Do you have any idea what the most-watched non-fiction cable television series is or was? That’s a lot of adjectives so allow me to provide examples of other often-watched non-fiction television series — Locked Up Abroad, MythBusters, Ancient Aliens, etc. Okay, those shows are popular, but they’re not like, Breaking Bad popular. They’re not Madmen level addictive. So let’s talk AMC, the network that aired both of those immensely popular series broke cable records in 2013 when over 11 million viewers tuned in to watch the season three premiere of, you guessed it, Duck Dynasty.
This clan of filthy rich Louisiana bumpkins are responsible for a $500 million advertising and merchandising revenue per year, a likes of which hasn’t been seen since The Simpsons. Have you ever been to a Wal-Mart south of the Mason-Dixon Line? It’s just a forest of Duck Dynasty shirts as far as the eyes can see. But with AMC’s most popular television show coming to an end this year after eleven seasons, there are still a lot of little factoids about America’s favorite bearded boys that you may not know. So, without further ado, here are 15 things you didn’t know about Duck Dynasty:
15. Phil Robertson Was Good At Football, Like, Really Good
Terry Bradshaw is an NFL Hall of Famer with four Superbowl rings and eight AFC championships. His arm strength is gridiron legend and he historically called all of his own plays in the huddle. He also played backup to Duck Dynasty family patriarch, Phil Robertson, in college. That’s right, that long-haired, white-bearded bean pole propped up in some Louisiana lake was starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech back in 1966. He would have had a promising NFL career ahead of him if he hadn’t given it up in 1968 because football season interfered with hunting season. Bradshaw has stated that he remembers Robertson coming to practice right from the woods with “squirrel tails hanging out of his pockets, and duck feathers on his clothes.” Robertson hung up his cleats forever letting Bradshaw take over his first string slot and inevitably become the first overall pick in the 1970 NFL draft.
14. There’s Another Brother
Willie, Jase and Jep — those are the Robertson boys, right? Actually, you’re wrong… well, not entirely wrong. Those are, in fact, the Robertson brethren but not all of them. They also have an older brother named Alan who did make an appearance in season four but still, no one seems to talk about. Alan Robertson is the only offspring of Phil and Kay Robertson to not go into the family business. Instead, he turned his love of the lord into a career and became a man of the cloth. However, after season three brought in ten million viewers, the camera shy Alan decided to give it a second thought and joined his family on screen…sans beard. He took on a role in public relations for the family and figured becoming a television personality might be one heck of a way to spread the word of Jesus.
13. Uncle Si Isn’t A Lonely Old Man
People seem to think Phil Robertson’s brother, Si (or Uncle Si as he’s adoringly known to friends, family and viewers) is as lonely as he is goofy. But on the contrary, the man has been happily married for 46 years. The couple has two children together, and his wife, Christine, chooses not to be on the show because as Si puts it, “she has more sense than the rest of us.” And as adorable of an explanation as that may be, it isn’t the true blue reason. Si recently spoke on the real reason why the love of his life remains unseen by the public, “Sometimes we film 12-hour days. She’s just not healthy enough to go through the rigors of that. But, ah, it ain’t no big deal, she wants no part of it anyway. She’s been married to me for 46 years.The last thing she needs is to watch us on a TV show.”
12. Phil Liked The Hooch More Than God
Phil and his wife, Kay, were high school sweethearts and by the time Phil was playing for Louisiana Tech, the couple already had a few children. You would imagine dealing with a young family while simultaneously balancing the popularity of being a star college quarterback would take its toll; but on the contrary, the dark days didn’t come until after Phil had left school. According to the couple who have now been married for over four decades, Phil was really living life like a bachelor on wheels. “The drinking got worse,” Kay said in a documentary about the family, “and I knew then but I didn’t want to believe it; [he] was running around on me. And what I would tell my boys all the time is, ‘That’s not your daddy. That’s the devil in your daddy’.” And whether the devil had indeed infiltrated the soul of Phil or not, he turned over a new leaf after Kay convinced him to seek the counsel of a pastor.
“You can only run the sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll so far,” Phil says in a teaser for the film. “It’s only when you meet Jesus and you look back at where you were that you end up saying things like, ‘What was I thinking?’ ”
11. Willie Has Spent His Money On Some Pretty Zany Stuff
When you have money to burn, you buy ridiculous stuff. Sometimes that “stuff” is useless garbage while other times it has to do with a hobby you might be into. Maybe that hobby is collecting stamps or building model cars, or in the case of Willie Robertson, collecting an array of vehicles and painting them with camouflage detailing. The CEO of Duck Commander was recently showing off his F-150 Ford truck with custom hand-painted “tree bark” styled detailing. “It almost looks reptilian, which is why I like it,” he told the magazine. “It’s all hand done, and I always panic I’m going to get into an accident because I think trying to fix it would be difficult, with it being hand painted,” he added. But the truck is hardly the standout prize in the collection. His 2007 BMW Z4 with its “duckoflaged” paint job definitely takes the title of most adored ride. “We use it in festivals, and I’ve loaned it out to people to drive around,” Robertson said, “It’s just a fun little car.”
10. The Story Behind Si’s Cup
If you watch Duck Dynasty, then you’re aware of Uncle Si’s little green Tupperware cup. If you haven’t seen the show then allow me to bring you up to speed. Si is never seen without this tall, skinny cup. He takes it everywhere he goes. Period. To the naked eye, it’s nothing more than a cheap plastic cup filled with iced tea, but the story behind it is actually quite charming. When Si was stationed in Vietnam in the late 60’s, his mother sent him a care package consisting of beans, rice, two jars of jalapeno peppers stuffed into two boots (because apparently Si loves jalapeno peppers), and a set of Tupperware cups. Si hasn’t put the cup down in over forty years. How many mothers out there can say their child has ever gotten that much mileage out of a gift?
9. Jase Dated His Wife To Make His Ex Jealous
I’m a sucker for a good “how’d you two meet” story and the origin story of Jase Robertson and his wife, Missy is a fun one. The two married just before Jase turned 20, and apparently, their courtship began out of jealousy. The middle Robertson brother had been dating one of Missy’s friends originally. That was until he found out she had been seeing someone else simultaneously. So, Jase did what any spiteful young man in his position would do, he dated her friend (at the time) Missy. “We decided to go on a date just to make her mad and that’s how we started out,” Missy told Fox News, “we went to a school function just to make sure she and a bunch of people saw us.” Still, when the date ended, Missy left without even a kiss but from there a lifelong love affair has apparently bloomed. Ain’t young love sweet?
8. Phil Married His Wife Young… Very Young!
Back in the day, people married younger than they do nowadays. The average age of couples getting hitched in 2017 is around 28-years-old. But fifty years ago, it was 22-years-old. Now, Phil Robertson has stated that his upbringing in the 1950’s resembled the 1850’s much more than it did the baby-boomer generation. He said that they lived off the land hunting squirrels for food and other Deliverance-style nonsense. So it would make sense that the timing of his proposal to his wife, Kay, would sync up more appropriately with that of the Frontier Era. Phil got hitched to his high school sweetheart when she was only 16-years-old. For those of you at home reading this who are around that age, think about that for a second. Instead of the new emoji update taking top priority in life you’d instead be picking out wedding dresses that won’t even fit you for very long because in a few years you’ll be pregnant three times over…as was Kay. The couple greeted their first-born when they were still in college. But hey, when you know, you know, right?
7. Duck Commander Wasn’t Exactly A Quick Seller
People know the Robertson family for two reasons: 1) They’re a clan of bearded kooks who invade your living room via your television every week and 2) They invented the “Duck Commander” which is regarded as the best duck-calling device on the market. Number two came before number one and it made them millionaires, but it wasn’t always such a hot ticket. In 1972, around the inception of Phil Robertson’s famed duck call, the company pulled a measly $8,000 for the entire year. Imagine surviving on that salary with a wife and kids at home. But quality matched with persistence paid off and slowly but surely, the world began to know the greatness that is the Duck Commander duck call. It wasn’t until a few years later, when Phil’s son, Willie, took over as CEO that it really expanded into what it is today. They even have a deer call aptly named, “Buck Commander.”
6. Viewers Can’t Tell Them Apart
If you’re a fan of Duck Dynasty, it’s difficult to tell Jase, Willie and Jep apart. They all generally look the same especially with their long hair and thick beards and all that jazz. And if you’re a die-hard fan of the show, don’t crucify me by saying they have their own unique traits, because I mean, c’mon, they all look the same. So, imagine if you were a producer of the show and had to make scheduling arrangements with these guys. It would be tough to know if the right Robertson brother showed up at the correct time and location. But the studio big wigs had a simple solution to this silly problem. They merely told them to pick signature headwear and stick with it for the duration of the series. Not only does it make each brother more marketable, but it makes them easy to be differentiated in large crowds and/or prison lineups. This is why you always see Jase with his black beanie and Willie with his signature stars and stripes bandanna.
5. People Think They’re Homeless
While we’re on the topic of long hair and longer beards, I think it’s important to discuss the striking resemblance the Robertson brothers not only have to each other, but also a crude artist’s rendering of a stereotypical homeless man. And when you take that element and place it into an area like the Northeast where viewership of Duck Dynasty plummets compared to that of the middle America, you get a situation that Jase referred to as “facial profiling.” Back in 2013, Jase was in New York City to appear on Live! With Kelly and Michael and the first thing that happened to him when he got to the Big Apple was getting kicked out of his hotel. Apparently, no one there, guest or staff, knew who the hell he was. They couldn’t see past the greasy hair, beard, and beanie and booted him onto the curb. Of course, the situation was rectified and Jase was allowed back on the premises after the staff watched a few seasons of his show.
4. They’re Worth More Than You Think
The Robertsons are one of the smartest TV families in recent history, and not only because they turned a hunting accessory into a multi-million dollar business but also because they employed the entire clan, a strategy they recycled when it came time to start filming. Everyone is getting paid. Willie’s daughter, Sadie, is currently worth $500,000, making her the poorest of the family. The matriarch, Kay, has banked close to $15 million, the same as her hubby, Phil. Their children and their children’s spouses, the present day owners and operators of the Duck Commander dynasty all have net worths within the $4 million to $10 million range, except, of course, for Willie. As CEO of Duck Commander Inc., Willie has stashed away a staggering $20 million at least doubling the earnings of his kin.
3. They Were Virgins For A While
It’s no secret the Robertsons are religious. The eldest son, Alan, is a pastor and Jase was spreading the good word of Jesus before joining the Duck Commander squad. When you’re that devout, it kind of goes without saying that it’s all or nothing. And the Robertson boys (at least Jase as we know for sure) chose to go all in with Christianity and get “nothing” until he was married. In his memoir, Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl, Jase wasn’t embarrassed to write about their (he and his wife) commitment to God through abstinence and also how difficult it was to stay true to. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life,” Jase told Fox News, “what I did was when I started dating girls I would quickly tell them on the first date as soon as they got in the car. I’d say, ‘Look I will not treat you inappropriately at any point in our relationship.’ I had a couple get out of the vehicle!” Whatever floats your boat, man.
2. They Weren’t Always So Far Removed From The Mainstream
Let me explain what I mean by that. A few years ago, a picture of the Robertson brothers before fame went viral on the internet. It showed the boys pre-beards, pre-camo, pre-rugged everything for that matter. They’re clean-shaven and wearing polo shirts. It’s disturbing, to say the least. As upsettingly real as that image was, I’d much rather discuss the one posted above of a young Jep Robertson sans beard and donning a mop of bleached blond hair. This is interesting because we think of the family as so off the grid they’re immune to pop culture. But I submit this image as proof of otherwise. This means Jep was not only aware of late 90’s Eminem and Justin Timberlake in his N’Sync days, but he admired their style. Not Bob Vila plaid, not Iraq War camo, just some peroxide and a white tee shirt to wear.
1. The Oldest Brother Had To Fight Off Some Demons
Nearly every Robertson family member has a book of some type. The Eldest brother, Alan, and his wife, Lisa, published their memoir, A New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption and it revealed some pretty nasty stuff. For instance, the family’s troubled times weren’t exclusive to Phil. Lisa wrote about how she was sexually abused by a relative from ages seven to fourteen and how she had an abortion when she was a teenager despite being ultra conservative. Alan is no stranger to tough times either. Apparently, he became a slave to alcohol just like his daddy, and also enjoyed his fair share of speed. Oh, and he also had an affair with a married woman.
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