Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last seven-ish years, you know exactly who Chip Gaines is. The house-flipper-turned-entrepreneur-turned-network executive has been on people’s radars since his early days on HGTV, capturing the hearts of viewers everywhere due to his fun-loving personality and hilarious stunts. Husband of designer extraordinaire Joanna Gaines, Chip served as her resident demolition guy, and he would often (with the help of sidekick, Shorty) turn Jo’s home designs into realities. With time, the couple’s hit HGTV show, "Fixer Upper," launched their careers in a way that even they probably didn’t expect. Now the unofficial king and queen of Waco, Texas, the couple have taken the real estate, business, home flipping, and entertainment industries by storm.
But how did Chip get his start in life, who inspired him to get into the housing market, and where did he meet Jo? What motivated him to go to Baylor University, and did he see himself going into the renovation business? Was fame ever something he expected for his life? There are a ton of questions and, luckily for you, we have all the answers. Read all about the stunning transformation of Chip Gaines.
Chip Gaines was born in New Mexico, sourcing inspiration from his grandfather
If you think of Chip Gaines, you probably think of Texas. He and his wife, Joanna Gaines, have made their town of Waco, Texas a must-see tourist destination and, naturally, many of us assume that he was born and raised in the Lone Star State. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that Chip was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Chip moved to Dallas, Texas as a kid and was raised in the area so, while he wasn’t born in the great state of Texas, it is certainly a part of his childhood.
As noted in the book "The Magnolia Story," by Chip and Jo, Chip spent a good deal of time growing up at his grandfather’s ranch. Located in North Texas, the ranch served a great purpose to Chip, and he "became a true cowboy at heart" as a result. While he did go on to have a fruitful academic life (more on that later), Chip was described in the book as the boy who often "preferred digging ditches" to cracking open a textbook. To put it bluntly, he "was made for hard labor," and any episode of "Fixer Upper" will support that.
Chip Gaines had ambitions to be a baseball player
When you ask any little kid what they want to be when they grow up, a lot of the answers are universal — a firefighter, a ballet dancer, a baseball player, an astronaut — boy, girl, non-binary, you name it; so many of us have the same heroes when we’re little. For Chip Gaines, he had aspirations to become a baseball player, and actually got much further in the sport than you might know.
As noted by Baylor University’s alumni magazine, Gaines was the second baseman for his high school’s team, and then was recruited to play ball at North Lake Junior College. He was then scouted by Baylor’s then-baseball coach, Mickey Sullivan, and Gaines’ baseball career at the Texas university was sealed. "I transferred my sophomore year to Baylor. My first real introduction to Baylor was basically from a baseball standpoint," Gaines shared. But, with Sullivan’s retirement also came Gaines’ exit from the sport; however, it was a reality that he seems pretty okay with. "I was not destined to be the next great baseball player, but I was destined to enjoy Baylor University and the dear friends that I met there," he said.
The home flipper became a fan of Baylor University when he was in middle school
You only had to watch one episode of "Fixer Upper" to know that Chip and Joanna Gaines both attended Baylor University. Located in Waco, Texas, the university became a cornerstone of the show. But Chip was a Baylor fan way back in the day, and admitted to the school’s alumni magazine that he became a supporter of the university when he was in middle school. Specifically, he started wearing Baylor gear — i.e. the baseball cap — and there was really no clear-cut reason as to why.
"I grew up, for no logical reason, as a Baylor fan," Chip said, even though he didn’t grow up near the university. "I’ve got pictures of me around junior-high age — all of a sudden I started wearing Baylor caps. Somehow, I had this thing for Baylor University. I have no idea what planted that seed." The seed was clearly planted and cared for, though, because Baylor has since become a defining chapter for the couple. In episodes of "Fixer Upper," Chip and Jo even incorporated the school — working for parents of students and the school’s football team chaplain, just to name a few Baylor connections.
An ex kept Chip Gaines in Waco, Texas, but things worked out for the better
Believe it or not, but there was once another woman in Chip Gaines’ life who wasn’t Joanna Gaines. In fact, the mystery ex-girlfriend kept Chip in Waco, Texas, even after he had graduated from Baylor University in 1998, as she still had two years remaining at the school. He told the university’s alumni magazine that, clearly, the relationship wasn’t built to last. However, it was clear that Chip was meant to stay in Waco, because he would meet his future wife and business partner shortly thereafter.
"It’s very similar to the baseball story, to be honest with you," Chip told the magazine. "I look back on it from what might have been God’s perspective, and he knew he had to handcuff me at least short-term. What would have happened had I not had a serious relationship that kept me in Waco?" We don’t know exactly what would have happened, but we do know that Chip and Jo’s paths might have never crossed, which would have just been catastrophic for the home renovation lovers in so many of us. Plus, we’re pretty sure that Chip and Jo are happy they met, too.
Chip Gaines met his future wife in 2001 at her father’s shop
Chip Gaines knew he’d met the love of his life simply by looking at her picture. It was 2001, and Chip entered the tire shop belonging to Joanna Gaines’ father, and saw a photo of Jo hanging on the wall. As noted by Parade, Chip took one look at the photo and "knew I’d marry her one day." As fate would have it, Chip returned to the store, and Jo just happened to be working.
"We met in the waiting area and hit it off immediately," Jo said. "He was genuinely engaging and he had such a sincere smile." But Chip almost blew it when it came to their first date. In their book, "The Magnolia Story," the couple revealed that Chip was an hour and a half late, and Jo was just about ready to write him off. "He didn’t even have a plan for our date. He said, ‘So, Joanna, where do you want to go eat?’ He didn’t apologize for being late, either. He had so much confidence. I don’t know. I can’t explain it," Jo recalled.
Chip and Joanna married in 2003
Chip Gaines clearly didn’t blow things after all with Joanna, because he went from boyfriend to fiancé in 2002 when he popped the question. As noted by Brides, Chip had the whole thing planned out, and even went as far as involving Joanna’s family in the process. As recalled in their book, "The Magnolia Story," Chip told Joanna that he had set up a private concert for them to go to, which sounds awfully romantic. But, in a surprising twist, he proposed, and then took Joanna to a jeweler so that they could design her engagement ring to be exactly what she wanted. Ask any bride if they want to design their own ring, and the answer will almost always be yes.
Following the trip to the jeweler, Chip and Jo went to dinner, and both sets of their parents, Jo’s sister, and Chip’s sister were all in attendance, waiting to celebrate the happy couple. The pair got married in Waco, Texas (no surprise there), the following year at the historic Earle Harrison House. They chose the location because it reminded Jo of where she and Chip went for their first date, and the photos from the day just look magical.
Chip Gaines wasn’t always the powerful developer, and was broke when he married Jo
When we think about Chip and Joanna Gaines, we think about the Magnolia empire. But, when Chip and Jo first got married, all they had to their name was the money in Chip’s possession — rather, the money in his literal pocket. Yes, Chip was a struggling entrepreneur just trying to make ends meet. In an interview with People, Chip and Jo opened up about what those early days were like, and what her parents thought of their marriage in its infancy.
"I remember when we first got married, the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket," Jo said. "He always had a wad of cash, but we were broke. If I needed to go grocery shopping it’s whatever was in his pocket." She went on to share that Chip’s line of work — flipping houses — was not what her parents had in mind as a successful professional path, and her dad "spent the first two years of our marriage asking [Chip] if [he] was going to get a job." Sometimes, you just have to have a little faith that things will work out.
Chip Gaines became a dad for the first time in 2004
In between falling in love, flipping houses, and trying to pursue a professional path that he enjoyed, Chip Gaines also became a father for the first time. It was 2004, and he and Joanna Gaines welcomed their first child, Drake. Two years later, their first daughter, Ella Rose, was born and her birth was followed by her younger brother, Duke. Three kids sounds like a good amount, right? Well, the Gaines kept going. In 2010, they welcomed their second daughter, Emmie Kay, and the four kids were seen fairly often throughout their parents’ "Fixer Upper" episodes.
Their fans were shocked when Chip and Jo announced that she was pregnant with their fifth child, and the pair welcomed son Crew in 2018, according to Parade. Drake was aptly named after the Drake Hotel, located in New York City, as that’s where Chip and Jo went on their honeymoon. Ella has followed her mom and has expressed interest in design, Emmie and Duke certainly adopted a green thumb from their parents, and, as of publication, Crew is a sweet toddler who can be seen during the new episodes of "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home." The Gaineses have quite the big family.
Chip Gaines got into the house-flipping industry, and fame just ‘fell’ into his life
Chip Gaines certainly seems like a natural on television, but when "Fixer Upper" made it to the air in 2013, he was taken aback by just how successful the show — and subsequently he and Joanna Gaines — became over night. Chip had started flipping houses when he was in college, and maintained the profession throughout his early career, but the fame was something out of the blue. In an interview with People, Chip revealed that he was surprised by the success that followed in the wake of the show, as making it big was something that he never truly expected.
"All of this sort of fell into our laps," Chip said. "We were just living our life out here in little bitty Waco. We had dreams and aspirations like most folks, but this has really been something else." When flipping houses was the only career avenue that Chip was focused on, the popularity of "Fixer Upper" certainly seemed to grow on its own. With that success, Chip and Jo ran with it and began releasing books, memoirs, product lines at Target, and expanding their own footprint in Waco, Texas, with businesses and real estate ventures.
Chip Gaines started working on his own family’s home renovation in 2012
When it came to one of the biggest flips of his career, Chip Gaines decided to take on his family’s home. When watching episodes of "Fixer Upper," past or present, viewers are taken to the farmhouse, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ gorgeous property. But, the house didn’t always look like the shiplap dream that it is today. As noted by Country Living, Chip took on the project in 2012 when he and Jo bought the house. They were taken by its charm, but they were set on transforming it into the house of their dreams.
Renovating the farmhouse took over a year and half and, if you’ve watched episodes of "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home," then you know that Jo recently renovated even more of the farmhouse to reflect her ever-evolving design style. The farmhouse was built in 1895, it’s about 1,700 square feet (although it could easily be more thanks to Jo’s additions), and it sits on about 40 acres of land in Crawford, Texas. So, once again, Chip’s life took him on an ever-changing road, from house flipper to father to renovator, and the farmhouse called on all of his hats to make his family’s dream a reality.
Chip took the home reno industry by storm, and became a businessman overnight
So, we all know that "Fixer Upper" pretty much became a hit overnight, mostly because Chip and Joanna Gaines provided amazing, feel-good television. But, with their ever-increasing popularity (at the time) came amazing opportunities, and Chip quickly found himself transforming from a formerly-broke house flipper to a full-fledged businessman. As noted by Country Living, Chip solidified his presence in Waco, Texas, with the purchase of the Silos — a lot situated around the old Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company. There, he and Jo began the process of building the Magnolia Market and, with its expansion over time, came immense success.
What started as their retail store quickly transformed into a bakery, a hangout spot for food trucks, a concert venue, a garden store, and a tourist destination. After the Silos had been open for a year, Chip told the Dallas News that he was hopeful that the space would continue to grow. Calling the feeling of walking into the available structures on the lot "like being an ant inside a Coke can," Chip said he was hopeful that the businesses would continue to expand. If only he knew what was coming his way.
2018 saw Chip Gaines become a marathon runner
Chip Gaines never shied away from showing some seriously impressive strength during his "Fixer Upper" flips, but he decided to up his game in 2018. As noted by Runner’s World, Chip took part in the Silo District marathon, and finished the race in five hours and 21 minutes. Chip partnered with professional runner Gabriele Grunewald for the project, but it went further than just working with a pro. Grunewald was a cancer patient and survivor, and all the proceeds raised supporting Chip in his marathon efforts went to cancer research.
On the actual day of the race, Chip was cheered on by Joanna Gaines, a number of friends and family, and he was even kept company by Jo who drove a golf cart next to him the entire time. To top off a wonderful cause, Chip was joined by his little girl, Emmie Kay, for the last mile of the race and the two of them crossed the finish line together. "I can tell you this beyond a shadow of a doubt … that thing is a doozy," Chip said of the marathon. "That’s a difficult race to run, but hopefully, this is just the first of many." Sadly, Grunewald passed away in 2019.
Chip Gaines transformed yet again, this time into a project manager of sorts
So. we’ve already touched on the Silos — the large compound of sorts that belongs to Chip and Joanna Gaines — but Chip’s role transformed even more when the couple decided, once again, to expand the site. As noted by House Beautiful, Chip oversaw a $10.4 million renovation of the Silos and, if you’ve watched the episode of "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home" that documents the process, you know that Chip floated in and out of projects with acute attention to detail. He even oversaw the process of moving a historic church onto the grounds of the Silos – a feat that certainly did not seem easy.
In addition to the church, which was originally built in 1894, the Silos was upgraded with more stores, garden spaces, and a fully functioning wiffle ball field that paid homage to one of the greatest baseball players, Babe Ruth. As reported by The Waco Tribune, the updated site would surely bring in more tourists, which is a hard feat to beat, considering that the Silos gets about 30,000 visitors per week. To think that Chip went from broke house flipper to the overseer of a multi-million-dollar project is quite impressive.
The house flipper evolved into a network executive
When Chip and Joanna Gaines announced that they were ending their hit show, "Fixer Upper," at what seemed like the height of their success, people were stunned. But, in 2018, the couple made it known that they’d be launching their own network, full of original programming, and since its launch on July 15, 2021, the Magnolia Network has been nothing but successful. Turning Chip essentially into a program executive, the Magnolia Network boasts shows like "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home," "Restoration Road with Clint Harp," and "Super Dad," and it’s welcomed a huge audience. In fact, as noted by Variety, just a preview of the Magnolia Network on the DIY channel back in August 2020 raked in an impressive 2.5 million viewers.
That doesn’t mean that becoming an executive has been all rainbows and unicorns, though. Chip revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he was nervous about taking on the role, as he didn’t want to face the "harsh inevitability" that some shows on the network wouldn’t take off. "Post-success, post-fame, however you want to articulate it, we haven’t experienced much failure," he said, but given that everything he and Jo touches basically turns to gold, we predict that the Magnolia Network and name will continue to thrive.