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‘Fixer Upper’ Stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Controversies Through the Years

Chip and Joanna Gaines Controversies Through the Years
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines sprung into public consciousness in 2013 with the release of their HGTV reality series Fixer Upper. The twosome, who own a home renovation and design business in Waco, Texas, made a name for themselves as they bought and remodeled homes on camera.

After running for five seasons, the Gaines family expanded their empire further, bringing the series to Magnolia Network, a sister channel to HGTV, which they oversee.

Controversy surrounding Chip, 49, and Joanna, 46, didn’t take long to pile up. The pair have made headlines outside of the interior design world, from associating with an anti-LGBTQ religious leader to multiple lawsuits.

Scroll on for some of the biggest controversies the design couple has gotten into over the years.


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May 2016

BuzzFeed reported that Chip and Joanna attend Antioch Community Church, led by Pastor Jimmy Seibert. The religious leader allegedly espouses anti-LGBTQ beliefs and, according to the church’s website, believes that “marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.”

Chip and Joanna Gaines Controversies Through the Years
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Seibert claimed that BuzzFeed’s report was not true. “We are not only not anti-gay, but we are pro-helping people in their journey to find out who God is and who He has made them to be,” he told Fox News. “For us, our heart has always been to love Jesus, preach the word of God and help people in their journey.”

April 2017

According to court documents obtained by Us Weekly, John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark, cofounders and former partners of Magnolia Realty, filed a suit against Gaines, claiming he bought them out two days before Fixer Upper premiered and paid them $2,500 each for their shares.

Lewis and Clark claim that the reality star didn’t tell them that HGTV would broadcast the show nationally and “that the show prominently featured the ‘Magnolia’ brand name” before the sale. Six years later, the trio settled the lawsuit with an out-of-court agreement.

June 2018

Chip and Joanna settled with the Environmental Protection Agency after allegedly violating a rule pertaining to lead paint safety.

According to the EPA, the couple broke the Renovating, Remodeling and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) on Fixer Upper, which requires businesses to take necessary precautions when working on homes built before 1978 in order to minimize lead exposure.

Chip and Joanna Gaines Controversies Through the Years
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for TIME

The Gaines violated specific elements of the rule including failure to obtain EPA certification, not assigning a certified renovator to properties, not providing a pamphlet to homeowners, not posting warning signs and disregarding the general workplace standards.

They agreed to pay the E.P.A. a civil fine of $40,000 and created a video about the dangers of lead-based paint, The New York Times reported. Magnolia Homes agreed to spend $160,000 to decrease lead-based paint hazards in Waco homes where residents are at high risks for exposure.

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May 2021

The duo were accused of racism after they donated money to a campaign for Shannon Braun, Chip’s sister. Braun, who was running for a local school board in Texas, opposes the teaching of critical race theory in schools.

In a Facebook post, Braun said she was an advocate of “returning the focus of our curriculum and teaching to academics, rather than filling curriculum with divisive Critical Race Theory.”

June 2021

During the original run of Fixer Upper, Joanna and Chip faced criticism for never featuring any same-sex couples on the series. The backlash grew louder in 2016 after they filmed a conversation with a pastor who openly opposed LGBTQ rights.

“Sometimes I’m like, ‘Can I just make a statement?’” the Magnolia Table author said, seemingly addressing the allegations in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “The accusations that get thrown at you, like you’re a racist or you don’t like people in the LGBTQ community, that’s the stuff that really eats my lunch — because it’s so far from who we really are. That’s the stuff that keeps me up.”

November 2023

The Houston Chronicle investigated the impact Fixer Upper has had on Waco, finding that some residents are being forced out because of rising prices and tax hikes following the show’s popularity.

Chip and Joanna Gaines Controversies Through the Years
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

“I look at the kids. They had their grandmother right there next door or down the street — that’s gone. Families and friends who have known each other forever — gone,” Martie, a local, told the outlet. “That destruction of community just tears at my soul. That is absolutely the worst outcome.”

April 2024

Chip landed in some social media hot water by tweeting, “Money is boring.. everybody’s got money,” in response to the possibility of Scott Drew being poached from his gig as Baylor’s head basketball coach.

X users pushed back, calling out the tweet as tone deaf. “Man I love your show and all, and I absolutely get joking about basketball – but this tweet is not cool. The majority of people in this country worry about money because they don’t have enough of it,” one person wrote.

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