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“Street Outlaws”: Ryan Fellows’ Family Sues Discovery Channel For Wrongful Death

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Racing star Ryan Fellows died following a car crash during the filming of an episode of “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America” in 2022. Everyone was shocked by this tragic news, because accidents happened during street outlaws races in the past, but none led to a fatality. His family filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros Discovery and Lions Gate Entertainment, as they held the network and the studio responsible for his death for alleged gross negligence.

“Street Outlaws: Fastest in America” – How it came about

“Street Outlaws” made its television premiere on 10 June 2013 on Discovery Channel. It took viewers into the world of street racing featuring ‘the baddest’ in Oklahoma City, with Justin “Big Chief” Shearer as the racemaster. The drivers were on center stage as much as the cool cars that they drove, so people were given much more than a glimpse of what went on behind the scenes. What made it more exciting was that they had a list of the fastest in the area, and drivers from all over were piqued by how fast they could be, and went on to challenge those on that list.

The success of the reality show spawned several spin-off series, that showed the street racing scene in other cities. With the drivers in each city claiming to be the kings on the street, the network launched “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America” in 2020 to settle the issue once and for all – the race master was JJ Da Boss from “Street Outlaws: Memphis.” Eight teams participated, and fans got the chance to see prominent racers such as New Orleans’ Kye Kelley, Detroit’s Brian “Chucky” Davis, and Texan James “Birdman” Finney for the ultimate face-off, be it small tires or big ones. Those who won the race went head-to-head with JJ Da Boss’s team Memphis; the champion got to take home $100,000, the highest payout in the history of street racing at that time.

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As exciting as the first season of this spin-off series was, with team Memphis hailed as the fastest in America, it wasn’t without some controversies. People wondered why team Oklahoma from the original series wasn’t invited at all, and why team Memphis would only race against the winner that emerged from the other teams. That said, the series rn for three more seasons with more teams participating, and more money up for grabs.

The danger of street racing

Street racing was originally illegal because of the danger it posed, to not just the drivers but also bystanders. A governing body was eventually formed called the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to host the racing events and set the rules for everyone’s safety. Despite this, people were still addicted to the thrill of engaging in street racing although they did it under the cover of night in some secluded roads to avoid the cops.

Every street racer knew what they were getting into when they joined the “Street Outlaws” franchise. The actual races were real, despite rumors that the show was staged, so crashes were always a possibility. As the drivers vied for the top spot, they kept on upgrading the specs of their vehicles whenever possible, to give them an advantage over their opponents. They conducted trial runs and road inspections before every race, however, during an actual race, there were times when a driver lost control of the car or there was some kind of car malfunction that would cause the car to spin and flip or a fire to ignite.

At the beginning of each episode, a disclaimer would appear on the screen stating that street racing was dangerous and that the racing events were conducted in a ‘controlled environment with strict safety protocols in place.’ A voiceover followed that said, ‘Just because we’re dumbasses…don’t mean that you can be too,’ and proceeded to advise the viewers not to do what they would see in the show.

Close calls in “Street Outlaws”

There were some close calls while filming for the show. In 2015, Big Chief ended up with a dislocated shoulder, broken collarbone, and compression fracture in his lumbar spinal area after his opponent, Chucky from Detroit, hit the quarter panel of his ‘72 Pontiac LeMans. Also in 2015, David “Daddy Dave” Comstock’s car, nicknamed Goliath, slammed into a concrete barrier and somersaulted six times before stopping. A nitrous bottle came loose and hit his head, but he was wearing a helmet, so he only suffered concussion. In 2022, JJ Da Boss and his wife Tricia were racing against each other when the former’s car ignited and he lost control of it. He ended up hitting Tricia’s car, which caught fire as well and crashed into parked rental cars. She had it worse than him, as she underwent surgery and was unable to walk for a time.

All drivers from “Street Outlaws” who were involved in car crashes, fortunately recovered well enough to return to racing – some walked away without even a scratch, with only their cars sustaining damage.

Ryan Fellows’ fatal crash in “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America”

Fans were devastated when news broke on 7 August 2022 that a street racer died during a race while filming for an episode of an upcoming season of “Street Outlaws: Fastest in America.” Ryan Fellows lost control of his gold Nissan 240Z as he was nearing the finish line during the eighth race of nine that was scheduled at that time. Witnesses said that the vehicle rolled over and caught on fire. The tragic thing was that no one made it in time to extricate Ryan from the vehicle before it was totally engulfed in flames.

When accidents occurred during a race, it was usually aired, and viewers saw how the cast and crew run to the site to check on the condition of the driver – paramedics or first responders came to give first aid and take the driver to the nearest hospital for further treatment. Understandably, the fatal crash was never aired, although TMZ got hold of a photo that showed the fiery wreckage, and published it online.

Discovery Channel released a statement via its official Twitter account: ‘The Street Outlaws family is heartbroken by the accident that led to the tragic death of Ryan Fellows. We extend our deepest sympathy to Ryan’s loved ones as they process this sudden and devastating loss.’ Pilgrim Studios, the production company responsible for the show, also expressed their grief over his untimely passing.

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His family on his sudden death

Ryan was 41 when he died, leaving behind Elizabeth his wife of 20 years, as well as his 18-year-old son Josiah and 10-year-old daughter Olivia; the family had a difficult time processing what happened. To say that they were shocked when they received the call that Ryan had an accident was an understatement. Josiah just couldn’t believe what he was hearing and thought that he was having a nightmare. Liz said that waking up to this terrible news was hard. She didn’t know why, but she honestly thought that it was all a horrible joke and wanted to yell and make them stop. Several cast members called her up to explain what transpired. She was told that Ryan lost control of the vehicle a couple of times, and failed to regain control as the car went off the road and into the desert, flipped, and caught fire. She shared the story with KTNV 13 Action News when she was interviewed: ‘All his friends ran to him, but I heard it was too hot to touch, so they were screaming for him and, yeah, they couldn’t do anything.’

Liz couldn’t have asked for a better husband, as Ryan gave her everything she ever wanted in life. His unconditional support and love for them was what she loved most about him. Josiah said that his father’s priority was their family, and that there was nothing he wouldn’t do for them. His father often told him to work hard for his dreams and to never give up. He wanted to continue his legacy and make him proud, as he planned to become the man of the house and look after their family. He paid tribute to his dad via his Instagram post, and reflected on what his life was going to be like without him. Josiah tried to wrap his head around the fact that Ryan wouldn’t be there to see him graduate, get married, and become a father himself. Liz said that she tried to find some comfort in knowing that he died doing what he loved with his favorite people in his favorite show. She knew that he wouldn’t want it any other way.

A GoFundMe campaign for Ryan’s family

The day after Ryan’s death, his friend of 20 years, Brad Sparks, created a GoFundMe page with Elizabeth Fellows as the beneficiary. He knew that the family would need financial assistance, and was quick to take action. He described Ryan as a ‘road warrior in many ways’ and admired him for his relentless drive and perseverance to overcome challenges. Ryan had several successful businesses, which funded his love for racing. Brad said that as Ryan achieved some fame through the Discovery Channel show, it didn’t get to his head or corrupt his character.

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So far, the crowdfunding platform raised close to $25,000 with over 240 people donating money. It didn’t reach the goal of $50,000, but it would come a long way in helping the family.

A formal investigation was launched on Ryan’s death

As the accident occurred in the desert, 25 miles north of Las Vegas, near Harry Allen Power Plant Road and North Las Vegas Boulevard, a responding officer Larry Hadfield from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department assessed the situation. Based on his reports, the production team of the network had the permit to film in the area, and deputies were present at the time of the crash, and called for medical assistance at around 12:30 on a Sunday.

The incident wasn’t regarded as a criminal matter, and so it was turned over to the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of Industrial Relations for the Department of Business and Industry that aimed to uphold and ensure the highest standards of safety and health services for workers throughout the state of Nevada. OSHA launched a formal investigation into Ryan’s death – it usually takes at least six months before a case was closed, so it was expected that details of the investigation would be available by early 2023.

The lawsuit

The family sued Warner Bros Discovery along with Lions Gate Entertainment in 2023 over the wrongful death of Ryan Fellows. A lot of people were confused by this, considering every street racer knew the risks involved in engaging in extreme sports. If it wasn’t a malfunction in a car, then it was the driver who couldn’t control all that power that a fast car was capable of, that might cause an accident during a race.

Many thought that the family had come to terms with Ryan’s death, but reportedly, new information came to light that led the family to believe that the network and production studios were responsible for what happened. They claimed that by holding the race in a ‘dusty, weather-beaten, rough asphalt 55-mile per hour roadway in the Las Vegas desert,’ Ryan’s life was put at risk for financial gain as the condition of the road failed to meet the standards for safety in drag racing.

According to the legal documents obtained by TMZ, it was gross negligence on the part of the production to have the drivers race on an unsafe desert roadway. It was said to be only 12 feet wide instead of 30 feet, which was the industry standard, and instead of having the standard concrete barriers, the sides of the road had broken asphalt and gravel shoulders with extremely steep drop-offs. The Fellows claimed that the cars could lose traction on rough asphalt, and that there was no room for the drivers to make corrections with lanes that were so narrow. The drop-offs were hazardous, causing out-of-control vehicles to slide before rolling and flipping – this was what they said happened to Ryan’s car. Also, after his car came to a stop, he was hanging upside down in the driver’s seat with the car on fire, for about half an hour. He was dead and badly burned before the fire crew could remove him.

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The family said that this could have been avoided if the races were held on a safer road, which was exactly what they did after Ryan’s death. When the cast resumed filming, it was in a different location – a California raceway with a 75-foot-wide drag strip. The Fellows wanted compensatory and punitive damages as the death of Ryan resulted in suffering as well as losing companionship and love.

Ryan Fellows once drove a Lamborghini to a street race

Ryan might not be a regular cast member on the reality show, but most fans remembered him well, as he participated in “Street Outlaws: Memphis” driving a 2016 Lamborghini Huracan EVO Spider. He was part of team Arizona, and they came to challenge ‘the baddest’ in team Memphis. Many were amazed and could only laugh at how one brought such an expensive car to race. JJ Da Boss couldn’t help but ask how much it was worth and Ryan simply said, ‘$300,000.’ Ryan was aware that a Lamborghini wasn’t something one would expect in a drag race. Being the ‘big drag racing guy’ that he was, he wanted to see how it would fare on the street.

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He raced against Brian Britt, who was behind the wheel of a black truck. As Brian left the starting line first after the signal was given, which was the famous JJ Da Boss’ arm drop, it didn’t surprise viewers that he crossed the finish line first. Ryan not only lost the race, but he also came close to crashing the car, but fortunately regained control in time. He said that he felt like he could have caught up to Brian, but he veered off his lane and thought for one moment that he would have ended up in the desert. He didn’t know exactly how or why it happened, as he would have to check the data log for that.

Fans were hoping that Ryan’s family would find some answers, justice, or closure to what happened. Meanwhile, season four of Discovery Channel’s ‘Street Outlaws: Fastest in America” premiered on 23 March 2023.

As the Managing Editor at The Legit, I direct a dynamic team dedicated to creating rich content that profiles the lives and accomplishments of influential figures. My commitment to detail and storytelling drives the production of biographies that truly engage our audience. I manage all aspects of the editorial process, from conducting thorough research to crafting vivid narratives, all while ensuring the accuracy and quality of our work. At The Legit, our goal is to offer our readers comprehensive profiles that provide deep insights into the realms of business, entertainment, and more. Through diligent research and engaging storytelling, we highlight the exceptional journeys and achievements of those who both inspire and intrigue us.

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How rich are Ben and Erin Napier? Health Update

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Whether they’re renovating an old house or a whole town, it’s always a pleasure to see Ben and Erin Napier on our TV screens. Ever since the launch of their show “Home Town”, the couple has been bringing houses back to life all around Laurel, Mississippi by combining their love for antique styles with modernity.

While Erin and Ben have gained hearts everywhere due to their light-hearted personalities, sweet love story, and family, they’re also admirable for their work, the stable business they’ve built through it, and all the hardships they’ve faced to get where they are today.

So where are the Napiers now and how did they get there? Stay here to learn more about Ben and Erin’s whereabouts, including their net worth, fame, their story, and current shows.

How Rich Are They?

Erin and Ben Napier have become widely popular for their sense of style and charisma on screen. That being said, the couple has gained more than only fame and followers, but also led them to amass a net worth of $5 million combined, according to online reports.

This fortune partially comes from their career on TV, which includes their brand show “Home Town” and its spin-offs “Home Town Takeover” and “Ben’s Workshop”, on top of landing some tremendous advertising deals thanks to it, as seen on their social media.

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Nonetheless, a huge part of their fortune comes from their several active businesses, including the well-known retailer Laurel Mercantile, the furniture and tools maker Scotsman Co and Scotsman Manufacturing. All of these companies were opened years after the Napiers’ rise to fame, as before that Erin and Ben owned the now-disappeared wedding and event boutique Lucky Luxe. As well, Ben was a church minister before becoming a TV personality.

All in all, Ben and Erin had done an excellent job at not only becoming one of the most well-known house renovators on TV, but also at earning  a modest fortune doing what they love.

What Are Their Businesses About?

Although we know Erin and Ben Napier for their work as house renovators, they do more than that when cameras are off. For a start, Laurel Mercantile is a retailer of lifestyle and decorative items, opened in 2016 by the Napiers in Laurel. The company is a renewal of the original Laurel Mercantile, which opened in 1901 to serve as one of the biggest goods suppliers in town, before its closure in 1930.

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The couple also owns Scotsman Co, a woodwork and manufacturer where Ben turns his love for woodwork into authentic pieces of usable furniture, and other home items. The name is in honor of Ben’s Scottish heritage, and has turned into an international sensation thanks to its features in “Home Town” and its spin-offs.

Scotsman Co sells its items online and at Scotsman General Store, located next to Laurel Mercantile’s second store location opened in 2018.

Last but not least, Ben and Erin are the proud owners of Scotsman Manufacturing, which produces most of the items sold through Laurel Mercantile. Founding a manufacturing company is a step forward in accomplishing Erin and Ben’s goal of selling American-made products only.

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Health Update

It’s no secret that Erin and Ben Napier have gone through their fair share of hardships, especially when it comes to health. For several years into their marriage, Ben and Erin had been unable to welcome any children due to health issues on her side, resulting from a perforated appendix.

Nonetheless, that seems to be a thing of the past now, as the couple happily welcomed two daughters after Erin was completely cured of her illness. As well, Erin underwent throat surgery in late 2022, but has recovered just fine from it, and seems to be significantly well in most health-related aspects these days.

On his part, Ben doesn’t have any long-lasting and serious health problems as far as is known, though in April 2023 he suffered a shoulder injury which left him confined to bed for a while.

According to Erin, Ben had some problems involving his rotator cuff, bone spur, and cartilage, though further details about whatever happened to him weren’t revealed outside of the fact he had to undergo weeks of therapy and use a sling. Even so, Ben appeared content in the pics posted by his wife, as she and their daughters were taking care of him while he was confined to home during his recovery.

What Is Erin Napier’s Illness About?

While the Napiers aren’t extremely secretive about their personal issues, Erin’s now-cured illness is one of those topics that the couple rarely talks about.

As it happened, from the age of 19, Erin experienced intense abdominal physical pain and fever, a condition which significantly worsened as time passed. Despite seeing several doctors, no one was able to give her clear answers for years, leaving Erin with the terrible uncertainty of not knowing what was going on with her.

It wasn’t until she underwent exploratory surgery in 2014 that doctors found out that Erin was suffering from a perforated appendix, which healed itself by spreading tissue all over her organs. Doctors had been unable to find out she was suffering from this condition due to how rare it was, but it was finally time for Erin to turn the page of this chapter of her life after so many years.

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While Erin’s pain was gone along with her appendix, the situation resulted in some mental health issues for Erin, such as having ‘extreme fear’ and ‘preoccupation with sickness’, as she confessed on Instagram in 2022: ‘My brain, without my permission, sets off on a fight or flight mission to save my life, when my life is not in any danger at all’, she wrote.

Despite the many problems caused by long-lasting health issues, Erin’s overcome them all.

Children

Even though she recovered well from her perforated appendix removal in 2014, Erin was told that the possibility of becoming pregnant was an unlikely one. Regarding her feelings at the time, she told People: ‘Not knowing is always the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. I like to have proof, and we had no proof that I would be able to have kids.’

Given all of Erin’s problems conceiving and the health-related hardships she faced, it was a big surprise for her and Ben to find out she was pregnant with their first child on 2017’s Mother’s Day. Although some small bits of their journey to become parents can be seen in “Home Town” second season, the couple kept the news about their first baby low key for several months, until finally making the big announcement in October that year.

 

In January 2018, the pair happily welcomed their daughter Helen, who was named in honor of Erin’s grandmother. Nonetheless, the surprises weren’t over for the Napiers, as the news of having a second baby was also unexpected, only finding out about it when Erin started developing sudden allergies. Their second daughter named Mae was born in May 2021, and was another happy addition into the family.

What Is Going On With The Napiers?

A lot has been going for the Napiers in recent times – early in 2022, they released the third show of their franchise entitled “Home Town Kickstarter”, which focused on renovations in six towns around the US, looking to preserve the historical value of those buildings and bring them to new life. As if that wasn’t enough, the Napiers also starred in the two online-exclusive series “Talkin’ Shop” and “Erin’spired”, and in April 2023, the pair celebrated “Home Town”s reaching the 100th episode milestone.

The Napiers’ happiness also extends to their private life, as they’ve also recently finished renovations of their second home on the outskirts of their hometown Laurel. As they showed during a sixth season episode of “Home Town” aired in December 2022, they bought the 1930s house in mid-2021, but a lot of changes were needed to turn it into the family’s dream house, including the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and study, but in the end, they made it all happen.

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As the couple told Southern Living, their new house on the outskirts allows them a lot of peaceful times, and serves as a weekend escape for the family, who felt that their primary home in the center of Laurel was becoming a little too small for their family of four.

All in all, despite all the health issues the Napiers have faced in the past years, these days they seem to be having lots of great times by just enjoying their TV success, and their businesses, always putting their family above everything else.

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Meet the Newest Swamp Baby: Pickle Wheat’s Daughter Is Here!

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Hunting ‘gators isn’t the easiest job around, yet there’s a group of people who live around the Atchafalaya River Basin who aren’t only more than willing to dedicate their lives to it but also enjoy doing so. As seen in the many seasons of “Swamp People”, catching ‘gators is a work which requires people to be fearless and a little too daring, but it’s worth it both for the money and keeping their familys’ traditions alive.

One of those fearless people is Pickle Wheat, who has demonstrated more than enough that she’s well fitted for the job, despite her young age. Nonetheless, besides being quite accomplished in catching ‘gators, Pickle is also a dedicated family mother, who recently welcomed her second baby.

So who is Pickle’s younger baby, and what’s with her current life? Stay here to know it all!

Did Pickle Wheat Become A Mother?

The “Swamp People” family recently welcomed a new member, who is none other than Pickle Wheat’s youngest baby. The girl was born in April 2023 and was named Maemi Rae, as her mother announced in a lovely Instagram pic at the time, in which the newborn girl could be seen sleeping while wrapped in a flowery blanket.

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Although the arrival of baby Maemi might be surprising for those who don’t follow Pickle’s social media, the truth is that the young ‘gator hunter had already announced her pregnancy back in November 2022, when she posted a Facebook pic of herself, her son, and her boyfriend buying baby clothes: ‘We are blessed beyond belief! This will be the best holiday season yet! I can’t wait to bring my little caboose on the alligator boat!’ she wrote, prompting her followers to ‘stay tuned’ for the following updates on her pregnancy journey.

Said and done, ever since she announced expecting a baby, Pickle grew rather active on social media and especially on Instagram, sharing photos and videos of her young family, and even revealing the name of her daughter a couple of months before giving birth.

All in all, there is nothing else for us than to congratulate Pickle on this chapter in her life.

What Else Is She Doing Now?

Even though it’s unclear if Pickle Wheat is taking time away from the swamps to take care of her newborn, the young ‘gator hunter was still an active “Swamp People” cast member by the time the show’s 14th season premiered in early 2023. Besides going on catching ‘gators, Pickle has some exciting adventures hunting snakes as well, even appearing alongside her mentor, Troy Landry in the third season of his show “Serpent Invasion”.

Although the life of a wild hunter is quite exciting on its own, this doesn’t stop Pickle from focusing on other projects. For a couple of years now, Pickle’s been selling her original designs through her online shop, picklewheat.com, listing everything from shirts to caps and hoodies in it.

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On the same line, Pickle’s popularity has been on the rise for some time now. Only a couple of months after starting her Instagram account in January 2023, Pickle has over 10,000 followers on the pic-sharing platform, added to the more than 100,000 fans she has on her official Facebook page, proving that she’s one of the most popular “Swamp People” stars.

Who Is Pickle Dating Now?

In October 2020, Pickle Wheat caught people’s attention for something very different than catching ‘gators, when she began dating her co-star Chase Landry. Back then the relationship became pretty obvious to anyone who was a fan of the pair, especially given how Pickle wasn’t shy from sharing pics with her boyfriend on her social media.

However, the relationship was short-lived, as a few months lafter Pickle deleted all her photos with Chase from her socials, and even her previous Instagram account at some point. It wasn’t until late 2022 when she shared news of her pregnancy on Facebook, that her followers were introduced to her new boyfriend, Joshua Kippes.

Not much is known about Joshua, except for the fact he’s an emergency technician and that he goes on a lot of adventures with Pickles. Though his professional background is vastly different than hers, Pickle has introduced him to her world by teaching him to hunt, and taking him on trips through her native Louisiana, as she’s proudly shown on social media.

Overall, Pickle seems to be very content about this new chapter in her life.

Did She Have An Accident?

Everyone who’s appeared in “Swamp People” is undoubtedly very experienced in what they do, but that doesn’t exclude them from having some rare accidents from time to time. It’s no different for Pickle Wheat, who a couple of years ago had a scary time while hunting ‘gators alongside Troy Landry.

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As Pickle recalled during an interview with The Sun, she was in the process of lifting a ‘gator from the water when the boat bumped over a cypress, resulting in Pickle falling overboard and onto the ‘gator. Although she was able to go back to the boat, the severity of the situation only dawned on her when she noticed Troy had been worried for her wellbeing.

At the end of the day, Pickle and Troy returned home safely, but the scary situation is one of those which reminds us of how dangerous the job of “Swamp People”s hunters is.

How Did Pickle Get Into ‘Gator Hunting?

Even though Pickle Wheat only became a main cast member of “Swamp People” in the 12th season, she had been catching ‘gators long before that.

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As it happens, Pickle, whose real name is Cheyennes Wheat, is just continuing a long-lasting tradition of gator hunters from her family. As she admitted during an interview with The Sun in 2023, her grandfather was an experienced ‘gator hunter who passed down his knowledge to the younger generations. Impressively enough, at the tender age of six, Pickle was already accompanying her elders to the swamps, gaining the necessary experience to not only catch ‘gators by herself years later, but also to love the swampland as if it was her own home.

That being said, Pickles has no doubts that her children will grow to love her profession as much as she does: ‘There’s really no reason to be scared, we are around it our whole lives, so I hope to raise them in the same way that I was brought up’, she said, also admitting that it would be a ‘dream come true’ to see her children following on her steps.

All in all, Pickle Wheat is a great gator hunter, but there’s more to her than just the swamps. Regardless of whatever the future has in store for her on TV or off-cameras, there’s no doubt she’s someone worth keeping our attention on.

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Autoimmune disease; Lost father in 2020; Raise $100k – How is Brandi Passante doing today?

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Brandi Passante is one of the most recognized faces in the reality television series “Storage Wars.” She’s undergone a series of challenges in her personal life these past few years, that some fans thought would drive her to end her participation in the show. Fans wouldn’t hold it against her if she indeed took some time off to rejuvenate, since it was devastating to deal with problems publicly such as the death of a loved one, domestic abuse, single motherhood, and an autoimmune disease. She bravely faced these misfortunes head-on, while inspiring others to maintain a positive outlook on life, by continuing to set goals and striving to achieve them.

Get to know Brandi Passante before “Storage Wars”

Brandi Leigh Passante was a Texas native, who was born on 16 May 1980, in the most populous county in the US, Harris County, to parents Joe Passante and Cheryl Gibson Begandy; she has two brothers, Alexander and Bruce. In the rare times that she mentioned her upbringing, it was to say that she had a tumultuous childhood. In one podcast guest appearance, she never refuted what the host said about her home – that it was unstable, unpredictable, and erratic at times. Brandi also agreed when the host said that she probably felt that she never stood on solid ground and that she just skated around to get by.

Her family was from a long line of coal-mining hillbillies. However, her father worked on cars, and his specialization was installing windows and windshields. In an interview, it was insinuated that she underwent mother-daughter challenges but never went into details. Fans then surmised that the reason why she didn’t like to talk about it was that she had a not-so-happy childhood, and it was somehow confirmed when she said, ‘I was constantly questioning if I was adopted or something, because I just felt that I never belonged.’ Be that as it may, Brandi had fond memories of her “Papaw,” her grandfather on her mom’s side named Robert Gene Gibson, who passed away in May 2013. He was the star of her first post on her Facebook account.

When Brandi met Jarrod

Aside from very rare photos and stories shared on her social media pages, nobody really knew anything about her until she joined a reality TV show with her boyfriend, Jarrod Schulz. Fans loved to hear how Brandi and Jarrod first met – it was back in 1999 when she started working at a carpet cleaning business, and he was her direct supervisor. Initially, he would jokingly tell everyone that she stalked him after their first meeting, but he confessed later on that he relentlessly pursued her. He knew that she was way out of his league, so he became creative as his friends would remind him to be extra careful and nice in dealing with her. Brandi said that he wore her down as he followed her wherever she went. His persistence won her over, and a few years later, they had two kids, Cameron and Payton.

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What was “Storage Wars” all about?

In the 21st century, reality shows redefined the TV format. People from all walks of life not only in the US but around the globe were hooked on these types of shows; they even dominated social media and streaming platforms. When “Storage Wars” was launched in 2010, the TV industry was shocked that something as banal or trivial as abandoned storage lockers would generate so much interest from viewers. Even some of the A&E executives thought that the idea would never work, but it did – in its first season, it averaged close to 2.5 million viewers weekly, and became one of the most viewed non-scripted shows on the cable channel. Its popularity started the whole storage auction craze on the entire reality TV programming, and has since enjoyed high viewership ratings, now approaching its 15th season this 2023.

“Storage Wars” featured a group of business entrepreneurs who purchased abandoned storage lockers or units by bidding on them during an auction at storage facilities. In most states in the US, a storage unit on which the rent hadn’t been paid for the past three months, the storage facility owners had the right to put it up for auction. Valuables such as artwork, machinery, antiques, and jewelry were reported to have been found in them; it had become a form of treasure hunting, but in storage facilities instead of going to exotic islands.

During the first season, Brandi Passante along with her fiancé Jarrod Schulz was joined by other storage buyers such as Dave Hester, Barry Weiss, Darrell Sheets and Brandon Sheets with resident auctioneers Dan and Laura Dotson.

Her journey with “Storage Wars”

One of the reasons that the reality series industry became a huge hit was mainly due to the interesting and controversial characters who were introduced to the public. In “Storage Wars,” Brandi easily became a fan favorite along with Jarrod, as they were the underdogs in a group of veteran storage auction buyers.

How did Brandi join “Storage Wars”

The producers of “Storage Wars” were on the lookout for people who were buying abandoned storage lockers in California. Brandi said that they were included in the cast mainly by chance – they were attending an auction in a storage facility center, and people from the production crew were filming for the pilot episode of the TV show. They initially talked to Jarrod, but when they saw Brandi, they immediately asked him if she would be interested in appearing on TV. It wasn’t as if the couple ever thought they would be on TV someday, but they agreed, as it could be good for their business, and at the same time bet paid for it. She said, ‘We really didn’t think it would go anywhere, but it became a big deal.’

Brandi Passante’s first appearance in the series

When viewers first saw her, they thought that she was from the stereotypical mold of those gorgeous blondes who were unfairly described as vain, dumb, and immensely superficial, but she wasn’t like that. During the first episode, she was introduced as Jarrod’s wife and business partner, who managed their second-hand thrift store called Now and Then located in Orange, California. Since she was the one who handled the accounting books, she knew if the store was making money out of Jarrod’s auction purchase. One day, he bought a unit with a car in it, but Brandi was still wary about the purchase, since their store still had the dirt bikes that turned out to be broken when he got them from an auction. This time around, he brought some great news, as he had someone appraise the car and said that it was worth around $2400. Brandi was happy that for once Jarrod was right; they were lucky. since he never had a chance to know if the car was running when placing a bid on the abandoned storage locker, for which he later paid $700.

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She started to take a larger role in storage hunting

It didn’t take long before Jarrod took Brandi to the auctions – normally, she would stay in the store while Jarrod hunted for the storage unit, but they decided to change their strategy and have her accompany him, to have another set of eyes and ears. She planned to stay in the background, look around, but make sure that the other buyers didn’t realize if Jarrod was interested in a unit or not, and their plan worked. Brandi kept on bidding during the auction and the others never realized that they had been played because at the end of the bidding process, Jarrod even asked the auctioneer who won the bidding. Some of the veteran buyers said that if they knew that she was Jarrod’s wife, they would have aggressively joined the bidding. Brandi said, ‘I’m not usually a bidder on the units so I think it kind of threw them off’; the other buyers said it wouldn’t happen again. She scored big, as most of the things inside the unit were unopened boxes with brand-new electronic gadgets. They earned $2300 from the unit, for which they paid just $800.

Started in a spin-off series called “Married to the Job”

Brandi and Jarrod became a favorite couple in the original series, and their popularity led the production team to give them a special. It was a test run, and the executives then gave the green light to produce the spin-off series, “Brandi and Jarrod: Married to the Job.” Viewers were curious about how the couple managed two thrift stores in California while raising their two kids at the same time; it was launched in August 2014 and had eight episodes, mostly about how Jarrod proposed to Brandi and their wedding plans, because apparently, they hadn’t officially exchanged wedding vows yet, even if they treated each other as husband and wife. For some reason, it never went past that first season, but they just continued filming for the original series.

Controversies Brandi dealt with while in “Storage Wars”

“Storage Wars” was supposed to be a reality TV series, but it didn’t mean that the stars could talk about their private lives in front of the camera if they wanted to. The cast had certain rules to follow, and the executive producers insisted on this requirement to maintain the stability of the show. Here are some of the controversies that Brandi was embroiled in but were never discussed on the show:

Brandi sued the Internet’s Most Hated Man

In October 2012, the reality TV star filed a lawsuit against Hunter Moore, also known as “Internet’s Most Hated Man” – he published unauthorized pornographic photos of men and women on his site, IsAnyoneUp.com. He claimed that he started it as a form of ‘revenge porn’ for those who had been jilted or wronged in a relationship. Many people submitted photos to him, and Hunter made money out of it. Brandi received many disturbing messages through Twitter such as ‘Love the pics’ and ‘Can’t wait for the video.’ She found out that Hunter posted nude photos, which he claimed were hers but were actually fake. She won the case as the judge ruled in her favor in June 2013 except for the actual damages that she was seeking. Brandi asked for $2.5 million, but the judge only awarded her $750, and payment for attorney fees. The court said that she was unable to provide pieces of evidence for the estimated calculation of damages, but Hunter’s site was shut down after it received a cease and desist order.

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She had plastic surgery as required by the A&E network

Dave Hester once filed a complaint against the producers of “Storage Wars” calling it fake, and that the producers staged most of the scenarios in the show. He also mentioned that the A&E network required Brandi to undergo plastic surgery to enhance her looks, and make her face more pleasing to the audience. Nobody believed it since there were many in the cast who weren’t asked to have a procedure done, but continued to be in the show. A few childhood and teen photos that were posted on her social media looked just like her adult self, so fans assumed that Dave was trying to be controversial and attract attention to his legal complaint.

Brandi and Jarrod quietly split up in 2018

The funny and sometimes spicy banter between Brandi and Jarrod was one of the reasons why fans fell in love with them. It was found out later on that the couple broke up in 2018, but they kept it a secret partly because of the TV show, and mainly for their children. It happened just after filming the 12th season of the show; there were times that some fans thought that the two separated since they were seen with a different person on their social media pages, but since neither officially confirmed it, it was just treated as a rumor. They never addressed it until the premiere of the 13th season. Jarrod said that just because they weren’t together anymore, it didn’t mean that they couldn’t work in the same business.

Her life after the split

Many people were surprised by the shocking revelations that unfolded after Brandi broke-up from her longtime partner. She became a little bit more open about herself, saying that for many years, she was forbidden to have an identity. ‘And so these last couple of years, I’m kind of coming into my own, and figuring out who I am.’

Lost her father in 2020

After the split-up became public, she lost her father, Baldassare Joseph Passante, on 26 October 2020 from lung cancer. Apparently, her father had been sick most of her life, as he suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for about 35 years. He also had arthritis, osteoporosis, and liver cancer. She paid tribute to her father on her Facebook account, with a photo of her sleeping on his father’s lap when she was still a baby. Brandi recalled that her father never once yelled or got mad at her.

Auto-immune disease

Some fans could sometimes be rudely vulgar on social media. Brandi was called names due to her raspy voice. She addressed it by telling everyone that she had been suffering from an auto-immune disorder, Hashimoto’s Disease., which specifically targeted the thyroid glands, and that made her voice raspy at times.

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Single motherhood

The transition in her life was a little harder than she thought it would be. She said that being a single mother would have been easier if her children were still young kids instead of teens, because they could be rebellious at times. Brandi shared, ‘Teenagers are tough, especially when you’re doing it by yourself.’ However, it seemed that they’ve adjusted pretty well now, based on her Instagram post, which showed her son matriculating from high school. She wrote, ‘So proud, & so fortunate to have these 2 beautiful, kind, & loving souls. I don’t know what I did to deserve them.’

Domestic violence charges

When Brandi and Jarrod revealed publicly that they’d broken up, everyone thought that everything was already resolved between them, since it had happened two years before they announced it. In April 2021, Brandi was out with friends in a bar in California; when Jarrod arrived at the place, the two talked but things got heated and she told him to go home. He refused and was getting physical by pushing her hard twice while yelling at her. Someone in the bar called the police, but when they arrived, he was long gone. However, after a report was filed, he was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence battery.

https://www.instagram.com/p/rp3krriSZQ/

People weren’t surprised anymore to see Brandi offering her services to fund-raising events such as the Women’s Own Worth in Arkansas – the organization helped abused women by empowering them with opportunities. She hosted the event, and raised about $100,000 for its cause. She said, ‘I’ve experienced some things in my life, and it’s a really wonderful cause.’ Brandi was still shy in sharing details of her misfortunes, and some people felt that it was because of her children.

She might have undergone many tragic events in her life, but she’d moved on, and there were rumors about her happily dating a new guy recently, but never sharing his identity.

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