By Melissa Locker
April 28, 2017
Instagram @magnolia

Before Chip Gaines was the star of your favorite HGTV show Fixer Upper he ran Magnolia Realty with a few partners. He allegedly bought their shares in the company two days before announcing that he was going to be a reality TV star. Now his former partners feel like they were duped and are demanding more than $1 million and their ownership stakes back —or compensation for what their stakes would be worth now.

John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark filed suit in McLennan County in Texas, claiming that Gaines convinced them to sell their ownership stakes in Magnolia Realty for just $2,500 apiece, claiming that the company was "less than worthless,” even though he had just shot the pilot for Fixer Upper, according to local news outlet KARE 11. They believe that Gaines made his offer knowing full well that the company would soon be worth a lot more thanks to the attention of the national television show. In his defense, though, Gaines probably had no idea that Fixer Upper would become such a massive hit.

While this lawsuit is certainly about money and sour grapes, it also sounds like it’s about hurt feelings and betrayal. In their court filings, Lewis and Clark allege that Gaines knew “Fixer Upper had been fast-tracked for a one-hour premier on HGTV,” and that the show would be “radically changing their lives and business enterprises.” They believe that Gaines went behind the backs of his longtime friends so that “he alone would profit from Magnolia Realty's association with Fixer Upper," the lawsuit stated, according to KARE. Lewis and Clark sold their stakes to Gaines on May 6, 2013 and two days later, on May 8, the HGTV show was announced.

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For his part, Gaines’s attorney thinks the lawsuit is just an attempt to profit from the incredible success that Chip and Joanna Gaines have had with Fixer Upper. In a statement, their lawyer said, "We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines.”

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