Reality television stars tend to get a bad rep for being “untalented” or “famous for nothing,” and while that is mostly true, we can’t deny their overpowering influence on our current cultural scene. Their over-exaggerated personalities make for some of the juiciest and most meme-able moments in television history. Of course, being a reality television star comes with its own baggage. Reality stars are hand-picked by producers for their potential to bring about drama, and most importantly, scandals. In the reality TV world, any press is good press. If anything, getting up to no good is a great thing for reality TV stars. However, there are some things that are entertaining for viewers, and others that are just shady or embarrassing.
Audiences tune in to watch these seemingly average people spiral out of control, cause scenes, and bring gag-worthy drama. Some reality stars have had their career affected by their scandalous pasts, but others seem to have benefited from it and grown from it. Some people even assume that these stars’ scandals and drama are all for the cameras, but in reality, many of these celebs have been up to no good before they were even famous. Either way, these reality TV stars are anything but squeaky-clean. In fact, they are pretty sketchy. Here are fifteen famous reality stars whose dark pasts have been brought to the public light, be it to their loss or their gain.
15. Josh Duggar Of 19 Kids And Counting Abused Several Girls
Josh Duggar gained mainstream fame from TLC’s hit series 19 Kids and Counting. The show started off as 17 kids, but over the seasons, more and more kids came into the world and were added onto the cast. Josh was involved in of the biggest reality scandals of all time, according to US Magazine. Josh Duggar was accused of abusing multiple underaged girls, including two of his sisters, when he was reportedly 14 and 15 years old. These allegations brought about way too much negative press for TLC to handle, and they ended up cancelling the show in the heat of it all, despite it being one of their biggest money-makers at the time. On top of that, proof that Duggar had been cheating on his wife came to light while all of this was happening. This guy is pretty gross and his past has to be among the worst of all reality stars.
14. Danielle Staub Of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey Was Charged With Extortion, Kidnapping, And Possession
Who can forget the instantly iconic Real Housewives of New Jersey season one finale in which Teresa Giudice flipped a table while calling Danielle Staub a terrible name? This climactic moment was a build-up of many things, most notably the discovery of Danielle Staub’s criminal past. The housewives got their hands on Staub’s ex-husband’s book, chronicling his life as a criminal turned FBI informant, which exposed the housewife’s criminal past as an escort named Beverly Merril. During this period, Staub was charged with extortion, kidnapping and drug possession after getting involved in the kidnapping of a man who owed one of her drug dealer friends money. Yikes. Following the entire controversy, Staub only came back as a housewife for one more season, but continues to make occasional appearances as a guest in the latest season. Unfortunately for Staub, her entire past came unravelled on national television, with millions of viewers watching.
13. Chris Soules Of The Bachelor Has A DUI And Hit And Run Under His Belt
First appearing in Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette, and then starring in his own season of The Bachelor, this man definitely isn’t a real life Prince Charming. Prior to the airing of his own season, multiple reports came out detailing his criminal past involving drunk driving. According to E! in 2005, the heartthrob was arrested for driving under the influence, resulting in a 60-day jail sentence and a fine of $500. To make matters even worse, it doesn’t even seem like the Bachelor stud has learned from his past mistakes. Just this past year, Soules was arrested in April for a hit and run. His past didn’t really seem to affect his potential television appearances, though. After this all became public, Soules participated in the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars and had a brief stint on Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition. This guy is super sketchy and it does not seem to be negatively affecting his career.
12. Dog The Bounty Hunter Is A Racist Who Possibly Committed Some Horrible Violent Crimes
Even those who have never seen the show know how recognizable Dog the Bounty Hunter’s name is. He is a huge reality star and his checkered past does not seem to have influenced his success too much. Unfortunately, Dog isn’t exactly the most likeable of people. When he was younger, Dog was part of a motorcycle gang called The Devils Disciples, and during this period, it is believe he had committed at least 18 armed robberies. Making matters worse, in the 70s, Doug was arrested for first-degree murder charges, and he still says he is innocent. Dog the Bounty Hunter has never really redeemed himself. In 2007, a phone conversation between him and his son leaked in which he used a racial slur to describe the African-American girl that his son was dating. Yup, sorry Bounty Hunter fans. Dog isn’t exactly the perfect role model and his past definitely reflects that.
11. Tiny Of T.I. And Tiny: The Family Hustle Was Arrested For Possession
Although more famous for being a rapper, T.I. was the co-star of a hit reality series on VH1 along with his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris. T.I. is definitely one sketchy dude, and his wife is clearly no different. In 2007, TI was arrested for trying to purchase illegal weapons, marking it his third overall arrest for gun possession. Clearly this guy never learns. His wife, Tiny, was arrested for drug possession in 2010, although to her luck, she pleaded not guilty and her case got dismissed in court. We think being famous and wealthy probably had something to do with her light sentence. Like some other stars on this list, Tiny’s criminal past hasn’t affected her career. In fact, it might even have helped it, as she has had more reality show appearances since this happened. She was later seen starring in another reality show on BET called Tiny and Toya.
10. Don Vito Of Jacka*s Abused Two Girls
For those of you that are fans of the incomparably idiotic Jacka*s franchise, it might not come as such a shocker that Don Vito has had trouble with the law. Although the cast’s daredevil antics might be the scariest part of the show to some people, the reality stars’ real0life scandals might overshadow that. According to MTV News, Don Vito of Jacka*s was found guilty of abusing two twelve-year-old girls in a mall in 2006. He pleaded not guilty as he claimed it was all a part of his “alter ego” on Jacka*s, and his signature arm movement from the show might have been confused for breast fondling. Wow, what a scumbag. That doesn’t exactly sound like the most sound defence for this piece of garbage. He had to serve 12 years of hard probation and was banned from the reality show forever. That seems like a pretty light sentence for such a horrible crime.
9. June Shannon Of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Is Associated With Child Abusers
The mother of Honey Boo Boo has had her share of prison time (she was arrested in 2008 for theft), but what really makes Mama June’s past so scandalous is her multiple relationships with known s*x offenders. According to the Daily Mail, Mama June has come forward detailing how the father of two of her children is a man who was convicted of a s*x crime. At one point, she was also seen dating Mark Anthony MacDaniel, a man who had served 10 years in prison for child abuse, and is a registered offender. Wow, how could she have been associated with two such disgusting people? Fortunately for June, she has been able to turn all the negative press away from her by chronicling her recent weight loss journey, which is definitely making more headlines nowadays than her scandalous relationship past with offenders. The fact that she is not be bothered by these men’s pasts is clearly alarming and messed up.
8. Big Ang Of Mob Wives Sold Drugs
Big Ang was easily one of the most loveable reality stars in recent memory. Sadly, Big Ang passed away in 2016 after a long fight with throat cancer. She was the star of the VH1 series Mob Wives, and later starred in her own reality series named after her. She was sassy, fierce, loveable, hilarious and above all, she loved money and diamonds. What more could you ask for in a reality star? Turns out, Ang had a criminal past fitting for her Mob Wives role. According to Reality Tea, in 2001, Ang was charged with six counts of selling drugs in an undercover operation in New York City. She was caught selling drugs to some of the many Brooklyn bars that she worked in. However, this past doesn’t affect anyone’s memory of how sweet and inspirational Big Ang was throughout her reality career, especially in her final years where she so openly talked about her struggle with cancer.
7. Catelynn Lowell Of 16 And Pregnant Was Caught Taking Drugs
Catelynn Lowell and her boyfriend Tyler Baltierra were most well known for giving up their daughter for adoption during the filming of 16 and Pregnant. Most of the 16 and Pregnant stars have had their fair share of controversy throughout their time on the show. For these two, their criminal pasts were made public in 2009 when, according to In Touch, both Catelynn and her boyfriend were charged with marijuana use. I mean, heck, they were young teenagers who were smoking pot; they just so happened to be caught doing it. We can hardly compare their crimes to some other more violent ones on this list, but they still committed a crime. Fortunately for them, none of these charges really affected their appearances in future reality shows, as they appeared later on VH1’s Couple Therapy.
6. NeNe Leakes Of The Real Housewives Of Atlanta Ripped Off A Phone Company
The Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes might be the most well known housewife in the entire housewife franchise, so naturally, there had to be something from her past that would come to light eventually. According to BET, our favourite gif-able housewife was charged for three counts of “theft of services” for ripping off a phone company when she was only 25 years old. She was put on two years probation and a fine of 2,650 dollars. Of course, NeNe is still extremely well-loved by The Real Housewives of Atlanta viewing audience, and has made numerous appearances on other reality shows, even co-starring in a Ryan Murphy comedy that aired on ABC in 2012, The New Normal. NeNe Leakes continues to be a staple and iconic houseguest for the Real Housewives franchise, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. Alexis Neiers Of Pretty Wild Robbed Several Celebs
This list couldn’t be complete without the iconic Bling Ring burglar herself, Alexis Neiers. In 2010, she premiered in her very own reality show called Pretty Wild, based on the lives of her and her family. Although the show tried its best to focus more on her family and her modelling career, it ended up being all about her arrest for the infamous Bling Ring robberies. Neiers and a group of friends are most famously known for burglarizing the homes of some of Hollywood’s most famous stars, including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan. The story of the Bling Ring burglaries became so famous there was even a movie directed by Sofia Coppola based on them starring Emma Watson. After she showed up to court in little brown kitten heels, and NOT in six inch Louboutins, according to the NY Daily News, the Bling Ring burglar was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with three years of probation and a $600,000 fine.
4. Marlo Hampton Of The Real Housewives Of Atlanta Was Arrested For Aggravated Battery
Although never officially classified as a housewife, Marlo Hampton was best known on the show for stirring up some major drama between fan favourite NeNe Leakes (who also has the honour of making this list). In fact, she was brought on the show in the first place because at the time, she was engaged to Charles Grant, an NFL player that was rumoured to be a former love of NeNe. Even though she brought us all some great drama with NeNe, nobody was every on her side due to Nene’s large fanbase. Reality Tea reported that she was arrested back in 1999 for aggravated battery causing bodily harm with a weapon. She was also arrested four more times after this incident for violating her probation. Hampton never had it easy with feds. In 2002 she was arrested once again for writing false cheques. This woman has quite the criminal record!
3. Teresa Giudice Of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey Was Charged With Fraud
Our second housewife from the New Jersey franchise and fan favourite Teresa Giudice and her husband have run into trouble with the law more than once. Giudice was charged with 39 counts of fraud in 2013. Her husband was also charged with failure to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008. As a result, Giudice served 18 months in prison. These legal battles have been the centre of her life over the past few years, but she’s still on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, flipping tables, as she does best. This is one case of a reality star whose checkered past has actually helped her career. A big part of her storyline over the past few seasons have involved her legal troubles and how her and husband are navigating through them. Giudice’s crimes have kept her in the news, even if for bad reasons. She will probably milk this story for a long, long time.
2. Justin Sebik Of Big Brother Was Arrested Several Times For Robbery And Assault
Easily one of the most shocking moments in Big Brother history was when Justin Sebik was expelled from the second season of the popular summer show. For those not familiar with the Big Brother format, a bunch of contestants are sequestered in a house for the entire summer with a 24/7 camera surveillance on them that is being live streamed onto the internet at all times. On the live streams, Sebik was shown holding a knife to the throat of a female houseguest. According to Entertainment Weekly, production claimed that they had no idea that his criminal past entailed eight arrests for robbery and assault. How did he even get past the first round of background checks? Future seasons of the show have been much more strict with the types of personalities they let into the house, with extensive mental health and criminal record checks.
1. Latrice Royale (Timothy Wilcots) Of RuPaul’s Drag Race Went To Prison
Latrice Royale is one of the biggest fan favourites in RuPaul’s Drag Race history. However, the loveable drag queen has had her fair share of controversy. While on the show, Latrice revealed that she had served jail time in her past. Her reason is, “You don’t wanna have prescription pills on you if you don’t have a prescription.” However, the audience accepted Latrice and loved her even more for coming clean with her mistakes. She became such an inspiration for so many fans, giving us one of the most heartwarming and inspirational quotes in the show: “I want people to realize, it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fall down, get up, look sickening, and make them EAT IT.” She made it all the way to the top four on her season, going on to win the “fan favorite” title of Miss Congeniality. She also later appeared on the reality show’s first ever rendition of All Stars. Nothing was able to keep Miss Latrice Royale down.
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