Best known for his hit USA Network reality show, Chrisley Knows Best, real estate mogul and aspiring fashion icon, Michael Todd Chrisley, has had a career of ups and downs. Despite his $45 million bankruptcy and the dubious claims about his net worth, millions of viewers can’t stop watching his show.

Chrisley, who goes by Todd, claims to have made 95% of his multi-million dollar fortune in real estate. Yet the Georgia native has been stubbornly vague about his specific investments. The business model of his now-defunct investment firm, Chrisley Asset Management (CAM), reportedly relied on buying up foreclosed homes, then turning them around for a profit. But since the 2008 housing market collapse, it’s unclear how the firm generated its income.

Key Takeaways

  • Todd Chrisley, the flashy patriarch and star of the hit reality show, Chrisley Knows Best, is known for his materialistic lifestyle and reckless spending.
  • He is a real estate mogul whose company has now gone bust. He's had trouble with the law and experienced a $45 million bankruptcy.
  • The family has branched out their media presence via spinoff shows and podcasts.
  • Towards the end of 2019, Todd and his wife were charged with tax evasion, fraud, and other criminal dealings. They have pleaded not guilty.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

In the 2014 inaugural eight-episode season of Chrisley Knows Best, the flashy patriarch became known for his materialistic lifestyle and reckless spending. He and his wife wore designer clothes, drove fancy cars, and lived in a 30,000-square-foot Atlanta home with their children: Lindsie, Kyle, Chase, Savannah, and Grayson. Chrisley was quick to point out that he shared the same gated community as singer Usher and Major League Baseball player Chipper Jones.

In one memorable episode, Chrisley threw his son’s laptop into the swimming pool, just to teach the boy a lesson. But Chrisley stresses that his show accurately portrays his family’s life. “We’re not trying to clean it up for you and I think that’s why our show has resonated with so many millions of viewers,” Chrisley said.

The show has since become a major staple for USA - a network best known for scripted dramas like Suits and Mr. Robot. With 145 episodes across seven seasons, the show has been internationally sold to Australia, Canada, Asia, and the U.K., and has led to spinoff series, Growing Up Chrisley, featuring Chrisley's kids, Chase and Savannah, road-tripping from Nashville to Los Angeles. 

Going Bust

Amid the shows rising popularity, Chrisley found himself embroiled in two major bankruptcy cases. In addition to filing for personal bankruptcy in 2012, CAM filed for corporate bankruptcy in 2013. 

Chrisley claimed to have $4.2 million in total assets and nearly $49 million in debt, but he contradicted himself on several occasions. On camera, he boasted about his massive clothing budget, but on paper he claimed that his clothes were worth only $650. This discrepancy set off red flags with the court-appointed trustee, Jason Pettie, who subsequently requested emails, receipts, and other documents to determine if Chrisley was hiding assets. This investigation ultimately revealed that Julie Chrisley had received more than $700,000 in transfers from CAM. Furthermore, Julie, a former beauty-pageant winner, had a personal net worth of roughly $3 million; money she has reportedly used to keep the family’s finances afloat.

The bankruptcy case was settled in 2015, where Chrisley would have to pay $150,000, a small sum in comparison to the debt. Meanwhile, Chrisley moved his family from Georgia into a “more modest” $1.6 million home in Nashville, where there are no state income taxes. However, in 2019, the family decided to upgrade and purchased a $3.4 million home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Nashville. Two months after moving in, they flipped the house and put it back on the market for $4.7 million.

On Aug. 13, 2019, Todd and Julie were indicted by a federal grand jury. The charges against them include bank and wire fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy. The Chrisleys maintain their innocence and blame all wrongdoing on a rogue employee. They appeared in court, pleaded not guilty, and were released on a $100,000 bond each.

Chrisley's parents

Todd Chrisley was born to Nanny Faye and Gene Raymond Chrisley on April 6, 1969, and is one of three sons. Gene passed away in 2012 from cancer at the age of 77, while Nanny Faye makes regular appearances on her son's reality TV show. Gene was a Korean War veteran and was retired from WestPoint Stevens, which is a manufacturer of bed and bath home products. Todd Chrisley claims his wealth is self-made, but it is unclear how much wealth he may have inherited.

Failed Media Expansion Efforts

USA Network has attempted to expand the Chrisley brand—thus far, unsuccessfully. The team experimented with a Chrisley Knows Best after-show patterned after the successful AMC’s series, The Talking Dead. They also attempted to catapult Chrisley into stardom as a late-night host. But since neither project panned out, network execs are sticking solely to the main series and the one spinoff.

The show has touted several business efforts that have since fizzled out. In the first season, Chrisley’s dream of opening his own department store was a heavily featured storyline, but has yet to be mentioned following his bankruptcy proceedings.

But Chrisley and his clan have celebrated some successes. In 2016, Chrisley released the country single, “Infinite Love,” with Sara Evans, which peaked at #19 on the Billboard charts. And in 2017, Savannah Chrisley launched a fashion line. In 2018, the family launched a podcast entitled, Chrisley Confessions, which can be downloaded from the Apple Store or iHeartRadio.