Phil Robertson is living the American dream.
He has plenty of money after barely scraping by most of his life. He is famous far beyond his bayou home in West Monroe, La.
His Duck Commander business is thriving and thanks to A&E, his reality show, “Duck Dynasty,” has made his family famous with millions of viewers each week.
He’s even doing well as an author with his biography, “Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,” which sold more than 350,000 copies since its May 7 release.
On Sunday, Aug. 25, part of the Robertson clan, Phil’s wife “Miss Kay,” their son Willie and his wife Korie and Uncle Si will appear at the Kentucky State Fair.
If the Robertsons are somewhat eccentric—decked in camouflage and long beards—they also are intriguing. They do not protect the truth about where they’ve been and where they are going.
They are not ashamed of the Gospel.
Phil and Kay are honest about where they were headed without Jesus. For Phil, seven years between the ages of 21 and 28 were like sliding down a muddy river bank. He drank too much whiskey, ran wild, smoked marijuana, popped pills and hunted ducks, leaving his wife, affectionately called “Miss Kay,” to raise their three sons alone.
Their lives were in ruins when Kay began studying the Bible with William “Bill” Smith, a preacher at White’s Ferry Road Church. It didn’t sit well with Phil, who called her a “holy roller, a Bible thumper and goody two shoes.” He told her to take the boys and leave.
She was gone three months, until the day Phil showed up at her work slumped over the steering wheel of his truck. Miss Kay thought he was drunk and told her coworkers to watch from a window.
“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t do anything. I want my family back,” Phil recounted in his book.
Kay told Phil he couldn’t do it by himself and invited Pastor Smith over for a talk.
Phil was baptized the next day. From that point on, he was all in, attending church several times a week, going to Bible studies and teaching at Quachita Christian School.
“When I started my Christian walk, I was determined to become a scholar of the Bible, to understand the true meaning of every verse of Scripture so one day I might be able to spread His Word to other people who found themselves in the predicament I once struggled through,” Phil said in the book.
Now Phil and Kay have been married more than 50 years and look at newfound fame as a chance to preach the Gospel.
Over the years, they struggled to get where they are now. Phil believes success is God’s blessing on his life.
According to Phil, many spiritual things in the television show are cut. At one point, he was asked not to pray in Jesus’ name during the family prayer before dinner.
Phil asked producers if they were familiar with year designations B.C. and A.D.
“If everything on the calendar refers to before or after Christ, surely we can say His name on the show,” Phil said in the book.
He was furious when producers bleeped out words their son Willie said to make it appear that he cursed. Phil fought producers, and bleeps ceased.
Glimpses of the family’s faith survive the cutting floor.
Phil’s brother, affectionately referred to as “Uncle Si,” said he always travels with three things: a gallon jug of iced tea, his plastic cup and his Bible.
Another scene of Phil showed his Bible open on his lap as he prepared to preach.
“Duck Commander Sunday is basically a redneck rendition of fearing God, loving your neighbor,” Phil said on that episode. “We all sing church songs, everybody wearing camo, and everybody happy, happy, happy.”
According to Kay, “Duck Dynasty” is “total mission and ministry.”
Even before “Duck Dynasty,” Phil had a wide following for his revival-style preaching that included talk of ducks and Jesus. Each of the couple’s four sons are involved in church. Phil said they all preach the same message of faith, repentance and baptism wherever they’re invited.
Next season, Al, the “professional” preacher in the family, will join the show.
Fame has not changed the Robertsons much.
They do not Twitter or Skype. They live in the same house on the river, and Phil drives the same truck. The whole family goes to the same church every Sunday morning.
“Following Jesus has been a blast,” Phil said. “The Lord has blessed me mightily. It’s what makes me happy, happy, happy.”
Phil Robertson’s book “Happy, Happy, Happy” is available in The Living Word bookstore at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus.