Jill Duggar Dillard is speaking out about how she and her siblings were allegedly exploited by their father, Jim Bob Duggar, while starring on the reality series “19 Kids and Counting.”
The 32-year-old television personality and her husband, Derick Dillard, appeared in the new docuseries “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets,” which premiered June 2 on Amazon Prime Video. “Shiny Happy People” focuses on the family at the center of the hit TLC show, which ran for 10 seasons over seven years from 2008 to 2015.
Among the many shocking revelations that emerged from the four-part docuseries were Jill and Derick’s claims that they were never financially compensated for their participation in “19 Kids and Counting” and its spinoff show, “Counting On.”
“I never received any payout,” Jill said. “No check, no cash, no nothing. For seven and a half years of my adult life, I was never paid.”
“19 Kids and Counting” was a ratings juggernaut for TLC until the show was canceled after allegations surfaced in May 2015 that the oldest Duggar son, Josh, had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter when he was 12. In 2021, Josh was convicted of possessing child pornography and sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison.
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After the original series’ cancellation, TLC launched “Counting On,” which followed the lives of the Duggar children and their families as well as parents Jim Bob and Michelle. Josh was not included in the show though his wife, Anna, and six children were featured.
According to People magazine, Jim Bob was the primary payee throughout the runs of both shows and earned an estimated $25,000 to $45,000 paycheck per episode.
In “Shiny Happy People,” Jill and Derick alleged that they did not receive any share of the money that was paid to Jim Bob during their time on “19 Kids and Counting” and “Counting On.”
Jill was 17 when “19 Kids and Counting” debuted in September 2008. Derick and Jim Bob became prayer partners in 2013, and the Duggar family patriarch later introduced his future son-in-law to Jill. Jim Bob and Jill later traveled to Nepal to visit Derick while he was doing mission work in Kathmandu.
Derick and Jill officially began courting during the trip, which was featured on the eighth season of “19 Kids and Counting.”
On June 21, 2014, the couple married in a televised wedding that aired on the show in October of that year. The couple’s wedding episode brought in a then-record 4.4 million viewers and became TLC’s most-watched telecast in four years.
In “Shiny Happy People,” Jill claimed she was deceived by Jim Bob into signing a contract that extended her commitment to TLC on the day before her wedding.
“I just saw the signature page,” she said. “It was like, on the end of the kitchen table, like, ‘Hey, I just need you guys to sign these.’ Like, everyone was signing them. We were literally running through the kitchen, and it was like, whoever you could grab on the way through. I didn’t know what it was for.”
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When asked who had her sign the contract, Jill replied, “My dad.”
Derick said, “What we found out later was that it was a commitment of your life for the next five years to the show.”
“They had their negotiations, they had their business meetings,” Jill said. “It just wasn’t with us.”
Less than two months after tying the knot, Jill and Derick announced that they were expecting their first child.
In the docuseries, Jill recalled that she and Derick were initially opposed to filming her delivery for the show. TLC had previously filmed Michelle and Anna giving birth, and Jill recalled that they expected to film her birth as well. Episodes that featured weddings and births typically brought in some of the series’ highest ratings.
Derick and Jill said the production company approached them a few weeks before Jill gave birth about filming the delivery. Jill said the producers offered to only have one camera operator in the hospital room.
“And I was like, ‘Well, actually, we don’t want you guys there at all,'” Jill said, noting that they were shocked at the couple’s refusal.
“You didn’t want to go through what Anna went through,” Derick said.
“I knew for sure, I was like, ‘Nobody’s in my delivery room, like nobody. And nobody’s there for the labor watching me. Like, I don’t want any of that,'” Jill said.
“We basically lost, and they’re going to get what they want,” Derick said.
The couple said the production company gave them cameras and tripods so that they could shoot footage for the show themselves.
“We did diary cams,” Jill said. “We did a lot of work. So they still got, you know, the footage.”
After the birth of Jill’s son, Israel, she said the couple asked TLC just to pay them enough to cover the out-of-pocket costs of their insurance for Israel’s birth.
“They said they pay the family. Pay the family means we don’t get anything at that point,” Derick recalled before saying, “They said, ‘Well, we paid your dad. So,take it up with him.’”
In 2016, Jill and Derick were working as missionaries in El Salvador. A TLC crew traveled to the Central American country to film them for the spinoff show, which was initially called “Jill and Jessa: Counting On.”
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The couple claimed TLC producers began to press them to return to the United States for a shoot. Jill and Derick said they refused as they wanted to honor their commitment. They recalled that they had previously told the producers they would be in El Salvador for 10 months.
“Now it’s a matter of principle,” Jill explained. “Like we’re going to be here. That was like the first time that we really put our foot down and said, ‘No.’ I’ve never said no to my family before and just been like, ‘No, no, no. We cannot do what you’re asking us to do.’ And it was one of those, like, aha moments for us that basically they’re like, ‘Well, you have to.’”
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She continued, “My dad sends us the signature page along with just the obligation section of the contract. I was like, ‘Somebody forged my signature, I’m sure of it.’ And then I look at it like, that is my signature. And that’s when we realized that I had signed this the day before we got married. And then I’m like, ‘Oh, I remember that. That’s not what I thought I was signing.'”
“We never gave our word that we’re generally going to be committed to anything,” Derick said. “This was fraud.”
The pair claimed they were told by Jim Bob’s manager, Chad Gallagher, that he would have to be present for any discussions with TLC. Jill said that Gallagher told them, “The contract is not with you. It’s through your dad, and I’m his representative. So, I have to be involved in these conversations.”
“And we were not able to talk to TLC,” Derick noted.
“Honestly, they probably would think if you got a problem with it, you speak up,” Jill said. “But it’s not the boat that I was in.”
“Shiny Happy People” also featured reports that Jill and Derick relied on food banks to support their family while appearing on “Counting On.”
According to Jill and Derick, Jim Bob later offered to pay the older Duggar children a lump sum of money for their participation on the show.
“The amount that he ended up paying in a lump sum to each person, I don’t think it would be a coincidence that it would be very close to what minimum wage would be up to 18,” Derick said.
Jill added, “But in order to receive that, you had to sign another deal with my dad, his production company, Mad Family Inc. It would be like forever. We were automatically like, ‘We’re done.'”
“We found out on social media that our relationship – if we ever had a relationship with TLC – came to an end at that time,” Derick said.
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Jill and Derick announced they were leaving “Counting On” in 2017.
In October 2020, the couple told People magazine that they were able to recoup some money from Jim Bob when they hired a lawyer after quitting the show.
“That’s when we got an attorney involved and finally recovered some of the money,” she told the outlet. “It was a process.”
“It probably ended up being a little more than minimum wage,” Derick said in a video that the couple shared to their official Dillard Family YouTube page, per People.
“But we were able to recover at least something,” he added.
In “Shiny Happy People,” Jill and Derick shed some light on where their relations with Jim Bob, Michelle and other members of the Duggar family stand now.
“My dad does control a lot of things within the family,” Jill said. “Family relationships were already kind of rocky.”
She continued, “I reached out to TLC to ask for all the contracts that I had been involved in. My parents had signed for a bunch of the kids who were no longer minors, including myself. I became an adult in 2009. As the kids aged to adulthood, they’re still listed as minors and nobody fixed that.”
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The docuseries featured shots of a contract dated May 18, 2012, in which Michelle had apparently signed on behalf of Jill and several of her siblings, who were listed as “minor children.”
“Everything within the family dynamic has shifted and not for the better,” Jill said.
“We’re very much on the outside with the family,” Derick added.
Representatives for TLC did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Jim Bob and Michelle responded to the docuseries in a statement that they shared on their website.
“The recent ‘documentary’ that talks about our family is sad because in it we see the media and those with ill intentions hurting people we love,” they wrote. “Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format. This ‘documentary’ paints so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days.”
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The statement continued, “We have always believed that the best chance to repair damaged relationships, or to reconcile differences, is through love in a private setting. We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one.”
“Through both the triumphs and the trials we have clung to our faith all the more and discovered that through the love and grace of Jesus, we find strength, comfort, and purpose.”