5 Reality TV stars who went bankrupt: From Janice Dickinson's plastic surgery debts to Stephen Baldwin's tax fraud
Reality TV means almost everything that we see on screen, is a lie. Here's what happened to these top reality celebrities went after they went broke
‘The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ a reality show that was released in 1984 was about taking tours of notoriously luxurious houses. The show featured lifestyles of wealthy entertainers, athletes, socialites and business moguls. Since then many American reality shows can be described as spin-offs of the original show that defined reality TV – like ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, ‘The Hills’, ‘Chrisley Knows Best’, among others. We are endlessly fascinated with peeking behind the closed doors of the fabulously wealthy, and getting to know their professional and personal lives better. But at the end of the day, reality TV means almost everything that we see on the screen, is a lie.
So let’s take a closer look at the reality TV stars who made it big and then went broke.
Self-proclaimed “World’s first supermodel” Janice Dickinson also makes the first broke person on our list and we have good reasons for that. Dickinson claimed she invented the word ‘supermodel’ during a 1979 conversation with her manager and rightfully so as she went on to be on the cover of 37 Vogue editions. The supermodel made her way to the world of reality TV starting with ‘America's Next Top Model’, followed by her own series, ‘The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency’, then ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’, ‘I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ and more.
Dickinson hit hard times in 2012 when TMZ reported that she was evicted from the house she was renting in Los Angeles for not paying rent for three months. One year later, she declared bankruptcy, having racked up debts from unpaid plastic surgery bills and back taxes totaling around $1 million dollars, according to the New York Post. "I am upset and taking every step to pay everyone back and I feel terrible about it," Dickinson told Radar Online.
There hasn't been much news about Dickinson's current financial situation, but she's still a regular player in the reality TV game, with stints on Celebrity Big Brother and Botched in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In 2020, Dickinson was seen judging a Revolve fashion show on ABC dating competition ‘The Bachelor’ alongside Raissa Gerona and Carson Kressley.
Heidi Montag was the breakout star of the MTV real-life rich kid soap opera, 'The Hills', and her romantic relationship with cast member Spencer Pratt turned the two of them into the media sensation known as “Speidi.” NBC’s executive vice president of alternative programming, Paul Telegdy, describes them as “everything that’s wrong with America.”
In 2011, Montag had undergone costly plastic surgeries and a failed effort to become a recording artist had cost $2 million. In a Daily Beast article published that year, the noticeably chastened Montag reflected on how growing up poor had contributed to what had gone wrong. “I should have known growing up and not having any money ever that I should have kept every dollar that I had,” she said. “I thought I was investing in myself and my brand. Like Kim [Kardashian]… When she buys these clothes, she’s investing in herself. Because she is a big brand and is likable. I thought I had that potential. My ego got too big.”
Heidi married Spencer Pratt and they have a three-year-old son Gunner. Heidi and Spencer both returned for the MTV reboot of ‘The Hills: New Beginnings’ which debuted last year.
Bravo's ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ fame Sonja Morgan's financial troubles surprisingly didn't become the subject of gossip in the reality show that is otherwise known for being nosy and chatty, but that doesn't mean her checkbook didn't suffer its own attack.
In 2015, Morgan settled a nearly five-year-long bankruptcy proceeding in which she "listed her debt at $19.8 million, with her assets at more than $13.5 million," according to The Wrap. Apparently, the bankruptcy filing was fueled primarily by a $7 million judgment against Morgan over an investment she promised to a film production company, Hannibal Pictures.
Morgan eventually reached an agreement with the bankruptcy court to pay off $9 million– $7 million to Hannibal Pictures according to E! News. To finance the payment, Morgan said she had to sell off some property and was "looking forward to building up my business of fine jewelry, evening wear, sportswear and swimwear."
At 56, Morgan owns a wine company called ‘Tipsy Girl’ and runs her own fashion lifestyle brand. She also has her own fashion line, Sonja by Sonja Morgan, which was launched in 2015.
Richard Hatch won the first season of CBS’s reality series Survivor which won him a $1 million grand prize but his Machiavellian maneuvering also won him a slot on TV Guide’s 2013 list of “The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time.”
The reality star was found guilty of two counts of tax evasion and was sentenced to three years in prison in 2006. In 2009 he was released for three years under supervision, during which he was supposed to re-file the 2000 and 2001 taxes that he owed but according to The New York Daily News, the re-filling never happened, so it was back to the prison for Mr. Hatch for nine more months in 2011.
Hatch is openly gay and married Emiliano Cabral in a 2005 Nova Scotia wedding. They filed for divorce in December 2017. In 2016, he competed in ‘The Biggest Loser: Temptation Nation’ and was eliminated in the fourth week.
Better known for his contribution to the bigger screen, Stephen Baldwin, is also a bonafide reality TV star as he appeared in shows like ‘The Mole’, ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’.
In February 2017, Page Six reported that Baldwin's Rockland County, N.Y. home was foreclosed on after he defaulted on his $7,000/month mortgage payments. Previously, Baldwin got in trouble for failing to file New York state tax returns from 2008 to 2010, resulting in him being charged with a felony
In 2015, TMZ reported that Baldwin was once again dragged into court over unpaid taxes, this time owing $30,000 to the state of New York and $60,000 to the IRS.
The ultra-religious actor married his wife, Kennya Baldwin, in 1990 and has two daughters Alaia Baldwin and model and wife of Justin Bieber Hailey Bieber. He recently made headlines for endorsing president Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election while daughter Hailey is endorsing Joe Biden.