‘Bayou Billionaires’ Family History

Celebrity Q&A, People, This Week in History
on February 10, 2012

What can you tell me about Valerie, the Dowden’s oldest daughter, on Bayou Billionaires?

—Keith Andrews, Biloxi, Miss.

Valerie Wells, 42, is the mother of three children (Jessica, 20, Devin, 16, and Nikki, 10), and despite the fact that her parents are rolling in “gas money” these days, she continues to work a fulltime job at the public defender’s office in Shreveport, La.

Bayou Billionaires is a new CMT reality series about a family of (formerly) modest means, the Dowdens, that strikes it rich after the discovery that their home sits on an enormous reservoir of natural gas.

“I take care of me and the kids financially, but if I need something or if my parents think I need something, they get it for me,” says the single mom, who claims she is not interested in looking for husband No. 3. But that doesn’t mean that Wells doesn’t take advantage of all the “toys” her parents, Gerald and Kitten Dowden, purchase for themselves, such as the swimming pool and hot tub.

“The toys that they get become our toys,” she says. “The minute I get home from work in the summertime, we hit the pool and have pool parties and barbecues. In the winter time, we have hot tub parties.”

Savvy enough to keep the mineral rights to their land, the Dowdens now are the recipients of sizeable weekly checks from the gas company that pays them for the mother lode they extract from underneath their property. While it may look as if the money is “easy come, easy go,” Wells says that is not the case: “College funds have already been taken for all the kids. They wouldn’t buy a swimming pool or a hot tub if the necessities of life weren’t taken care of.”