2013 interview with Sports Spectrum TV, Phil Robertson said that sometimes the showmakers would make out that there had been swearing when, in fact, there had been none. He said, “They inserted fake bleeps… like somebody had used profanity, but no one had used profanity.”
13. Phil Robertson pioneered an unpleasant method of killing ducks
Prior to Duck Dynasty there was the YouTube series Duck Men. This saw Phil Robertson and his family kill ducks by, basically, crunching the birds’ heads with their teeth. “It’s a very quick way to put a duck out of its misery,” Robertson told Grand View Outdoors in 2010.
12. The Robertsons aren’t very hygienic
This comes from straight out of Phil Robertson’s mouth. Indeed, while being interviewed for Men’s Journal in 2013, he admitted, “There’s not a lot of personal hygiene going on.” So no deodorant, no hair combing, no flossing and very little showering, then – at least among the men.
11. Phil Robertson has made very homophobic comments
Phil Robertson angered a lot of people when he revealed himself as a homophobe in a 2013 GQ interview. He said that he believed that gay people were “not logical” and wouldn’t “inherit the kingdom of God.” This caused enough outrage to see him suspended from the show… albeit for just nine days.
10. The show’s producers were sued for fraud
Even the production team of Duck Dynasty isn’t safe from controversy. In December 2016 Duck Dynasty producers Scott and Deidre Gurney were handed a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit by ITV America. The case was brought on the grounds of “unauthorized distributions” and “numerous misrepresentations.”
9. Jep Robertson has been addicted to drugs and pornography
Like his father Phil, Jep Robertson suffered with addiction. His vices were pornography and drugs, and he even once tried a “wet daddy,” a joint soaked in formaldehyde. These problems nearly put an end to his marriage before he found God.
8. Phil Robertson isn’t fond of atheists
Unsurprisingly for a conservative Christian, Phil doesn’t like people who have no religious faith. And in 2015 he caused controversy once again by explaining his belief in God via a bizarre imaginary scenario. It involved a hypothetical atheist’s wife and children being murdered and raped. And Phil presented it at a prayer breakfast, no less.
7. The males of the family are contractually obliged to keep their beards
The beards are perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Duck Dynasty, so the Robertson men are actually required to keep them. Talking to Good Day L.A., the occasionally beardless Alan Robertson explained of his family that “their beards are in their contracts, they have to keep them a certain length.”
6. Phil Robertson disciplined his children harshly
Phil Robertson’s sons and fellow Duck Dynasty stars Al and Jep have both said that he beat them as children whenever they misbehaved. In Jep’s 2015 book, he wrote about how his father would whip him with a belt and then “quote some scripture about training or discipline.”
5. Scott Robinson was suicidal as a child
Si’s son Scott was “trouble before he was even born,” according to an interview his father gave to Fox News in 2017. “Suicidal from the time he was about five years old,” Si added. Scott even tried to jump off a bridge aged 11, but thankfully he was then properly diagnosed and given medication.
4. Phil Robertson has claimed the producers tried to remove references to Jesus
Speaking to Sports Spectrum TV in 2015, Phil Robertson claimed that the Duck Dynasty producers had cut certain prayers from the show. He subsequently alleged that they didn’t want to “offend some of the Muslims or something.” However, his son Alan later told TheBlaze that no faith-based censorship had ever happened.
3. Jep has talked about being sexually abused as a child
In his 2015 book Jep Robertson wrote about being sexually abused by an older girl on a school bus when he was six. He said that although he was never able to talk about it with his parents back then, he’s since come to terms with the incidents.
2. Phil Robertson believes men should marry underage girls
In 2013 some shocking footage surfaced of Phil speaking at a 2009 Christian retreat. In it he stated, “You got to marry [girls] when they are about 15 or 16.” In fact, he himself married his wife when she was 16 and she was 20. What’s more, she’d already had their first child by then.
1. Some of Duck Dynasty was paid for by the taxpayer
In 2014 it was revealed that thanks to Louisiana’s 35 percent subsidies for film and TV productions, taxpayers were actually funding a lot of Duck Dynasty’s shooting costs. Indeed, taxpayer subsidies ran to approximately $70,000 per episode. Moreover, commentators pointed out that gay people were essentially paying for Phil Robertson to discriminate against them.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the drama behind the A&E Network is confined to Duck Dynasty, though. Nope, if you thought that was bad, you should hear about what goes on behind the scenes of Storage Wars. From multiple lawsuits to on-set brawls, here are the juicy secrets producers would probably prefer to keep locked up.
20. One of its stars has claimed that it’s rigged
Dave Hester brought Storage Wars into disrepute in 2012 after claiming it was rigged. According to the storage hunter, producers often stashed items in units to make the reveal more exciting. Strangely, though, A&E didn’t dispute Hester’s version of events, simply arguing instead that its behavior was protected by the First Amendment.
19. The show allegedly paid for Brandi to have a boob job
That wasn’t the only scandalous claim that Hester made at the time, however. To wit, the outspoken star also alleged that Storage Wars producers paid for cast member Brandi Passante to have a boob job. Original Productions reportedly did so in an effort to make the show more racy.
18. Jarrod served a prison sentence
Long-time bidder Jarrod Schulz has hinted at his criminal past on the show without ever revealing any specifics. It turns out, though, that he spent 16 months in jail at the turn of the century for various misdemeanours. His rap sheet includes a DUI, possession of a controlled substance and narcotics offences.
17. Jarrod made it big thanks to his aunt
However, Jarrod has managed to turn his life around, and he has one of his relatives to thank for doing so. Specifically, he first became interested in storage auctions after spending time at his aunt’s public storage facility. Since then, he’s opened up his own thrift store with partner Brandi and, of course, become an unlikely reality star.
16. One cast member killed himself
The show’s most tragic moment occurred in 2013 when storage hunter Mark Balelo died from carbon monoxide poisoning in an apparent suicide. Just days earlier, the cast member had been arrested for methamphetamine possession. He’d also been charged with three similar offences back in 2007.
15. Barry got his start selling fruit and vegetables
Barry Weiss may have gained reality show fame as a storage hunter, but he’s actually spent the majority of his career in the wholesale produce industry supplying various restaurants, hotels and cruise ships. Weiss, who left the show in 2013, initially only began collecting antiques as a hobby before finally taking it up full-time.
14. Barry’s a legal medical marijuana user
Barry is also a major advocate of a very different type of produce. According to reports, the storage hunter has carried a legal medical marijuana card for some time. He reportedly began taking the drug to help with a back injury he suffered in his youth.
13. Laura made a bid for Dan
Dan and Laura Dotson have proved that sometimes you can mix business with pleasure. They first met in 1996, but Laura had spotted Dan at various auctions before then and knew instantly that he was the man she was going to marry. Four months later, moreover, she fell pregnant, and the auctioneers have remained partners ever since.
12. Dan nearly met his maker
However, the Dotsons had a huge scare in 2014 when Dan was given just a slim chance of surviving a double brain aneurysm. Thankfully, the auctioneer’s surgery proved to be successful, and he was back at his California home just a week later. And following his brush with death, Dan packed in smoking after a 40-year habit.
11. Darrell threatened to quit in a pay dispute
Darrell Sheets reportedly threatened to quit the show over a pay dispute in 2015. In particular, Sheets was left seething after hearing that producers wanted to slash his salary by 50 percent. He also wasn’t too pleased about plans to reduce his number of episodes to just four out of 26.
10. Brandon has claimed that he wasn’t appreciated
Darrell eventually settled his dispute, but son Brandon later left the show in acrimonious circumstances. In a series of tweets, Brandon revealed that he’d been ditched by Storage Wars due to budgetary constraints. He also claimed that he’d been degraded during his stint on the show and questioned producers’ attitudes in general.
9. A brawl once broke out on set
Dave Hester even continued to court controversy upon his return to the show. For instance, after he alerted Dan Dotson to an error during a 2015 shoot, a fight broke out between the pair. Hester allegedly punched the auctioneer in his face before Laura came to her husband’s defense, and A&E were forced to swiftly shut down production as a consequence.
8. Kevin’s son was charged with murder
Kevin Pew, star of Storage Wars’ Miami spin-off, made the news in 2015 when his son was charged with first-degree murder. Hashim Pew allegedly fatally shot a family friend at a viewing party for the show. After reportedly wrestling the gun out of the 23-year-old’s hands, Kevin then was said to have restrained him until police arrived.
7. Dan and Laura were once cyber hacked
In 2012 the Dotsons became the unfortunate victims of a cyber attack, with hackers stealing various credit card and bank details from the auctioneers’ home computer. However, the thieves made the basic error of using the personal information to make multiple major purchases in quick succession. This alerted the couple’s credit card companies, and their cards were subsequently blocked.
6. Hester and Trey Songz sued each other
Now this is surely the most bizarre Storage Wars story. Troublesome cast member David Hester was once involved in a legal spat with R&B star Trey Songz. And the reason? Both parties wanted to sell merchandise emblazoned with their catchphrase “YUUUP.” The pair eventually dropped their respective lawsuits in 2012.
5. The Dotsons once uncovered a real pirate’s chest
The Dotsons briefly swapped Storage Wars for Pirates of the Caribbean in 2011 when they stumbled across a real-life treasure chest. The pair discovered the booty in California while auctioning off a foreclosed storage locker. What’s more, the box may date to as long ago as the 1500s, while its contents were described by an expert as “Pieces of Eight Spanish Gold.”
4. The show once found a coffer full of defaced bills
A Storage Wars bidder discovered another treasure trove in 2011, albeit one that was far more macabre than the Dotsons’. Specifically, the buyer found $24,000 in cash in the storage locker he’d spent just $400 on. However, that fortunate win was tempered by the fact that the previous owner had bizarrely removed the faces from every single bill. Luckily, though, the money was still accepted as legal tender.
3. Brandi won a lawsuit against a porn distributor
In 2013 Brandi Passante won damages from a porn distributor accused of posting a fake clip of her. The Storage Wars star was hoping to receive $2.5 million in the case against Is Anyone Up? site owner Hunter Moore. However, although the judge ruled in her favor, he only offered her a paltry $750.
2. Darrell met his fiancée on the open road
The story of how Darrell met his one-time fiancée could be labeled either highly romantic or highly creepy. The storage hunter first saw ex-partner Kimber Wuerfel while driving in California, then followed her car for several miles before jotting his phone number down on some paper and holding it against his car window. Incredibly, the tactic worked.
1. Barry is Jesse James’ godfather
Turns out that Barry Weiss is godfather to the star of another reality show star: namely, motorcycle customizer Jesse James. The storage hunter also played a part in one of his godson’s most infamous moments, the controversial photo in which James made a Nazi salute.