Pat And Gina Neely: The Untold Truth

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We were introduced to Pat and Gina Neely back in 2008 after the debut of their Food Network cooking show, Down Home with the Neelys. Aside from the fact that the lovely former couple could whip up a mean macaroni and cheese like it was nobody's business, viewers were enamored with the the high school sweethearts' outward displays of love. As cameras rolled, they would shower each other with sweet and tender compliments in between seasoning up batches of catfish and putting the finishing touches on their BBQ beef ribs.

As playful and affectionate as they appeared, there was turmoil simmering behind the scenes. They dropped a bombshell on their fans when they announced they were calling it quits in 2014 and filing for divorce after 19-years of marriage. So what really went wrong between a couple that appeared to be utterly infatuated with each other? Let's discuss as we look into the untold truth of the Neelys.

She tried leaving him five times

Two years after news of their divorce hit headlines, the public gained more insight into the Neelys' strained marriage. Gina gave a candid interview to OWN's Where Are They Now? (via People) and shed some light on just how broken their marriage truly was. Aside from 12 failed attempts at couples therapy, Gina said, "I tried to leave five times and I just didn't have the strength but the fifth time I held on to that. It became necessary for me to find my path." 

In the end, she gave herself a countdown to when she would officially walk away. She told the show: "I knew I wasn't happy and I said I'm definitely not going to take 50 [years old] and not be happy. So at 46 I started changing my life, I started changing my body. I realized I liked that better."

Not only did she drop Pat, but she dropped a ton of weight, too. After finding the strength to leave their marriage behind, she shed 34 pounds and completely transformed her appearance. We hate that their marriage didn't work out, but the single life looks good on Gina!

Gina wanted out long before their show aired

In front of cameras, Pat and Gina Neely appeared to have a strong and healthy relationship. But as time went on, fans found out it was all a facade. Gina revealed to People that she never even wanted to be a part of their popular cooking show. "I would cocoon myself," she said when recalling the emotions she dealt with before filming each episode. "I never wanted to be a TV chef."

She also stated she had plans to divorce Pat right before the show got picked up. But by that time, it was too late to pull the plug on their marriage. She wasn't going to turn her back on the commitment she had made to the network, despite her children — daughters Spenser (whom Gina had during a previous marriage) and Shelbi — hating the spotlight and begging her to quit the series.

It wasn't just her commitment to the show that made her stay in an unhappy marriage, though. Gina also told People she had grown up in a broken home, and she didn't want to raise her daughters the same way.

Gina hasn't heard a peep from him

Despite being married for almost two decades and raising two children together, the former couple has since cut ties with each other completely. While speaking with People four years after their divorce was finalized, Gina reminisced about their split. "I remember leaving with my purse and my duffel bag, and I was out of there," she said.

After leaving Pat in the dust, Gina revealed that he hadn't made an effort to make her hotline bling following their divorce, telling People: "I haven't spoken to Pat in four years," she said. "I don't wish him any harm, but he's never reached out to me... I guess he's well?"

Since their daughters were already older in age, she didn't feel the need to keep in contact and co-parent with her former spouse. And we can imagine it's pretty difficult to go from lovers to friends with someone you once had a strong bond with.

Pat and Gina secretly separated

As if their divorce announcement wasn't shocking enough, fans were completely floored when Gina revealed that she and Pat had separated two years prior to calling it quits. "We were trying to work on it and do some things differently, but it ended up that way," she told the Wendy Williams Show, "I did family counseling, wanted everybody to be good. We're all in a good place and at the end of the day, that's what's important to me."

Let's recap: the couple was still showing up on set to film Down Home with the Neelys, flirting in front of the cameras and pretending like everything in their marriage was A-okay. But in reality, they were facing turbulent times, and their relationship was in complete shambles. Unsurprisingly, many of their fans felt conned by the former couples' onscreen displays of affection, but we'll discuss that a bit later.

The Neelys' restaurants took a hit

The Neelys had opened up several BBQ eateries, and they also had co-penned numerous cookbooks full of their family recipes. During her appearance on the Wendy Williams Show, Gina made it clear that although their marriage was done-zo, their joint business ventures would proceed as usual. "Business is business. Let's be clear about that!" she said in response to the future of their endeavors. 

But it turned out that Gina and Pat wouldn't navigate the murky waters of running businesses as exes for much longer. NY Eater reported in October 2015 that their Neely's Barbecue Parlor on New York's East Side, which initially opened in 2011, had closed its doors. The announcement came just four years after a pair of their Tennessee restaurants had also shuttered.

T\While business is business, their restaurants were also clearly a labor of love. Perhaps closing their doors was the best move for the former spouses in the long run. 

Pat and Gina were more like business partners

They heated up our screens by displaying major PDA every time producers yelled "action!" However, the former couple was growing further and further apart from one another, season after season. "It didn't feel like a marriage anymore," Gina told People

As the old saying goes, you shouldn't mix business with pleasure, and that's exactly what happened with Pat and Gina. Gina explained: "He became my business partner, whereas I needed a husband." 

The problems in their marriage were exacerbated when Pat demanded more togetherness, but she felt like they were spending entirely too much time together. She wanted more space away from him to "have a stronger feeling of love: for him." So, clearly, they weren't even on the same page.

"I remember specifically saying to him, 'What more do you want from me? I don't know what else I can do? I give you all my time, everything,'" she said. "I was done."

Gina didn't heed warnings

Even though their marriage was apparently doomed long before the cameras on their cooking show started rolling, perhaps Pat and Gina would've been able to salvage their relationship if they'd never taken the plunge to become business partners.

Gina spoke to a blog in 2008 about how she made the switch from working in the corporate world to joining Pat in the kitchen. "[I couldn't] even go to the schools and be in the PTSA, so we decided that I would quit my job and work in Pat's family business so I could have more flexibility." she said.

But the people closest to her thought she was mistaking a terrible mistake: "And people said 'Girl, don't work with your husband, don't do it!'"

At the time of that interview, Pat and Gina were still married, and she gave the impression that working alongside him was a fun and pleasurable experience. "I took a chance and kept the faith that everything would be OK and it's been wonderful for my daughters, for my family, and my marriage. So, a plus all around," she said. 

Sounds like she jinxed herself.

Was it all fake?

When Pat and Gina Neely's marriage came crashing down, no one felt more duped than their loyal fans. The interviews, public appearances, and the loving scenes from their cooking show gave the impression that all was well in the Neely household. But as soon as their divorce was announced, the jig was up, and loyal viewers wanted answers.

Judging by the timeline of when Gina claimed they were experiencing relationship woes, the former spouses were still on a loved-up press tour. Pat told Forbes in 2012: "Gina gave me something I truly needed:  balance. Marriage is like a have to keep it balanced. You both bring stuff to the table. Neither is more blessed or greater than the other."

During that same interview, Gina confirmed his sentiments by saying, "When you say 'I do' you're saying 'I'll work...You have to work at your marriage every day. If you don't want to work every day, you need to abstain."

So you can just imagine how betrayed their fans felt when TMZ reported that Pat and Gina "hated each other for years," and they struggled to pretend "their marriage was fine."

Their private life was their business, so they had no obligation to be forthcoming about what was truly going on behind closed doors. However, can you really blame their fans for feeling like everything on Down Home with the Neelys was completely false?

Gina went to Rome to find love

With two failed marriages underneath her belt, you probably wouldn't be too shocked if Gina swore off dating and relationships for good. But the hopeless romantic isn't quite ready to give up just yet. She returned to reality TV in 2018 when she was cast in the Bravo TV program, To Rome for Love. Gina and four other African-American women were coached by expert Diann Valentine as they embarked on an overseas journey to find amore and the Italian men of their dreams.  

"I want to find love again, love being in love," Gina gushed to People. "I want to get married again. I love being married. I'm not against marriage and I'm not against love."

Is a wedding underneath a stunning Roman sunset in the cards for Gina? We sure hope so, but we'll have to wait and see how things play out. 

Pat became a game show host

His passion was rooted in whipping up Southern comfort meals and desserts that had been passed down from generation to generation. However, following his split from his wife, Pat Neely took his career in a completely different direction.

He still had plans to remain on TV, but this time around, the chef was out of the kitchen and hosting a game show, according to Rolling Out. The series, Save to Win, featured Pat playing game show host as savvy shoppers competed to win an array of prizes and cold hard cash. "I am super excited to branch out from just being a celebrity chef and hosting a cooking show," he said. "I decided to spread my wings a little bit."

Considering that many of his fans were unsure whether he'd have a career in television without having his vivacious and charming ex-wife by his side, getting the hosting gig definitely seems to have been a smart move for Pat.