There are certain catchphrases on television that become a true slice of Americana. Think: “You’re fired!” from The Apprentice or “Sashay away” from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Another big one? Talk show host Maury Povich declaring in his signature authoritative voice: “You are the father.” Indeed, The Maury Show has been a staple in daytime entertainment since its debut in 1991, outliving the best of the best — from Sally Jesse Raphael to Oprah Winfrey. His secret? Those paternity stories never seem to get old.
But Maury has helped his guests discuss plenty of other dicey topics too, and we’re about to relive some of the most shocking episodes. We’ll also get the talk show veteran’s take on his particular brand of entertainment. From kids gone wild to cheaters busted backstage and a whole lot of baby mama drama, these are the eye-opening Maury moments that you simply can’t unsee.
A white woman changes her race to black
When a European model named Martina appeared on Botched asking for butt implants in 2017, surgeons Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif turned her down flat (no pun intended). But little did we know why she wanted them: She was slowly but surely trying to transition from a Caucasian woman into a black woman. She explained her goal in a Facebook post: “Yesterday I was with an African hairdresser and got a hair extension with curly, African hair. To become more and more a black woman, that is such a wonderful feeling … Next, I’ll have consultations for the butt enlargement and for the African facial features.”
When Martina appeared on The Maury Show later that year, the busty former blonde stepped on stage with much darker skin. Needless to say, the audience lost it at that eye-opening moment, especially when she told Maury she now considered herself to be “80 percent” black.
A 9-year-old girl curses out an audience member
Controversial kids are often the stars of The Maury Show, but this one was just beyond. Burnetta, the mom of 9-year-old Nadia, appeared on the program to seek help for her daughter, who smokes, drinks, and is … wait for it … practicing to be a “topless dancer.” Mom wasn’t exaggerating one iota. When Nadia walked out, twerking in a tube top and platforms, it was hard to even look at — much less believe. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. At one point during the break, little Nadia started addressing the audience.
“Y’all need to go home and change y’all f***in’ clothes,” she said, proceeding to point out a few women in the front. “She don’t match. She don’t match. She don’t match.” When an audience member responded, little Nadia doubled down. “Yeah, I said your white a** don’t match,” she spewed, as her target practically clutched her pearls in disbelief.
This woman freaked out at the sight of cotton balls
Our next guest, Carolyn, claimed she had a legit fear of cotton balls. “I can’t be in the same room with them. I have to run,” she tearfully said in a promotional clip, so Carolyn did what anyone should do when they need to deal with a deep psychological issue — go on The Maury Show. Unfortunately for her, the talk show host didn’t disappoint and hired a guy to dress in a cotton ball suit and chase her around the stage. Cue meltdown.
As it turns out, fear of cotton balls is a real thing. Called sidonglobophobia, it’s an uncommon anxiety disorder that can even lead to panic attacks. In a powerful act of solidarity, another sufferer courageously shared her story with The Cut: “I first noticed my phobia when I was around 6 years old. I’d been curious about an oversize package of cotton balls that had lingered unopened beneath our bathroom sink … As soon as my fingertips pressed against the contents, I felt an unusual, very unpleasant sensation — as if my stomach was collapsing into itself … Since that day, I’ve done everything humanly possible to avoid these globes of doom.”
A father of five finds out he has a lot more kids
Harry — a dead ringer for Coolio — already knew he had five kids when he decided to bring three different women on The Maury Show at the same time to prove he’s not the father of any of their babies. According to the women, Harry flatly denied paternity of all three children for years. One of his exes claimed he was a “deadbeat lowlife” who left her when she was seven months pregnant, while another said he denied being the father of her son simply because the child was bowlegged. (“What the hell kind of excuse is that?” she demanded.)
Of course, the paternity test reveal didn’t quite go as Harry had planned. The moment Maury Povich announced that Harry was the father of the first baby, that mom leaped out of her seat and started screaming in her baby daddy’s face, practically forcing Harry to cower in a fetal position. By the time the third child was confirmed to be his, he looked glassy-eyed, staring into space. You know what they say: Don’t ask questions you don’t really want the answers to.
A jilted woman insists on wearing lingerie in public
Demetra was previously on The Maury Show with her ex, Melvin, who failed a lie detector test when asked if he’d had sex with other women. Devastated, Demetra decided to take her power back in an unusual way.
During her subsequent appearance on the show, Demetra revealed that she regularly wore her bra and panties out in public — even in church! — in an effort to feel sexy again. To prove it, she walked out on stage in one of her favorite lingerie outfits — a skimpy red satin number — and later treated the audience to a gallery of eye-opening photos of her wearing everything from cheetah prints to lace corsets. All of this was to the horror of her new fiancé, who had come on the show to watch her get a makeover. Thankfully, said makeover went well, and Demetra promised to keep her new conservative look.
Tears ensue when a man learns he fathered only one twin
Chad originally believed he was the father of Vena’s fraternal twins (a girl and a boy) because he had no idea Vena also slept with another man right before she got pregnant. After the babies were born, he started hearing rumblings from family members that the infants looked like Vena’s ex — so the two decided to head on down to The Maury Show to straighten things out.
The paternity of the boy was revealed first. Chad was indeed the father, and the couple celebrated. But even Maury Povich looked unprepared for what turned out to be a surprising twist. Chad was not the father of the girl. Both Chad and Vena ran in opposite directions in tears. Maury later revealed in a Reddit AMA that finding out a set of twins had different fathers on the show was “the most surprised” he has ever been. The chances of fraternal twins having different dads (known as being “bipaternal”) is reportedly only 1 in 400, so as traumatic as the experience was for these parents, you could say the rest of us were lucky enough to bear witness to a miracle.
This husband was caught cheating on his wife backstage
Warning to any cheaters who are still thinking of appearing on The Maury Show: Pay close attention to the following. When Cristal came on the show to find out if her husband, Dennis, was cheating, the producers actually took it one step further and planted a “sexy decoy” to try to seduce Dennis in the green room before the show. Sadly, he took the bait.
In an eye-opening moment heard ’round the world, the show played video of Dennis first talking to the woman backstage, then making out with her within minutes. His wife let him have it, of course — but like any self-respecting cheater, Dennis just kept yelling, “No, no, no! I don’t know her!” (Sorry Dennis, but that’s kind of irrelevant.) To add more fuel to the fire, Dennis was grilled backstage in greater detail and revealed more dirt. He said he’d “probably” and “maybe just one time” done more than just kiss another woman since marrying Cristal. This sparked another round of wailing from Cristal — and later, an outpouring of feedback from commenters on YouTube. Folks offered tons of unsolicited advice about the risks of associating with such a “nasty dog.”
This woman was 130 percent sure she knew who the father was
Simone, who had done paternity tests on The Maury Show three times before, returned yet again with her ex-lover, Freddy, a cab driver she had an affair with for about a year. Simone claimed she was “130 percent sure” that Freddy was the father — even though previous footage revealed she also had been “100 percent sure,” “110 percent sure,” and “120 percent sure” about the three men the show had previously tested. This time around, Simone stood up to hear the test results because she said she was “too excited” and wanted the audience to “feel stupid afterward.”
Alas, she didn’t get the answer she was so sure about. When Maury Povich revealed that Freddy was not the father, Simone literally keeled over, knocking over a plant. As Maury tried to comfort her, Freddy pointed at the audience in celebration, mugged for the camera, and even did a few shoulder rolls, because hey, why not? Since then, Simone has reportedly appeared on the show ten more times, testing different men — but she still hasn’t found the father of her son — that’s according to one superfan who Maury jokingly crowned as his “official historian.”
A 2-year-old boy weighs 79 pounds
Tammy appeared on The Maury Show with her son, Chase, who at 2 years old, weighed 79 pounds, which is apparently the weight of an average 11-year-old boy. “I do not understand why Chase weighs as much as he does, because I do not overfeed him. He eats fruits and vegetables all the time,” his mama said in the show’s promotional clip. However, Tammy also revealed that Chase would eat “until I stop him.” When her little boy walked out on stage, she was barely able to pick him up to put him in a chair. Even scarier was the sound of the little boy’s labored breathing into the microphone, which Maury Povich commented on right away.
“Listen to him breathe … Does that scare you, Tammy, when you hear that hard breathing?” he asked. Tammy admitted that Chase did breathe “funny” at night because of a folded epiglottis (the flap of cartilage that keeps food from getting into your windpipe) and said she worried about sleep apnea as well. We certainly hope Chase and the rest of the overweight children who appeared on that episode are living happy and healthy lives today.
You can't unsee this wild teen shouting at her mom
Kathy brought her physically and verbally abusive daughter, Jennifer, to The Maury Show in hopes of improving their relationship, but Jennifer wasn’t about to go down without a fight. As the cameras rolled, the teen shouted at her mother just inches from her face. The eye-opening moment is painful to watch, but both Maury Povich and Kathy remain stoic during the tirade. Jennifer is whisked away for a weekend boot camp, where her attitude completely turns around.
“Wild teens” became a favorite topic for The Maury Show. In fact, South Park famously parodied the material in an episode called I Do What I Want! that features Cartman appearing on the talk show as an out-of-control brat. The spoof, which could have easily been inspired by Jennifer, was so dead-on that Maury said he called South Park creators to get one of the animation cells from the episode to display in his home.
Security had to break up the aftermath of this paternity test
As Maury Povich put it, this one was a serious case of “he said, she said.” Amanda, the mother of 4-month-old Nathaniel, claimed she dated Nery seriously for a year and a half, but he insisted she was just a “cheap trick.” While Nery and his sister, Josie, claimed Amanda said she had terminated the pregnancy, Amanda said they knew she was pregnant and had been denying her son his entire life. When the moment arrived to hear the paternity test results on The Maury Show, things were tense.
As Maury announced that Nery was the father of Amanda’s baby, Amanda flew off the handle, popping her chest and trying to shove her ex. Nery’s sister jumped up from the audience to defend him, and the security team had to break it up. Maury later told a Reddit AMA that “even though there’s a lot of emotion” on the show, he’s never felt physically threatened. “Somehow they seem to respect me, and they do a lot of things, EXCEPT attack me,” he said.
Victory laps and acrobatics are par for the course
It’s not every day that you find out you’re not the father, so when it happens, you gotta break out your happy dance. Scout reportedly claimed he was “too good looking” to be the father of Monique’s baby, so when he finds out on The Maury Show that he is not the baby’s daddy, he literally runs through the audience like a rock star and does a flip on stage.
While Scout’s dance is entertaining, it’s actually not that unique. Host Maury Povich has said that he’s seen all kinds of victory dances on the show when men find out they’re not the father of controversial babies. “I’ve had people do front-flips, back-flips, I’ve had splits, I’ve had women do the splits when they proved the man was the father, I’ve had guys who could play on any gymnastics team, and I love it when they run through the audience, giving high fives for something that they didn’t do!” he told fans during a Reddit AMA.
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