There was recently some exciting drama involving the cast of reality show Duck Dynasty. It transpired that Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, had a daughter he didn’t know about. Considering the image Phil presented on the show, that revelation might have been a shock to some viewers. And the family revealed all on a podcast.
In May 2020 Phil and his four children – Willie, Jep, Jase and Al – appeared together on Phil’s Unashamed podcast. There, the family talked for the first time about the new relative who’s suddenly come into their lives. She’s an adult woman, the result of an affair Phil had more than four decades ago.
That was shocking in itself considering Phil’s stated attitude to affairs, among other issues. For example, in 2013 he was interviewed for GQ magazine and said, “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”
The interviewer then brought up an incident from Phil’s past, a time when the TV star assaulted a married couple who were proprietors of a bar. The journalist asked if Phil “ever repented for that, as he wants America to repent.” Phil shook his head at that, GQ reported, and said, “I didn’t dredge anything back up. I just put it behind me.”
So, over the years Phil has been painting a very distinct picture of the kind of person he is. His ghostwritten autobiography states that he devoted most of his younger years to cheating on his wife Kay and taking drugs. But, eventually, after throwing his wife and sons out of their home, he found God and decided to shape up.
It seems, however, that Phil may for many years have failed to practice what he preaches. Although the duck hunter told GQ magazine that “we never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell – that’s the Almighty’s job,” he’s nonetheless also had some very judgmental thoughts about gay people, including calling homosexuality a “sin.”
After the GQ interview came out, the network that hosted Duck Dynasty suspended Phil. A&E released a statement saying, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty… The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
Phil’s family have, however, seemingly forgiven him for his past behavior towards them. His wife Kay is still married to him, and he remains close to his adult sons. Indeed, it was one of these sons, 54-year-old Al, who was centrally involved in the chain of events that led to the new member of the family being revealed.
In the Unashamed discussion, Al said that he had unexpectedly been sent a letter by Phyllis, a 45-year-old lady from Missouri. “Basically, it was from a woman who said that by a DNA search, she thinks that dad might be her dad,” Al stated. “Once we get into that and start looking at it a little more deeply, I’m like, ‘Oh woah, woah… there might be something to this.’”
Jase had received a similar letter as well. He stated, “We both concluded, this is not one of those frivolous things we’ve got.” Al added, “I started thinking, there’s a 45-year-old woman out there who doesn’t know who her dad is, and she’s looking. And I thought, even if it’s not dad, she needs to know it’s not dad.”
All of the Robertson sons are in fact dads themselves. Willie has six children, Jep has five, Jase has three, and oldest son Alan is already a grandfather six times over via his two daughters. It’s a big family, and a lot of their stories have been shown on Duck Dynasty and its spinoffs.
So, another Robertson would only add to the dynasty. Al eventually went to his mom and dad and showed them the letter. Reportedly, he’d previously kept it private out of fear that it could turn out to be a hoax. Phil consequently decided to take a DNA test, and the results were positive. There was a 99.9 percent crossover between the genetic make-up of Phil and Phyllis.
Phil was apparently excited to meet his daughter, even though she’d been conceived at a time when he was cheating on his wife. On the Unashamed podcast, Phil paraphrased the Bible regarding his actions, saying, “We know that in all things – in all things – even sin, God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.”
Indeed, Phil claimed that the whole scenario was “a pretty cool explanation of redemption, reconciliation, love.” He added, “As it turns out, 45 years, you have a daughter that you don’t know about. And she has a father she doesn’t know about; 45 years, that doesn’t sound like very long but, you say that’s a while. So, finally, after all those years, we come together.”
Moreover, all the other Robertsons reacted positively to having a new member in their midst. Sadie Robertson, Phil’s granddaughter, wrote “the bigger the better” on her Instagram Stories, for example. And Willie’s wife Korie added, “We have a new sister! We found out not long ago that Phil has a daughter, and Willie and his brothers have a sister. It was as much a surprise to all of us as it probably is to you, but life is full of surprises, and this one is especially sweet!”
“Our annual family beach pics were even crazier, and the Robertson men are now officially outnumbered so we’re feeling pretty good right about now, ha!” Korie continued. “Welcome to the fam, Phyllis; I promise it’s never boring.” And Willie himself added, “So good finding my long lost sister. Can’t wait to share life with y’all’s family. Welcome to the nuttiest family around.”
Jase’s wife Missy wrote a longer post, according to People. “‘DNA results are back, and… I have a sister.’ Words I will never forget my husband say as he stepped back in beside me at a worship conference just 3 short months ago,” she stated. “The next few moments were emotional as we continued to praise and worship an amazing Father and Savior. The last few weeks have been even more amazing as we have been blessed to spend time with our new family members.”
Furthermore, on the next episode of Unashamed, Phyllis was the guest of honor. Before it was released, Phil put out a statement to USA Today claiming, “I’ve been very open about my past. It’s not something I’m proud of. I was in a dark place, but God brought me to the light.”
Phil added, “It is amazing to see what beauty God can bring out of our messes. He makes wonderful things out of the ashes. My daughter is a living testimony of that.” And it transpired in the podcast that Phyllis was also apparently a Christian. She stated, “God’s hand has been on my life all of my life.”
During the episode, which was broadcast in late May 2020, Phyllis talked about the journey she’d been on. Her family had undergone some DNA analysis, she said, and during that process Phyllis found out that she and her siblings have a different dad. That put Phyllis on the path to ascertaining who her biological father was.
“I wanted it to answer some questions, in a way,” the new Robertson said of her quest. “It’s like I knew always growing up something was different. I was different. Physically different, some personality differences, just the way I approached life and did things.” So, she had a lot of work to do.
Phyllis explained that she’d done “a little digging, internet searches, looking through the site, and put[ting] together a family tree, so to speak.” Her partner had assisted as well, she added. Then, eventually, she was able to look at the evidence and deduce that Phil Robertson the reality star might well be her father.
Eventually, Phyllis decided to go to the Robertsons’ church and deliver the aforementioned letter. When she arrived there, she saw that Phil was giving a sermon, so she hung around and listened. “I thought, ‘How cool is it that the first time I’m seeing my dad, he’s preaching the gospel?’” she said on the podcast.
Phyllis spoke to her brothers first and then eventually prepared to meet her father face-to-face for the first time. She said on the show, “Everybody had warned me that he’s not very nurturing and be prepared.” But then to Phil himself, she added, “I found you to be very nurturing. He grabbed me by the hands.”
Phil stated that as soon as he met his daughter, “I put my hands on her face [and looked] in her eyes.” And he noticed an interesting connection between them as well. On the show, he said to her, “What’s interesting is that mother named you, not telling you who your father is, but named you Phyllis – very weird.”
At that point Jase joked, “This is turning into a Lifetime movie here.” And then Phil said of his daughter, “I did tell her pretty quickly, ‘Girl, you’re the best thing that ever came out of my past.’ Up until she showed up, I had nothing good to say about what happened before I repented.”
Kay pointed out that she had stood by Phil during that time. She said, “Everybody I knew and every member of my family and your family, except your mom and dad, said, ‘You’re an idiot to stay with him. You’re gonna be like a welcome mat.’” Only her grandmother told her she should stick around.
Phyllis and Kay had nothing but good things to say about each other, even though Phyllis was proof the older woman had been cheated on. Phyllis stated that she hadn’t wanted to cause Kay distress by coming forward. And on the podcast, she referred to Kay as a “special mom” and told her she was “a gracious, kind, godly woman.”
For Phyllis, meeting her family was “just like puzzle pieces clicking into place.” She added, “It was like I’ve always known you, in a way.” And Phil was seemingly just as happy about these developments, telling Phyllis, “All I can tell you is, I’m glad you found me. I’m glad I found you. All I have to say is: welcome aboard.”
At the end of the show, the family also revealed that Phyllis and her family – spouse Tony Thomas and some children who haven’t been named by the media – would shortly be relocating to Louisiana in order to be closer to Phil and his clan. Currently, Phyllis works as a nurse in Springfield, Missouri.
Fans of the Duck Dynasty reality show commented on the video once it was uploaded to YouTube. One of them wrote, “Sending a shout out to Miss Kay for being graceful about this. Many women, or men if it was the other way around, would not have been so accepting or forgiving.”
Another viewer stated, “The same thing happened to me as it did to Phyllis. I did an Ancestry test and found out that the father I grew up with was not my biological father after 30 years. I reached out to my biological father and he accepted me and my kids whole heartedly. So happy Phyllis found her family.”
Then, on June 18, 2020, Al Robertson did an interview with Fox News and told the story from his point of view. He explained that he and Jase had received messages from Phyllis simultaneously. Al stated, “Actually, when he saw me reading it, he was like, ‘Oh, I got a letter that looks like that.’ We literally discovered it the same day. It was kind of a cosmic, big picture thing going on here.”
Al added that since talking about Phyllis, several people had come forward to him saying they’d also discovered long-lost family members. He explained, “Because of the emergence now of DNA – with these different ways that people can check their ancestry and all that – this is happening a lot around the country.”
“Mostly what we’ve received have been people that have had similar experiences, but maybe not good results, because obviously it can go sideways,” Al continued. “In our case, we were determined that it would be positive no matter what. It wasn’t really hard work for it to happen. We just had an instant connection and we were thrilled that she found us and we found her.”
Al also said that the family had come in for criticism from some quarters as a result of these developments. “A few people said, ‘This guy is a hypocrite,’ or ‘I knew that they were too good to be true,’” he admitted. “But they didn’t really read the story or listen to the podcast, because they would have known that this was dad’s previous life. And he has said for 45 years that he was not a good person during this period of time.”
“I realized that my parents were really going through a terrible time in their marriage,” Al added. “Our family was just totally a mess. Dad was off and we didn’t really see him much. But Mom, she wasn’t drinking and drugging and living this lifestyle, so she remembered a lot more about details, about the situation.”
Al alleged that although Phyllis had been conceived during the philandering period of his father’s life, by the time she came into the world Phil had become a Christian. According to Al, “The same year that she was born, he was reborn, in the sense that he became a different person, which Phyllis says gives her a lot of peace of mind even now, knowing that he changed.”
In a separate interview with Fox News, released the following day, Al spoke once more about the family very publically finding a long-lost sister. He said, “People who watched the [Unashamed] show have kind of been looking for reconnection with the family, and so it’s a way for them to do that.”
Al added, “We’re just kind of built-in to try to serve people and make connections with people.” But, of course, the story isn’t quite over yet. Although it can probably be assumed that all the key players in it know the identity of Phyllis’s mother, she hasn’t actually come forward yet. And if she does, she might have some tales of her own to tell.