It’s fair to say that Tarek and Christina El Moussa have been in the news a lot recently. Tarek’s battle with thyroid cancer has been fairly public, for one. And, most notably, the pair’s recent separation and divorce proceedings have racked up their fair share of column inches, too – not least because, at times, their estrangement has proved to be somewhat rancorous.
But even though the El Moussas’ dirty linen may be aired from time to time in the press, there’s a surprising amount about them that has nevertheless gone under the radar. Here, for example, are 20 things you may not have known about HGTV’s former golden couple.
20. Christina’s second labor was very difficult
When Christina gave birth to her second child Brayden in 2015, the experience both during and after labor was a bit of a nightmare. For starters, complications in the delivery of her son meant that she required an emergency cesarean section. But the problems didn’t end there – although the procedure was completed successfully, Christina was still in agony for weeks afterward. “My entire body hurt… it felt like my stomach was going to fall open when I stood up,” she admitted in a January 2016 interview with Cara Clark Nutrition.
19. They had a period of serious poverty
The El Moussas may be worth a pretty penny now, but they weren’t always so lucky with their money. In fact, after the 2008 financial crisis their fortunes were hit hard. What’s more, Christina wasn’t able to even scrape together the cash to buy maternity clothes when she was pregnant with the pair’s daughter Taylor. The couple also found themselves having to subsist on cheap Subway sandwiches in lieu of proper meals.
18. Christina’s name was used in a skincare product scam
In the painful wake of her split from Tarek in late 2016, Christina found herself with yet another problem: a skincare line was using her name and a fake quote in order to sell its products. However, after the scam came to light in February 2017, it was quickly denounced by Christina’s spokesperson. “This is clearly an example of someone trying to take advantage of the current difficult situation she is going through in the public eye,” they went on to tell website TheWrap.
17. Tarek got his real estate license young
Most people in their early twenties are content to just relax and enjoy the benefits of having just come out of teenagerhood, or simply live it up at college. Tarek El Moussa wasn’t much of a slacker at that age, though, as he gained his real estate license at just 21. And he’s probably mighty glad he did – after all, it helped give him a TV career and, according to some estimates, made him millions.
16. Christina has released her own fitness DVD
Ever wondered why Christina El Moussa looks so damn good all the time? It’s partly due to her devotion to fitness and healthy living. In fact, she loves working out so much that during her second pregnancy she released a fitness DVD, Prenatal Power Yoga, to share with others some of her exercise regime while expecting.
15. The couple have come under fire for one of their seminars
In 2016 an advertisement for an El Moussas-affiliated seminar appeared online. And, naturally, that ad featured an image of the couple to boot. Seems fair to assume they’d show up and teach people in person at the Florida event, right? Well, that time they were nowhere to be seen at the class. “If you think you’re getting Tarek and Christina, you’re not going to get them,” one aggrieved customer told Good Morning America in October of that year.
14. The pair own a huge yacht
What do you do when you’re reality TV stars? You buy a massive yacht and name it after your show, of course. Well, that’s certainly what Tarek and Christina did – they own a 50-foot-long Sea Ray Sundancer 510 craft called, naturally, “Flip or Flop.” Who will get it in the divorce – or even if either of them will keep it at all – remains to be seen…
13. Tarek filmed his audition tape on a borrowed camera
In 2011, and with nothing to lose, Tarek El Moussa borrowed a video camera and filmed an audition tape for HGTV. Luckily, HGTV was very taken with it. “They liked the fact that we were poor and were trying to make something of ourselves,” Christina told the Orange County Register in 2013.
12. Christina suffered a miscarriage
Tarek’s radiation therapy for his thyroid cancer disrupted the pair’s plans for a new baby, but they were still determined to try for a pregnancy. As a result, they turned to IVF. And while ultimately it was successful and resulted in their son Brayden, Christina did sadly suffer a miscarriage before they got to that point.
11. One of their employees has sued them
In May 2017, and while still dealing with the fallout from their split, Tarek and Christina found out that a former employee was suing them. Specifically, realtor Jonathan Schmier has claimed that the couple owe him over $30k in unpaid wages; to date, however, the El Moussas have refused to deliver any comment on the case.
10. Christina has a guilty pleasure
Christina El Moussa is a health food nut – she usually eats vegetables, hummus, oatmeal, that sort of thing. But she does have a major vice: peanut butter. In fact, since it became a pregnancy craving of hers, she’s remained a massive fan of the foodstuff. “I am obsessed! Every day I have a peanut butter Perfect Bar and also always a snack of a rice cake with peanut butter,” she told Cara Clark Nutrition in 2016.
9. Tarek dated the nanny after his split from Christina
After Christina and Tarek’s painful split, Tarek found comfort in another woman – the nanny to his children, Alyssa Logan. “I did date her for a month. I was going through a tough time, and she’s amazing,” he told Us Weekly in February 2017. However, he added, “I never held hands with her around the kids, though.”
8. The pair have helped give a veteran a new home
In September 2016 the El Moussas and their company Success Path Education teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to make a very kind pledge – namely, that they would assist in constructing a house for a veteran. “Success Path Education is a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity, and it means a lot to Tarek and I to be able to help a veteran here in our own community finally have their own home,” Christina said in a statement released at the time.
7. Christina enjoys a psychological thriller or two
Somehow in between raising her kids, having a career and keeping fit, Christina finds time for reading as well. What sort of books does she favor? Suspenseful crime novels, it turns out. She details her reading habits on her Instagram, showing off novels including the likes of The Girl on the Train and The Kind Worth Killing.
6. At one point, the pair couldn’t even share the same car
Unfortunately, Christina and Tarek’s break-up was extremely harrowing for them both. And in the worst days of the couple’s relationship, they couldn’t even share the same car when they were both going to the same place. “We weren’t able to properly communicate anymore,” Christina told People in February 2017. “It got to the point where we weren’t even driving to set together.”
5. Tarek’s greatest fear is “failure”
Perhaps Tarek’s time living with Christina in poverty has spurred him on to succeed at all costs now that he’s in a more fortunate position. Whatever lessons he took from that period, however, an interview the couple gave to HGTV Arabia in 2016 suggests that he intends to always be on top in the future. “My biggest fear in life is failure,” he explained. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes not to fail.”
4. Ratings for the show went up after the split
You would have thought, perhaps, that with a major element of the show – Christina and Tarek’s love for each other – suddenly gone, the ratings for Flip or Flop would go down. They didn’t. Indeed, after news of the couple’s divorce went public, viewing figures shot up – proof, maybe, that viewers love a bit of drama either on or off set.
3. HGTV has ordered five spinoffs of the show
HGTV, like all TV networks, knows when it’s onto a good thing. And after the El Moussas’ divorce news broke and Flip or Flop itself came under the spotlight, HGTV announced that Flip or Flop was getting not one, but five spinoff shows. Other married couples, however, will be the ones tackling houses in cities including Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta and Las Vegas.
2. A viewer of the show discovered Tarek’s cancer
It’s perhaps fair to say that Tarek El Moussa owes his life to a nurse called Ryan Read. She was casually watching Flip or Flop one day when she noticed something no-one else seemingly had: a strange protrusion on Tarek’s throat. And after Read sent show producers an email detailing what she had seen, it emerged that she was right to be concerned: that lump was a signal of thyroid cancer. What’s more, thanks to her quick intervention, the cancer was still at a stage to be treatable.
1. There was an incident with a gun involving the couple
After the couple’s split had been made public, one particularly disturbing account detailing the apparent disintegration of their relationship came to light. Specifically, TMZ would allege that back in May 2016, when everything seemed fine, there had been an incident where Tarek had left the couple’s house after an argument. He had taken a gun with him, and Christina, terrified, had called the police. However, the couple would go on to tell the website in December of that year that the whole affair was simply an “unfortunate misunderstanding.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that reality TV shows give an accurate glimpse at what’s going on in their stars’ lives. Like the El Moussas, however, John and Kate Gosselin had some off-screen secrets they wanted to keep under wraps. And they only emerged after the hit show Jon & Kate Plus 8 met a very bitter end.
Jon and Kate Gosselin, the stars of the hit show Jon & Kate Plus 8, were once the king and queen of reality television. That isn’t the case any more, though – not least because the pair divorced acrimoniously in 2009.
And even after the name of the show was changed to simply Kate Plus Eight, more scandalous secrets came to light that made people start to question whether it should be on air at all. Indeed, there were certain details surrounding the care of the kids and the treatment of the staff that Kate and Jon likely didn’t want people to find out. And these are just 20 of the worst…
20. Kate may have planned her reality TV stardom
In 2014 an explosive tell-all book about Kate Gosselin was published, with one particularly damning claim contained within its pages. Specifically, in Robert Hoffman’s provocatively titled Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled the World, the author alleged that Kate had always planned to have a lot of children so that she could use them for fame and fortune. Unsurprisingly, Kate subsequently had the tome taken off the shelves.
19. Two of the kids were removed from school following some “post-divorce anger”
The Gosselin kids allegedly didn’t take their parents’ divorce well. In fact, in 2016 it was rumored that two of the children, Collin and Alexis, had acted out so much at school that they’d been expelled. Kate quickly denied this, however. Instead, she told People in 2010 that the school “did not feel like they could meet their needs anymore” and that the children were suffering from “post-divorce anger.”
18. The pair didn’t pay for their couples therapy
Jon and Kate’s divorce was expensive as well as difficult. But before calling it quits, they made an effort to salvage their relationship by going to couples therapy. The only problem was that they neglected to pay the bill. And so in 2011 their therapist, Sylvia Lafair, sued Kate for her unpaid expenses, and Kate was forced to pay Lafair $10,300.
17. Jon once fired a gun at a photographer
In 2013, post-divorce, Jon made headlines when he shot at a photographer. It was only a warning shot, he claimed, because the female journalist was both harassing him and trespassing on his land. And even though Jon maintained that he had been within his rights to do so, the whole episode was enough to make people wince at how far he’d fallen.
16. Kate allegedly doesn’t let her kids keep presents from their dad
The messy Jon-Kate divorce included a court case in which Jon accused Kate of abusing their children. Indeed, a 2010 court document apparently read, “[The] children have explained concern that they cannot safely bring any gifts, toys, pictures or stuffed animals home from [Jon]’s house. [Kate] takes them away and throws them out.” Yikes.
15. Jon and Kate were said to have faked their relationship for the sake of the show
What do you do if you’re a TV producer and the couple on your hit reality show have fallen out? Get them to fake it, of course. According to a source, even when Jon was living in an apartment away from Kate and the kids, he still had to play happy families in front of the cameras.
14. The kids were reportedly fed stale food
Some unpleasant details emerged during the court battles between Kate and Jon. In particular, it was revealed that Kate allegedly had a strange attitude towards feeding her children. If they refused to eat a lunch she’d packed for them, Jon claimed, she would simply keep putting the same items in their lunch boxes each day – even when mold started to grow and the food turned bad.
13. Jon was involved in a million-dollar company theft
After the divorce, life seemingly got worse and worse for Jon. But it often seemed like he brought it on himself. In 2015, for example, he was sued for $1 million by his former company, Securus, on the grounds that he’d secretly been working for a competitor on the side and had been asking clients to switch to them instead.
12. Kate filmed a talk show pilot, but it was canned
In 2009, keen to advance her career, Kate filmed a talk show pilot with celebrity chef Paula Deen. But the show was never brought to series – apparently because network executives thought that Kate was too controversial. Ironically, Paula Deen would later become very controversial herself after she was caught using racist language…
11. Jon may have cheated on Kate on her birthday
Jon & Kate Plus Eight rather glossed over the events of Kate’s 34th birthday. And as it turns out, there was a good reason for that. According to Us Weekly, Jon had actually been partying in Utah with a 23-year-old schoolteacher while his wife spent her birthday with their kids.
10. Kate once claimed that her children were disabled
According to Hoffman’s aforementioned book, Kate allegedly went to some bizarre lengths to ensure that she got childcare from social services. And it’s said that she bent the truth a little in doing so too. In particular, in 2005 the mom reportedly wrote a letter to the State of Pennsylvania stating that her six babies were disabled “in a sense.”
9. According to one businessman, Jon ruined a whole brand of clothing
Tattoo artist Ed Hardy once had his own fashion line… until Jon Gosselin came along. Why? Well, after the reality star was papped a few times wearing Hardy’s clothes, the brand apparently went down in people’s estimation. Certainly, Hardy himself thinks so, anyway. “That Jon Gosselin thing was the nail in the coffin [for the clothing line],” Hardy told the New York Post in 2013. “That’s what tanked it.”
8. Kate may have locked her children up
Claims of Kate’s child abuse just kept on coming in 2010. In court papers, Jon accused his ex of confining their children to their bedrooms and not allowing them to leave – even if they had to go to the toilet. She had switched the locks so they would only open from the outside, Jon said.
7. According to his exes, Jon’s manhood is not large
However, Jon also took a bit of a kicking in 2010. First, his ex-girlfriend Hailey Glassman told Steppin’ Out magazine that Jon was “tiny, tiny, tiny” in the pants department. Ouch. Not to be outdone, Kate joined in too; she informed Us Weekly that year that Jon’s private parts were “stubby.”
6. Kate reportedly had a bizarre list of rules for staff
In 2014 a former employee of Kate went to Radar Online to accuse her employer of making up ridiculous rules for staff to follow. These demands allegedly included orders to clean up the chicken droppings every day, to avoid placing purses or bags on kitchen counters and to limit their noise while walking.
5. Kate allegedly went through 40 nannies in just three months
And if the demeaning rules were indeed implemented, it’s perhaps not surprising that nannies hired by Kate didn’t tend to stick around for very long. Indeed, according to one former employee who went to Us Weekly with her story, Kate fired a whopping 40 nannies in three months. It’s said that the reality star even dismissed one employee for washing her hands in the kitchen instead of the bathroom.
4. Jon has claimed that his kids have “problems”
When Jon appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s Where Are They Now? in 2013, he admitted that bringing up his kids on TV may not have been the best idea. “They have problems with their peers, and they have problems with talking to other people,” he said. “They have problems with wants and needs and manners and morals and what’s right and what’s wrong.”
3. Kate has been accused of racism
In 2013 a photograph emerged online of Kate making what looked to be a racist gesture towards Asians; her ex-husband Jon is, of course, of Asian heritage. And while people weren’t impressed with the snap, Kate attempted to provide an explanation on her blog. It was a “happy memory,” she wrote, in which she was simply “show[ing Jon] my best Asian impression.”
2. Jon barely sees his two oldest kids anymore
In 2016 Jon told Entertainment Tonight that he barely even speaks to his two oldest children, Mady and Cara. Afterwards, though, the kids in question went to People to explain their side of the story. “He makes it seem like we’re being kept from him, which is insane,” Mady said. “He should maybe spend some time thinking about why we don’t want to see him.”
1. Kate’s own brother accused her of child abuse
In 2010 Kate’s brother Kevin testified against her at a hearing that discussed child labor on the set of Jon & Kate Plus Eight. Kevin claimed in particular that there were health and safety breaches on set, and that the children suffered “psychological damage.” The claims were refuted, however.