Controversial Things Everyone Ignores About Chip And Joanna Gaines

Joanna and Chip Gaines are known for a lot of things and, after 10 years of HGTV fame, it's safe to say they have become household names. They may be best known for their bustling Magnolia empire, comprised of Magnolia Network; the Magnolia Magazine; a line with Target called Hearth & Hand with Magnolia; and of course, the Magnolia Market at the Silos, which is a Waco tourist destination for all things Magnolia, from a coffee shop to a paper store to an accessories shop. 

And the business ventures listed above aren't even half of the businesses the Gaineses have owned over the years. Aside from their business empire, the Gaines family is also known for their distinctive farmhouse-chic renovations and their focus on family and community.

But under all the shiplap and eclectic farmhouse décor, the Gaines family may have a few things they'd prefer to keep under wraps. Below, we'll discuss controversial things everyone ignores about Chip and Joanna Gaines.

They attend a church with anti-LGBTQIA views

It's no surprise that the Gaineses are a religious couple; they have shared their Christian beliefs with the media on several occasions. Their beliefs were never really a big deal until 2016, when Kate Aurthur wrote an article for BuzzFeed about the church the Gaineses go to, Antioch Community Church. Their pastor at the church, Jimmy Seibert, referred to Joanna and Chip as his "dear friends" in one video — which put the couple in hot water when it came out that Seibert is against same-sex marriage and supports conversion therapy.

And sure, no one who knows anything about the Gaineses would expect them to be loud and proud LGBTQIA allies, but the fact that they go to a church and are evidently good friends with a pastor who preaches explicitly anti-LGBTQIA sermons suggests the Gaineses may hold similar views. 

After all, the pair had pretty weak responses to the backlash around their beliefs: Chip wrote in a blog post, "Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It's not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith." Joanna also offered a vague and indirect response to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that not liking people in the LGBTQIA community is "so far from who we really are." 

The EPA fined them for inadequate handling of lead paint in their renovations

Chip and Joanna may not be the progressive and supportive HGTV stars we want them to be (judging by the info in the previous slide) but no one can deny that the couple knows how to do a darn good renovation ... Except for the fact that they were actually fined $40,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to properly represent the dangers of lead paint on their shows. 

According to the EPA, Chip and Joanna weren't thorough enough on TV in their protection from lead paint; they didn't cover floors and vents with plastic to prevent lead paint chips from falling in these areas, and they also did not appear to take measures to minimize their risk to lead paint exposure (per House Beautiful). 

This lead paint situation was a pretty short-lived controversy since the Gaineses were prompt to correct their mistake. They paid the $40,000 fine without question, talked about the dangers of lead paint in an episode of "Fixer Upper," and created a stand-alone video about lead paint safety.

Their parenting skills came into question

Chip and Joanna Gaines are family people. They have five children, and in many interviews Chip and Joanna speak candidly about how their family is their number-one priority. However, one has to wonder just how much time they have for family when they're running nearly a dozen different businesses. In 2018, writer Daryl Austin wrote for USA Today, "They want to be seen as a couple that can do it all while at the same time making their family their top priority." Austin pointed out that this isn't possible for most people.

The writer also implied that Joanna and Chip prioritize making money over their children, writing, "All providing parents know they have to maintain a dependable source of income, but most of us are content with that and don't take on unnecessary additional commitments. I wonder at what point it stopped being about providing for their family and started being about Chip and Joanna?"

Chip took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to respond to Austin's critical article, saying, "I don't know Daryl, & he clearly doesn't know me. But for the record: If there is ever a need w/ my family (1st), I'll shut this circus down so fast it will make your head spin."

The Target partnership scandal

In summer 2023, Target released a collection of merchandise for Pride Month, including clothing and accessories that represented pride for the LGBTQIA+ community. While this isn't the first time Target has sold merchandise in support of the LGBTQIA community, it is the first time they have offered "tuck-friendly" swimwear suited for various gender expressions. Right-wing conservative groups apparently believed this was a step too far and called for a Target boycott in response.

Joanna Gaines has long had a popular line of merchandise for sale at Target, Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, and since some fans of Chip and Joanna see them as Christian influencers, there was a bit of an uproar that the Gaineses have continued selling their merchandise at a retailer that also sells Pride merch. 

Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy commented on the situation, stating, "No one doubts that Chip and Joanne are good people, kind, moral, and aligned with American values. But if I had a line at a company and my name was on it and that brand partnered with a trans-Satanist that makes tuck 'em bikinis for kids, I would feel compelled to speak up" (via Newsweek). Target offered rainbow clothing for children, but their "tuck-friendly" swimwear was sold only in adult sizes, per The Associated Press. The Gaineses have not publicly commented on the controversy.

That one time Chip's former business partners sued him

Right before "Fixer Upper" took off, Chip apparently bought out his partners in Magnolia Real Estate Company. The big problem with this is that Chip didn't tell his former partners that he signed a contract with HGTV — and that, most likely, business for the real estate company was about to boom. This led to Chip's former business partner, Richard Clark, filing a $1 million lawsuit against Chip, claiming Chip defrauded him and another business partner, per People.

According to John Lewis, a former friend of Chip's and former partner in Magnolia Real Estate Company, once Chip got famous, he left everyone in the dust. "There was a sense of betrayal and frustration," John told People. "Once I had sold him my interest in the company and his show began to flourish, I never heard from him again." 

Chip dismissed these claims, and the lawsuit ultimately didn't go anywhere — though Chip was required to give a deposition in 2019 — but his former friends are likely still hurting from the situation. "I knew and understood at that point that he had gotten all he could out of our relationship and was done with it," Lewis told People. "[It] was already at that point of realization that our relationship was essentially over that I discovered that he had defrauded me and Rick."

Homeowners who worked with Magnolia Realty felt deceived

One couple, Ken and Kelly Downs, who were featured on Season 3 of "Fixer Upper," had the unfortunate experience of having a drunk driver crash into their car in 2017, per the Waco-Herald Tribune. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the experience did lead to the Downses speaking up about their negative experience living in a "Fixer Upper" house.

"It's like the Wild West here," Kelly said, explaining that local people have harassed her and her husband on the grounds that "Fixer Upper" properties have caused taxes to rise. "We have been intimidated and harassed. People have complained about their taxes going up because we moved here. Store owners have complained about taxes."

Having had a drunk driver crash into their home only added to the problems the couple has experienced since working with Magnolia Realty and being part of "Fixer Upper." Ultimately, the Downses feel disappointed and betrayed. "We've lived here a year and a half and we feel deceived by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty," Kelly said.

When they donated to an anti-critical race theory political campaign

At this point, most people who know and love the Gaineses do not expect them to be progressive politically or socially. But no one necessarily expected them to be against critical race theory, either.

However, back in 2021, Chip and Joanna donated $1,000 to Chip's sister, Shannon Braun, and her school board campaign. Shannon wants to provide children "the education they deserve," per her website, but part of providing kids with a good education means, to Shannon, a ban on teaching critical race theory.

Critical race theory is an academic approach that suggests racism is systemic, and it also helps contextualize the ways American policy has been shaped by racism. Individuals who do not want this theory taught in schools are preventing children from understanding the social inequality they may experience, according to Education Week. Joanna and Chip said they donated to the campaign before they knew Shannon was against critical race theory, and later Joanna told The Hollywood Reporter that it "keeps her up" that people think she's racist. If Joanna and Chip aren't anti-critical race theory, it may be time to put their money where their mouths are.

Many Wacoans believe the Gaineses have done more harm than good for the community

Despite the Gaineses' emphasis on community, people who live in Waco seem to be unhappy with the changes that the family's renovations — and Magnolia tourist attractions — have brought about. On Reddit, several people have expressed their grievances. 

One Redditor shared that the Gaineses "literally ruined our community. Taxes skyrocketed and so did the housing market. They did nothing for the common Wacoan." Others who have had experiences with the Gaines family question the quality of their renovations. One Redditor wrote, "They're a scam. My husband is a framing carpenter and appalled by things he's seen them do on the show. My aunt was actually on the show and the house was left all kinds of f***** up once they were done." 

Aside from the questionable renovation practices, other Wacoans shared that Chip and Joanna aren't necessarily the friendliest people. "I've heard they can be 'sharp' people with whom to do business. Not anything illegal, but they can be aggressive and cutthroat in their dealings," one Redditor noted.

One of the shows on Magnolia Network ruined peoples' homes

When Chip and Joanna Gaines announced they were working with Discovery to create Magnolia Network, it almost didn't come as a surprise — after all, the Gaineses have continually expanded their business from realty to an entire empire. However, what was surprising was that one of the shows on their network, "Home Work," ended up causing quite a stir, and was eventually pulled from the network altogether.

"Home Work" hosts Andy and Candis Meredith were slated to be the new Joanna and Chip, according to Decider. Their show would focus on the Utah couple's work renovating their school-turned-home, as well as their help rehabbing houses in their community. But the hosts reportedly damaged peoples' homes during renovations and also went way over budget — like, tens of thousands of dollars over budget. Aubry Bennion, a Utah homeowner who was on "Home Work," shared her experience on Instagram, explaining that the Merediths left work incomplete for months and even built a deck over an existing sprinkler system.

According to Insider, the Merediths denied any wrongdoing, but Magnolia Network said they would be investigating the claims. It seems that no reparations were ever made to Bennion; she wrote on Instagram, "It's disappointing and heartbreaking. I was Magnolia's most loyal supporter but now find myself a victim of their growth and greed."