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The Rise of Justin Swanstrom: From Drag Racing to Street Outlaws

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Justin “Li’l Country” Swanstrom was a rising star in the drag racing community, but his switch to “Street Outlaws” gave him global recognition considering how big the television franchise had become over the years. He developed a cult following due to his colorful and interesting character, not to mention his exceptional skills at the tracks. Many wondered how a full-time drag racer got into the Pilgrim Studios-produced reality show that delved into the world of possibly illegal street racing.

Get to know Justin Swanstrom

Justin Swanstrom was born and raised in the small town of Zephyrhills in Florida. His nickname was “Li’l Country” as his father, Corey Swanstrom, was “Big Country.” His family has several businesses including S&S Vac-Video since 2014, which provides CCTV Sanitary with depth measure, CCTV Lateral services, and CCTV Storm lines for joint measure & cracks. To put it simply, they have huge trucks equipped to operate as a vacuum cleaner but on steroids, and then they looked through all those pipes to check for damage or problems. Justin once said that work came first before racing, and when he later left the company to focus on racing, he did say that he would go back whenever his dad needed a hand.

He has been around drag racing his whole life, because of his dad. Corey loved muscle cars, and he used to street race with his gold Chevy before he got into drag racing – Justin often accompanied his father, and helped out at the race track. The first time he got into a race car was when he was 14; his dad bought a small-tire, single-turbo car and he messed around with it for about six or seven months before telling his dad that he wanted to race. Since he was quite young, they didn’t want him to go fast, so bought a naturally aspirated 520 big block Ford Mustang in California, and forged his birth certificate to get his National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) license so he could run at the tracks. Justin did a couple of burnouts, made his first pass on the track, and went 5.87 seconds – everything went well.

For Justin, racing was like a drug, but just to make it clear, he said that he didn’t do drugs and only drank every now and then. Unlike other race car drivers, however, he never formed any attachment to the cars that he drove during races. Over the years, he had a lot of cars that he sold and was okay with that. Justin usually keeps cars for radial vs world, grudge, and no prep racing.

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He was a self-taught mechanic. When he was just starting out in racing, he didn’t know anything about a car, such as how to fix it and make it work. He wasn’t that interested, so he didn’t take the time to learn all that, but eventually realized the value of such knowledge. Justin wasn’t even in his 20s when he could do mostly everything on his car, such as taking apart the motor and putting it back together, or changing converters and transmissions.

Who does Justin look up to the most?

Justin respected and admired his dad, who taught him to give 110% in everything he did. It was instilled in him that if he couldn’t give his best, then he shouldn’t do it all. He also idolized Stevie “Fast” Jackson because of how competitive he was. He knew he may never be on Stevie’s level, running in NHRA, but Justin would always put himself in this guy’s shoes when he was at the track and it seemed that nothing was going right, asking himself, ‘What would Stevie do?’

His journey in drag racing

Justin started with junior dragsters, but outclassed the other competitors when he reached a speed of 88mph at age 12. He moved on to grudge racing, which was a type of drag racing in which two drivers would go head to head in a race without any predetermined rules. He did that until the end of 2018, because he was unable to get into other races. Justin figured that if he wanted to continue with this expensive hobby, he had better acquire sponsorship to afford it, and the best way to do that was to join the radial versus the world (RVW) class. This is a highly competitive class in drag racing in which vehicles have radial tires providing better grip on the road instead of slick tires. He did pick up a lot of sponsors that were of tremendous help to him, soon getting them on board with his grudge racing as well.

Truth be told, he preferred grudge over class racing because there was a lot of trash-talking and hustling involved in it, and he enjoyed all that. His main reason, however, was that he liked gambling. He felt that once he was off the line on a drag strip, he had a 50/50 chance of winning that race – those odds were a lot better than going to a casino. He went to a casino once and lost $800 in 20 minutes, vowing never to go back, but he would continue gambling at the racetrack.

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At the age of 17, he was already a force to reckon with at the X275 doorslammer-class in 2013. He set the record for the best elapsed time at 4.86 seconds on the eighth-mile track and won Wild Tomato Nationals at Immokalee Regional Raceway, then scored a back-to-back win at the US Street Nationals held at Bradenton Motorsports Park. He might have lost in the Heads Up Madness event at the Florida drag strip, but set a record with his elapsed time of 4.710 seconds at 149.52 mph during the second round of eliminations.

His experience at the tracks wasn’t all good. There was a time when he had to overcome his fear of racing following a mishap at the Lakeland drag strip. He made the rookie mistake of watching his opponent instead of his lane, so didn’t notice that he was close to the wall – the car shifted into high gear and spun around before hitting the wall. He said that the accident was not that bad, but it was something he had never experienced before, and it shook him. His father fixed the car, and they took it back to the drag strip where it happened because his father wanted Justin to conquer his issues over it, and he did.

Background on “Street Outlaws”

The nature of street racing might be illegal, but it gave people an added thrill, so the fascination for it was never-ending. “Street Outlaws” made its TV debut on Discovery Channel in 2013, and its ratings soon rose to the top, and resulted in the launching of several spin-off series such as “Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings” (NPK) in which Justin Swanstrom would be heavily involved.

An NPK race simulates the condition of a street, which meant that the track isn’t prepared ahead of time. It would factor in on the outcome of a race, because the driver would be dealing with a lot of unknowns and would try to compensate for them. Viewers found this to be much more exciting than most forms of drag racing, in which the track was prepped. Many believe that NPK has since become the biggest platform in drag racing.

How did Justin Swanstrom become part of “Street Outlaws”

In a 2019 Dragzine interview with Wes Buck, Justin described himself as a full-time drag racer. He admitted to not having street raced before, and shared how he got into “Street Outlaws.” The previous year he chanced upon a video of an NPK race at  Bristol, in which the drivers ran for $200,000, and found himself interested in it. Justin wasn’t familiar with NPK, but the race that he watched turned everything around for him on the path he wanted to take, as far as his racing career was concerned. However, he had to talk his dad into it, because having a radial background, the latter didn’t want anything to do with big tires and wheelie bars. Justin did a lot of begging to get everything going, because he felt that it would be huge, so wanted to give it a shot.

Several months later, he finally convinced his father, and they got started on putting together a car, a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro Fifth Generation, for the 2019 NPK race. He was somewhat familiar with Daddy Dave and Kye Kelley from the show, because the two ran some radials as well, and he talked them into putting in some good words for him. They were instrumental in getting him there – not that everything was handed out to him; he worked hard for it and his crew put in the time on what was needed for him to qualify. He participated in the Future Street Outlaws Class, in which big tires battled it out for a chance to take part in the main NPK event.

Justin said that he wasn’t better than the rest of the drivers, but he was brought in to be part of the hit series, mainly because he and his crew were great for TV. They had lots of ‘exciting’ moments befitting a reality show.

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Justin was introduced to NPK fans

“NPK” was in its third season when Justin made his first appearance, participating in several grudge matches. He won against NPK veteran Kye Kelley twice at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ohio, and took home $10,000. However, he lost to Lizzy Musi at the New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, but then beat Larry Larson at the race track in Morrison, Colorado, and this should have been his ticket to the main event with $40,000 as the prize money. Unfortunately, his car had issues that his team was unable to fix in time. He was quite frustrated by this development, as he wanted to make a name for himself along with his team, the Swan Gang, and show everybody what he could do.

Crashed his $200,000 No Prep car in 2019

His foray into the NPK world was a tough one. Justin said, ‘I don’t know if it was paint color, motor combination, we just could not make it work. It was probably the worst luck I’ve ever had in racing.’ Everything culminated in a crash, but he said that it helped build his story for the show. He was up against Bobby Ducote from team New Orleans in a grudge race that took place in Norwalk, Ohio. After crossing the finish line, he was headed towards the center line and pulled a hard right, smashing onto the guard rail with such force that the impact propelled him toward the other lane and caused him to hit the concrete barrier there as well. The car went back to his lane before finally stopping. He was knocked out and only came to when the paramedics were there, telling them that he couldn’t feel his shoulder. Justin was banged up so badly that he was lifted onto a stretcher and taken to hospital.

His first full season in the NPK series

Despite the major setback that cut his racing season short, it didn’t deter Justin from coming back to the tracks for season four of the series. Fortunately, he accomplished the goals he set for himself with his ProCharger-boosted Lexus, which he referred to as “Prenup.” He won a couple of races on the 15-race tour and got enough points to finish third behind Kye Kelley and Ryan Martin. All in all, he considered it as a good season; it certainly put him on people’s radar as a serious contender for the top spot.

Maple Grove crash in season five

During the “Great 8” event for NPK at the Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania, Justin competed against Dave Adkins. As they neared the finish line, Justin’s car caught fire and then his quarter panel on the passenger side was hit by Dave when the latter lost control of his car, and the two got tangled up with the parachute deployed. With the car still on fire, he got out and tumbled over the concrete wall. It was said that an intake manifold blew and caused a fire to ignite under the hood. After the fire was extinguished, there seemed to be a heated argument going on at the track, which led to various speculations.

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Later on, Justin clarified things via his Facebook page. First, he shared that his face got hot, but other than that, he was fine. Next, his dad got ‘excited’ when a cop grabbed Justin for some reason, but it didn’t escalate. Lastly, Justin didn’t body slam a cop, but he did get angry at someone from the track who made a comment about getting tired of fixing the walls. His father addressed some issues as well through his social media account, admitting that the fire was their fault, as they’d overlooked something in the pits. The important thing was that his son and Dave walked away from the crash. He apologized to his wife, Melissa, for putting up with all the craziness of what they loved to do, but saying that racing had been his ‘crutch’, and that he let their son enjoy it as well.

Is he getting paid to race in the show?

Many were curious to know if Justin got paid to race in NPK events; he could only speak for himself, because he didn’t know what the arrangements were between the other cast members and the producers. In 2019, he said that he didn’t get paid to show up at the race – since he enjoyed racing, he just went there on his own. It cost him $3,000-$5,000 to run a race each weekend, saying that he spent around $800 every time he fired up his car. Whenever there was an opportunity for him to participate in a grudge race or shootout, he went for it, and tried to break even or get a little money before going back home.

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Justin as an influencer

He put up his own YouTube Channel in May 2019, all about racing, with some comedy skits in it. He already had a big fan base on his Instagram account, and many suggested to him that he upload content onto the popular video-sharing website. He wasn’t too keen on the idea at first because he wasn’t computer savvy, but he later got into it. Justin thought to inspire others to get into racing, and shared a little information on how to go about that. He didn’t want to reveal everything he and his dad learned over the years unless he would be compensated for it, but he was willing to give some details that would be of help to an average person. His content was quite informative as well as interesting, so his subscribers grew to more than 80,000 and his videos garnered over 19 million views.

Justin’s life revolved around working, racing, and vlogging. He said that he was so busy that he didn’t have time for anything else; not that he had other hobbies. He didn’t have much of a social life either, because of the schedule he keeps. It didn’t mean that he isn’t having fun, because what he does for a living is excitement enough for him.

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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What You Never Knew About the Car Guru: Who is Shawn Pilot?

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Being called a car guru is an honor not easily gained by anyone, but Shawn Pilot is merited enough to be called so. Since debuting in “Car Masters: Rust To Riches”, Shawn has gained the audience’s hearts with his vast knowledge about car restoration and customization, on top of his great sense of humor and skillful ways of entertaining viewers.

There’s no doubt that Shawn awakens a sense of curiosity in the audience and fans alike, turning him into a fan favorite in no time, and gaining him enough fame to start his own independent projects.

So do you want to know more about Shawn Pilot? Stay here to discover all the often little-known facts about him, from his personal life, passing to the less-known side of his career on TV, to his best well-kept automotive-related secrets!

Shawn’s Debut

Although Shawn Pilot has become widely known for his appearances in “Car Masters: Rust To Riches”, what many don’t know is that he debuted in the entertainment industry long before this show premiered in 2018.

As it happens, Shawn’s earliest job in the industry dates back to 1999, when he appeared as a berm soldier in the movie “Three Kings”. While his role was small, having some type of acting experience is rather unexpected for a man who is nowadays known for his job in the very different industry of automotive customization.

As well, Shawn’s credit in the movie is somewhat impressive considering he shared the stage with the likes of George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg. Other than that, it’s unknown if Shawn had other uncredited acting roles in movies or TV, but his experience in front of cameras is noticeable to anyone who has ever watched “Car Masters”.

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He Was In Another Car Series

After debuting in a 1999 movie as an actor, Shawn Pilot’s first unscripted appearance on the small screen came in 2011, with the series “Inside West Coast Customs”. Centered on the California-based business West Coast Customs and its owner Ryan Friedlinghaus, the show introduced the audience to amazing car restorations, and the process behind them.

Shawn appeared in the episode “Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas” from the second season, in which the staff restored and mixed a 1958 Corvette with a C6 for the famous hip-hop singer and producer. Given that Shawn’s specialty is Corvettes, he was of great help in the process of finding the right cars to conceptualize, and make Will.I.Am’s vision come alive.

 

The ending result was the Willvette, a red-painted futuristic-looking car which perfectly combines the best parts of the older and modern Corvettes, both on the outside and inside. It was undeniably a great addition to Shawn’s job resume in the automotive world, and also proves that he’s been doing his thing in the automotive world for quite some time.

He’s Been To Great Car Shows

The car world is a big passion of Shawn Pilot, even when cameras aren’t rolling. As seen on his social media, he’s often present at some of the industry’s most coveted events, such as the Specialty Equipment Market Association, generally known as SEMA’s show.

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While it’s unclear if Shawn attends these events to promote some of Gotham Garage’s customization works, or as a celebrity guest, that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying the experience no end. Fans also enjoy the thrill of meeting their favorite “Car Masters” dealer in person, as the several tagged photos of Shawn with fans on Instagram easily demonstrate.

He’s a Very Private Person

Though it’s usual for reality TV stars to exploit their public image for the sake of money and fame, that’s not the case with Shawn Pilot. Despite having accumulated several thousand followers on Instagram so far, Shawn’s posts to date aren’t numerous, and are posted at long intervals. The oldest photos on his account date back to 2018, which makes it impossible to trace his life prior to the show’s premiere.

On top of having no public Facebook account for fans, Shawn also remains inactive on his personal profile on the platform.

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While this choice for privacy is rarely noted in a TV star, Shawn has let us know some personal details about himself, such as his closeness with his mom Carol, who appeared in the fourth season of “Car Masters” as a guest, and wore matching race suits with her son. It’s also known that Shawn has a daughter and two grandchildren, but further information about his romantic life or partners – past or present -hasn’t been revealed.

He’s Popular & Quite Rich

Given how well-liked Shawn Pilot is by the “Car Masters” audience, it’s truly unsurprising that he’s quite an agreeable personality, and is easily liked by people everywhere. Besides the fact that his Instagram account has almost 30,000 followers, despite being rarely updated, Shawn has proved his knack for catching viewers’ attention with his original and very popular YouTube content.

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After sharing his first video on the platform in March 2023, Shawn gained over 30,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views in less than a month, a very impressive accomplishment, especially considering that his channel had remained inactive since he started it in 2013.

Regarding Shawn’s financial details, several online sources point to his net worth being a modest $500,000 as of April 2023. While he’s refrained from revealing whether this figure comes from his job on TV and as a car dealer, it’s safe to assume a huge part of it comes from his profitable hobby as a poker player.

As registered on some websites such as CardPlayer.com, Shawn has earned around $373,894 in tournaments since he debuted as a professional poker player in the late 2000s. His best winning night was in 2009, when he won $39,663 in one go, which is quite impressive.

He’s A Corvette Guy

Shawn Pilot’s love for Corvettes has been more than evident in his appearances in “Car Masters”, and it’s the same for his everyday life. As it happens, Shawn’s YouTube channel not only makes sure to showcase his love for Corvettes and good deals but is also part of his new project VetteRod, with which he plans to brand himself as a connoisseur of this car brand.

As read on VetteRod’s official website, Shawn considers himself a ‘genuine Corvette freak’ and is the proud owner of over 100 of them, including the black and red stripped-out Corvette Z51, which was introduced in the show as the Vette Kart., suggesting that these aren’t included in his estimated net worth.

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Shawn’s love for ‘Vettes goes from finding them somewhere on the internet, to making a deal after assessing the car’s body and engine conditions, before finally taking them to his Los Angeles shop to fix them. Some of his Corvettes end up on sale, but others are added to his large collection. The couple of videos on Shawn’s YouTube channel also let us see that not only is he vastly knowledgeable when it comes to solving issues under a car’s hood, but has a great talent as a host.

All in all, Shawn’s off and on-screen career has been amazing so far. Going from the times he had a small role in a Hollywood film, then becoming a reality TV star, to finally creating his original online content, it’s clear that Shawn and his VetteRod have a bright future ahead.

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Captain Sig Hansen Faces a Lawsuit from a “Deadliest Catch” Deckhand

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The tough captain of the fishing vessel Northwestern, Captain Sig Hansen, became one of the most recognized reality television personalities through the hit series “Deadliest Catch.” His amazing exploits in the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea was well documented by Discovery Channel since the TV show was launched in 2005. His journey with the show had been smooth sailing until he faced a lawsuit filed by a former deckhand, citing inadequate and delayed medical treatment for his abdominal pain, which resulted in an emergency operation along with the discovery of a more serious medical condition.

Get to know Captain Sig Hansen

Sig Hansen was arguably the most popular crab fishing captain in the reality TV series “Deadliest Catch.” His success in the industry was primarily due to his family background.

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Growing up years and family

Sigurd Jonny Hansen was born on 28 April 1966, in a Scandinavian fishing community in Seattle, Washington State. Initially, his parents, Sverre and Snefryd, debated on whose father would be their eldest child’s namesake. Eventually, his father won and he was named after his grandfather, Sigurd. To ensure that his other grandfather, Jakob, wouldn’t be left out, Sig was christened with a second name Jonny as a tribute to him. Apparently in Norway, if a person wasn’t chosen to be the baby’s namesake, it was considered an honor to choose one that began with the same letter of his name. However, Sig recalled that being given such a name, Sigurd Jonny meant getting into many fistfights growing up in 1970s America, as he was oftentimes teased by friends and classmates. The family moved out from to Shoreline, Washington State, to a bigger house with a yard. He has two younger brothers named Edgar and Norman.

He grew up surrounded by Norwegians, Swedes and Danes; most never really spoke English unless they needed to. There was a time when he was in elementary when Sig went home with a note from his teacher addressed to his parents telling them, ‘TEACH HIM ENGLISH. STOP SPEAKING NORWEGIAN.’ They didn’t attend PTA meetings as his father was out at sea nine months a year, and his mom only spoke English when paying bills or buying groceries.

His family’s fishing legacy

Sig came from a long line of Norwegian fishermen, sailors, merchant marine workers, and captains. His father, Sverre, was also a captain of a fishing vessel just like his grandfather before him. When the fishing industry around Seattle declined back then, he and a few brave and adventurous fishermen went farther North to explore the Bering Sea. They couldn’t believe their luck when they found an immense treasure in the form of Red King crabs. Today, Sverre is widely acknowledged as one of the pioneers in the crab industry in Alaska. Dutch Harbor wasn’t as popular and successful as it had been in the last two decades; at that time, it was only a few Japanese and local trawlers who had been catching crabs, but when the Norwegians and Americans developed the boxlike steel traps, they amassed a fortune. It was from a bygone era when fishermen mostly relied on experience, gut instinct, and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive with huge hauls of crabs, without the assistance of technology. Some people in Sig’s family were swept overboard, and it didn’t matter if they did everything right, the Bering Sea was just brutal so even the most cautious men perished at sea.

His fishing background

Captain Sig Hansen started fishing at the young age of 12, and was mainly taught by his father. He was already aware of how dangerous their profession was, as he grew up watching his grandfather walk around with crutches because of it, however, it didn’t deter him from dreaming of becoming just like them. His mother knew right from the beginning that he would continue the family legacy, as the young Sig would draw boats and crab pots instead of practicing how to write the alphabet. Initially, he had a terrible bout of seasickness, but he eventually became used to the rough waves. Aside from watching his father do his job aboard the family-owned fishing vessel called Northwestern, he also accompanied his uncle on fishing exploits. However, his first real fishing job was under his father’s friend who never hired greenhorns, but took him in as a favor. Sig’s father equipped him well with the best fishing gear and a piece of solid advice that he followed to the letter. ‘Keep your mouth shut, do what he tells you, and everything will be fine.’

Sig Hansen and his journey in “Deadliest Catch”

Captain Sig Hansen often considered the Bering Sea as the major league of the fishing industry and Dutch Harbor as Yankee Stadium. He was used to playing in the biggest game, competing with the biggest boats, and making the biggest paychecks in a place with the biggest egos. However, he never thought that his job would have him working under the beaming lights of Hollywood, as he became part of the original cast of a reality TV show. He often wondered how it would be if his father was still around when it all happened.

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What was “Deadliest Catch” all about?

Hunting for the Alaskan king crabs was not for the faint of heart. Crab fishing wasn’t only challenging but quite unpredictable as well. Most of the time, the weather didn’t co-operate, and the crabs would forever play hide and seek, which made it great for TV. A documentary about this profession was turned into a fully-fledged reality show called “Deadliest Catch.” The TV show presented the fearless fishermen who would battle it out with the raging waves of the cold Bering Sea as they navigated their way to the fishing spots where crab populations continued to shift, depending on several factors including climate change. The series premiered on 12 April 2005, and has been on the air for 19 seasons and counting, produced by Original Productions for Discovery Channel.

Captain Sig’s crew of the F/V Northwestern

The F/V Northwestern had been under Captain Sig’s helm for the past three decades. It wouldn’t be as successful as it had been for many years if not for the support of his fishing family and his dedicated crew that worked alongside him. It had been one of the original fishing boats featured in “Deadliest Catch,” and throughout the years, viewers became familiar with his crew. Some had been with him from the start, but due to the nature of the job, there had been changes over time. Both of the Captain’s younger brothers were part of the Northwestern crew. Edgar worked as the ship’s deck boss and engineer while Norman would alternate as the cook and deckhand, or take responsibility for whatever was needed to be done in the boat. A few seasoned deckhands such as Matt Bradley and Nick Mavar Jr. were the notable ones, but they left the boat for different reasons in 2020. Nick’s nephew, Jake Anderson was also part of the crew for a time, but went on to be the captain of another fishing vessel later on. In recent seasons, the captain’s other family members came in to contribute their skills and expertise to catching crabs including his wife June and his adopted daughter, Maddy, whom he was grooming to be his successor when he hired her back in 2009.

Notable accidents at sea

In every fishing vessel, it was expected that aside from the captain and deckhands, there would be mechanics and welders who could practically fix just about anything, so any incidents that would occur due to the force of nature or overworked machines could be immediately corrected. For instance, a fire broke out in the 9th episode of the 12th season of “Deadliest Catch.” The boat lost its power without any warning, but Captain Sig told everyone to stay calm as his crew put out the fire, and the engineer assessed the problem. Their priority was to isolate the damaged breakers so that they could still use enough power to get the crab pots from the sea before returning to port. During the same season, a part of the boat’s bow cracked as they were hit by a 35-foot rogue wave. He said, ‘I hope we have something in our gear, man, that’s all I can say.’ The F/V Northwestern was lucky enough that for all the years it was at sea, it only had one collision with another boat, in March 2019 as it was nearing Dutch Harbor. The other fishing vessel was cruising out of control and crashed straight into Captain Sig’s boat. While neither boas sustained overwhelming damage, it was a clear reminder that accidents do happen even with a calmer sea and in good weather.

Captain Sig Hansen’s health struggles at sea

Health challenges also occurred at sea, mostly because of extreme exhaustion due to long hours of hard work and an unhealthy lifestyle. Captain Sig Hansen had a severe head injury in the 1990s, when a metal block struck him on his head.  While it didn’t result in a serious long-term effect on him, it was a painful lesson to learn to be extra cautious while on deck. He suffered a heart attack in March 2016, captured in “Deadliest Catch” along with the medical evacuation so he could be rushed to a hospital in Anchorage. The tests revealed that he needed emergency surgery since an artery had burst. His doctor said that he was lucky because what he had was what they called the “widow maker.” However, after eight months, he was back at sea. There was also a time when the deckhands noticed that he became incoherent, so a producer fetched his brother Edgar from the engineering bay to check on him, but he couldn’t be convinced to call it a day. Edgar then called Sig’s wife back home and that was only the time he agreed to rest in his cabin.

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Success in catching crabs

Due to his extensive experience in crab fishing, Captain Sig would often come home with a huge haul of crabs. During the second season of the reality TV show, his crew was ecstatic that they returned with crabs worth over $1 million. When his tanks were full, he immediately put the boat at top speed because the price of his haul would drop the next day if he couldn’t deliver them to the processing plant in time. In 2019, with his adopted daughter Mandy as relief captain, the F/V Northwestern recorded a staggering catch, and the crew went home with more crabs than they anticipated. The Captain then knew that he could retire anytime he wanted to, because the business was in safe hands. However, the problem was that he didn’t want to stop working. He said in an interview, ‘I can’t stop, that’s the problem. All of us are egomaniacs. You want to stop, but the ego portion won’t let me stop.’

Captain Sig Hansen’s controversial lawsuits

The more Captain Sig Hansen became popular, the more he was embroiled in several rumors and possible controversies. Most of them were unfounded, but a few of them became much-talked about especially on social media platforms due to the scandalous nature of the issue.

Abuse allegations by a daughter from a previous marriage

“Deadliest Catch” fans were surprised when reports circulated on blog sites that Captain Sig Hansen’s biological estranged daughter named Melissa Eckstrom from his previous marriage made allegations that her father sexually abused her when she was about two years old; it was during the time when her parents were in the process of divorcing in 1990. The adult Melissa said that she went into depression, had suicidal tendencies and eating disorders during her childhood because of the incident. She said that the memory of his abuse was still prevalent in her memory. Based on court records, the prosecutor back then didn’t file a case as they knew they couldn’t prove the allegations, even if they believed Melissa was sexually abused. The F/V Northwestern captain denied the accusations and claimed, ‘This is nothing more than an old-fashioned shakedown.’ Sig said that the lawsuit was some sort of blackmail, and reiterated that it was full of lies concocted by his ex-wife when she took their daughter away from him. It was also used in her attempts to get money from him. Apparently, after the divorce, the captain relinquished all his parental rights, as he thought it would be the best decision for his daughter.

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In 2010, Melissa reached out to Sig to ask for help to pay her law school fees, and Sig assigned a mediator to ensure everything was properly documented. However, it didn’t push through as his daughter and ex-wife wanted Sig to pay $300,000 or else they would go to the press. He then filed a police report of what he believed was extortion. When the police intervened, his ex-wife said that he abused their daughter, and that he never paid the support money worth $50,000 as agreed upon during the divorce, which Sig vehemently denied. His lawyers said that they paid for it, and that the case should be dismissed since it was already proven in the past that he didn’t abuse his daughter – it would be a case of double jeopardy. Later, during an interview, Melissa said that she wasn’t after his father’s money, but was asking for justice for what he did to her. A $1.5 million settlement was supposed to close all the issues in 2016, but the mediation fell apart because Sig’s lawyers insisted that if any word from the agreement was leaked to the public, Melissa would lose her lawyer’s license, insisting on that to protect Sig and his family. The case was still in the hands of the Court of Appeals, as they would decide if there was any new evidence to reopen the case.

Former deckhand sued F/V Northwestern’s Captain in 2023

Before 2022 ended, and just a few months after the Captain and his daughter headlined their own spin-off series called “Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns,” they were greeted by a lawsuit. Nick Mavar Jr., a former deckhand on the F/V Northwestern, filed a lawsuit against Sig Hansen and other owners of the boat, demanding $1 million in damages for failure to provide medical help during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also cited that the delay in an adequate examination of his abdominal pain onboard the fishing vessel led to his appendix rupturing and the late discovery of a tumor, which proved to be cancerous. Nick suffered many illnesses including infections that led to more complications and surgeries.

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Captain Sig and the other owners of the boat denied liability in Nick’s personal injury lawsuit. They shifted the blame to Original Productions, the production company of “Deadliest Catch,” and Trifecta Solutions LLC, the subcontractor that they hired to provide medical support for the crew of the boat. Apparently, when Nick complained of abdominal pain, the company’s medics checked on him multiple times but failed to act on it with urgency. Captain Sig and other Northwestern’s owners, through their lawyers LeGros Buchanan and Paul, sought for damages associated to what happened to Nick’s medical care. Despite the ongoing lawsuits, Captain Sig and his daughter Maddy were seen in the 19th season of the reality TV show, which started to air in April 2023.

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Mama June’s Health Condition

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June Shannon, better known as Mama June, became a reality TV star when TLC gave her and her daughter the TV show “Honey Boo Boo,” in August 2012. Although it was canceled in August 2014, she didn’t disappear into obscurity. Instead, Mama June rebranded herself through her weight loss journey, and WE tv granted her the TV show, “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” in 2017. Sadly, that’s also when her health problems began; she experienced vision loss and had several surgical opertions. Then, after regaining the weight that she’d lost, she made things worse by ecoming addicted to cocaine, and was subsequetly arrested with her boyfriend in 2019.

However, what worried her fans the most was her struggle to control her lymphatic system, which threatened her life in 2021. Despite alleviating the pain and swelling, Mama June ran into a new set of issues, with lightheadedness and migraines in September 2022. Still, doctors couldn’t diagnose her with anything specific. Mama June’s journey to find what has been ailing her is the main topic of the sixth season of her show on WE tv; we’ve compiled a list of her symptoms to see if we can guess the reason.

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Mama June’s eye damage could have had consequences

All viewers eventually noticed that Mama June squints frequently, and that her eyes seem out of the ordinary. However, it wasn’t until one episode of “Mama June: From Not to Hot” in 2018 that she revealed the cause. After experiencing eye problems, she said, ‘”I’m totally scared about losing my vision. I feel like I’m going to lose my independence, and it’s really starting to weigh on me.’

She revealed in a confessional that she was born with cataracts in both eyes but that her parents didn’t intervene, consequently, she went blind in her right eye in 2014. However, nothing happened to her left eye until that fateful episode when she woke up blind. That prompted her then-boyfriend Geno and daughter Alana “Honey Boo Boo” to take her to the hospital.

After doctors diagnosed her with a detached retina, Mama June underwent four eye opertions to correct the damage – one included applying a scleral buckle to attach the retina to the eye and restore her eyesight. Despite her fears that she won’t see her daughter’s baby since Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon’s delivery date was approaching, she never complained about her eyesight again until 2022. However, Mama June briefly gained weight since she couldn’t exercise, and started living a sedentary lifestyle. She also felt slightly depressed, because she had to rely on others for everyday tasks.

She struggled with drug addiction

Police officers booked her and her then-boyfriend Geno Doak for having drug paraphernalia in their car on 13 March 2019, and for threats of violence. They pleaded guilty in October, attended drug rehab, the went their separate ways afterwards. Mama June later admitted to spending $3,000 daily on her drug habit, and over $1 million on her cocaine habit. That ruined her family dynamics, for obvious reasons, and her finances; she spent that year slowly selling everything she owned in garage sales. That also destroyed her relationships with neighbors and fans since she ignored their warnings.

Mama June received bad news over two years ago

Her addition and cataracts were worrying from the get-go, but not to the point of requiring emergency care. What scared everyone was her sudden prediction that she could ‘die within six months,’ which was allegedly confirmed by the doctor. In an episode of her family show, aired on 26 March 2021, her sister Doe Doe asked her why she was using a walker, suspecting that drugs were the cause.

Mama June rejected that claim, and explained to her audience and her sister that her doctor, who removed fat from her chin, told her that he thought that she had lymphedema and lipidemia. The former illness is a swelling caused by the build-up of the body’s lymph fluid, causing tingling sensations, feelings of heavy limbs, pain, and more. Lipidemia suggests the presence of extra lipids or fats in the blood, and irregular distribution of fat across the body.

According to the doctor, Mama June had reached a worrying point. She was at stage 3 of lymphedema, meaning that fibro adipose tissue began accumulating in her skin, and that she had skin changes. After his explanation, she realized that the disease, not obesity, caused her uneven limbs. Mama June explained that her left leg was larger than the right by 13in or 33cms. Similarly, her left arm was 27in or 68cms in diameter while her left was 6in or 15cms smaller. After the episode aired, Mama posted on Twitter that she wanted to inspire other women to check if they have the same condition. She credited Dr. Schwartz for enlightening her; lymphedema is more common in larger women and is often misdiagnosed as cellulitis or morbid obesity.

She was hospitalized last September

News broke in September 2022 that Mama June had to be hospitalized. When she was released from the hospital, she explained that she’d begun experiencing dizziness and headaches routinely, but swore that she didn’t experiment with alcohol or drugs. Nonetheless, despite performing various tests and scans, the doctors didn’t identify the cause of Mama June’s problems.

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Mama June’s weight loss helped minimally

Her struggles with lipidemia confused some followers who thought that her weight loss would help her condition. Additionally, Mama June underwent a gastric sleeve, tummy tuck, and other cosmetic operations. Additionally, her nutritionist likely recommended a diet with low carbohydrates and high-fat macronutrients. After combining an operation, proper diet and exercising with Atlanta-based personal trainer Kenya Crooks, Mama June lost about 300lbs or 135kgs from her peak weight.

Unfortunately, medical research shows that lipedema fat cells are nearly immune to diet and exercise. Some experiments suggest that a ketogenic diet reduces pain and swelling and mildly affects the loss of actual fat; hence, it is the go-to diet.

Nonetheless, in the absence of a cure, patients who want to reduce the number of fat cells must choose an operation, usually liposuction or lymphatic drainage. Therefore, Mama June likely started doing aqua aerobics, yoga, pilates, and wearing compression garments, all promoting lymph flow.

Her daughter also had an abnormal growth

Another scary bit of information is that her daughter, Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell, had a stage 4 adrenal carcinoma in January 2023 after complaining of stomach and back pain. Although she initially only had a cyst, which they removed, the doctors later discovered that the cancer had reached her lungs, spleen and liver. Anna seemed to be recovering, and had a scan on 6 May to assess the situation, but she hasn’t shared the results. That type of cancer predominantly attacks children and middle-aged adults, meaning that Mama June is at risk based on her age and genetics. However, her issues a few months before the diagnosis were too mild to say for sure, and doctors did not want to rush to conclusions.

She encountered new medical issues this May

While she seems to be taking care of her illness, Mama June started experiencing different symptoms during the sixth season of her show, “Mama June: Family Crisis.” In the debut episode aired on 5 May 2023, the cameras follow her and her new husband, Justin Stroud, as they relocated to Alabama without notifying any of her children.

While having breakfast and discussing their marriage, Mama June started complaining to her husband about unusual symptoms, that she’d began losing feeling in half of her body and face.

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Mama June’s symptoms contiued, and Justin took her to the emergency room the next day, but she received no conclusive diagnosis. Therefore, viewers had to speculate on what happened, which could be intentional; it boosts the reality TV show’s viewer base. Based on her known medical history, a lymphedema flare-up was the predominant guess on the Internet. However, one of her daughters was immediately suspicious that June was taking drugs after three years of sobriety and that she was having a bad reaction.

Mama June’s medical condition is still unknown

When accused of drug relapse, Mama June commented, ‘I’m getting tired of having severe headaches and not being able to think… I’m getting tired of being dizzy and not being able to see straight.’ She indirectly denied the accusations, and stated that she couldn’t have taken drugs even if she wanted, as her prior drug addiction makes doctors suspicious, and they think that she fakes symptoms to obtain painkiller prescriptions. However, she’s now sought new doctors who would take her seriously, because ‘she was tired of tests coming back normal’, and refusals.

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Mama June wanted to run more tests and do extra bloodwork to determine what was happening. Unfortunately, according to her, good doctors have a busy schedule; hence, she needs six or seven months to get them to see her. Her eyes could be causing the issues with headaches and dizziness, however, it might be something that she hid, too; losing feeling in one half of her body may indicate a stroke; some reports were that Mama June ‘had mini-strokes’ in September 2022.

Also, that wasn’t the first time that she’d kept some things to herself. For example, while she was open about her drug habit, she didn’t reveal one detail until recently. During a recent discussion about her health issues, Mama June off-handedly mentioned that snorting cocaine damaged her vision, forcing her to transition to smoking crack cocaine. Regardless, she’s adamant that drugs aren’t the root cause of the problem.

Her family will keep her accountable

Although something is wrong with her body, Mama June has improved her mental health. She recently got her priorities straight and started focusing on her family; her biggest criticism was prioritizing her former relationships over caring for her daughters. Early in 2023, after constantly traveling back and forth to her, Mama June welcomed her daughter Anna into her Alabama home and tended to her during cancer treatments.

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Moreover, she was overcome with guilt over spending so much money on drugs, and now handles finances responsibly. Her family thinks that she’s taking it to the extreme; she admits to being a penny pincher, while her husband calls her a money hoarder.

Overall, Mama June is dedicated to her and her family’s health, and is eager to find the cause of her mysterious illness by seeing the right doctor. She also stopped denying help and accusations of bad behavior or poor self-accountability. Most importantly, she is honest about her symptoms, and refuses to take unnecessary drugs, increasing her chances of finding a professional willing to dig deeper.

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