The Truth About Gina And Pat Neely's Divorce

It's been a long time since anyone has seen Pat Neely and Gina Neely together onscreen. For seven years, the two co-hosted Food Network's now-canceled "Down Home With The Neelys," which ran from 2008 to 2014, per IMDb. The show featured longtime restaurateur Pat and his former bank branch manager wife, Gina, cooking in their Memphis, Tennessee home kitchen. 

The former high school sweethearts, each of whom had been married and divorced once before marrying in 1994, shared two daughters, including one from Gina's previous marriage (per Amomama). Viewers loved the Neely's adorable and relatable married-couple dynamics, not to mention the down-home wisdom their repartee imparted, particularly when it came to Southern cooking and barbecue. "Down Home With The Neelys" depicted Gina and Pat as enjoying what appeared to be "a seemingly unbreakable bond," per Essence.

Things were not as they seemed, however. Although fans were shocked by news of the split, according to The Grio, court documents revealed that the Neelys had already been quietly separated for two years before their joint announcement was made, per TMZ. Both Gina and Pat took significant time to process the demise of their marriage before addressing the public regarding the circumstances surrounding it (with Gina having waited for two years, and Pat having waited for four). However, both Pat and Gina have now spoken out about the split. And from the sound of things, the marriage was rocky before the show began, but the show and its success were significant precipitating factors.

The divorce apparently blindsided Pat Neely

Although fans of "Down Home With The Neelys" were shocked to learn that the Neelys had not been as happily married as their onscreen displays of affection seemed to suggest, it's possible that no one was more surprised than Pat Neely himself. As he told People in a 2018 interview — his first time speaking publicly about the split since 2014, it was Gina Neely who left and who wanted the marriage to end. "I was devastated," Pat recalled. "I didn't have the words to explain it." 

That being said, Gina has hinted that Pat may have been experiencing some level of denial as to the state of their marriage. Over the course of their 20+ year union, the couple had tried marriage counseling at least 12 times, she admitted on an episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now," per Essence. Further, Gina claims she tried to leave the marriage four other times before she finally made it stick in 2014. 

In fact, Gina maintains that even before "Down Home With The Neelys" had been greenlit by Food Network, their marriage was already in trouble. As she revealed in a 2018 interview with People, "I was going to divorce Pat prior to the show." Nevertheless, she stuck with the marriage and the show, "bound by not only the word she had given the network, but also the feeling of joy she got when she would share her family stories on camera."

Gina and Pat Neely wanted different things from the start

When Gina and Pat Neely rekindled their high school romance in 1994, Pat had already been running his family's restaurant business since age 23. Gina, in addition to raising her daughter, Spenser, was working as branch manager at the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis. "I never aspired to be a chef," Gina said in 2018 during an episode of Bravo's reality show, "To Rome For Love," on which Gina starred (via People). Nevertheless, she left the corporate world behind to join Pat in the restaurant business, managing the catering and retail divisions (via Food Network). 

Nor did Gina aspire to be on television. "That was Pat's dream," she clarified (via People). When it came to the pilot for "Down Home With The Neelys," Gina thought it would be just the one show. When the series got picked up, "everybody was over the moon except for me," Gina revealed. 

The marriage, which was already in trouble, as Gina told People in a 2018 interview, became further strained by the show and its success. While the foodie world was falling in love with the Neelys and their seemingly loving banter, Gina was feeling like there may have been too much togetherness. "There was no balance, no boundaries," she observed. "We should have been allowed space so we could have a stronger feeling of love."

Doing the show spelled the eventual end of the Neelys' marriage

Even as "Down Home With The Neelys" was becoming a perennial jewel in the Food Network crown, Gina Neely found herself disengaging from Pat Neely, to the point where their relationship no longer felt like a marriage to her. 

"I wasn't sexually attracted to him," she told People in 2018. "He became my business partner, whereas I needed a husband." But even the business partnership came to feel like an emotional ordeal for Gina, who recalled "cocooning" herself and crying in secret in the leadup to episodes shoots. Nevertheless, Gina stayed with the show for seven years — the last two of which, she and Pat were living apart, unbeknownst to their fans (per TMZ).

As previously noted, Gina felt a responsibility to the show and to the network. In addition, she felt sustained by the moments of joy that she would experience while sharing her family stories with a rapt public audience. On the other hand, Gina was aware that her daughters hated the attention the show and those stories brought to their lives. Nevertheless, Gina was reluctant to leave the show or her marriage, which had, by then, become one and the same. To Gina, leaving meant subjecting her daughters to divorce and living apart from their father. Having been raised without a father, herself, Gina had hoped to "break the cycle" for her daughters. 

Pat Neely says he'll 'always cherish' getting to do the show

In 2014, two years after she had quietly left the marital home that she shared with Pat Neely, her then-husband of 20+ years (per TMZ), Gina Neely finally felt ready to step away from both the show that had made her and her family famous, as well as the last remaining legal trappings of her marriage to Pat. 

On September 26, 2014, the couple issued a joint statement that left no room for their heartbroken fans to even hope for a reconciliation, per People. The Neely divorce was finalized quickly, the litigation taking a mere six hours in total, according to Pat (via People).

Despite that Gina was the one who chose to end both the relationship and the show's uber-successful run, Pat has said that he respected Gina's decision. Further, he has said that he harbors no ill feelings towards his ex-wife. "One of the things that I'll always cherish about 'Down Home with the Neelys' was that I had an opportunity to get on television every day and invite people into our home," he told People in 2018. "And I was able to share that with my high school sweetheart, a woman I truly loved, and to be me. I never had to act."

What are they up to today?

In the year prior to their 2014 divorce announcement, both Gina Neely and Pat Neely had been pursuing individual projects. Gina became a spokesperson for the "George Foreman Grills Weight Loss Challenge," losing 20 pounds in the process, per Spectrum Brands. And Pat partnered with My Family Dollar to fight food insecurity, per People

Since the divorce, Gina has also starred on Bravo's reality-romance show "To Rome For Love." She remains single as of now but has nevertheless expanded her horizons, even giving interracial dating a try — something she had previously expressed reservations about (per Madame Noire). Currently a motivational speaker and philanthropist, Gina resides in Atlanta and, as of February 2022, is awaiting the birth of her first grandchild (per The Grio).

After they split, Pat said he thought he'd "never get married again," but that changed a couple of years later, when he met a registered nurse-anesthetist named Tamika Parks, whom he married in 2017. According to Distractify, Pat "popped the question in the winter of 2016, and the two were married by 2017." Today, Pat and Tamika have a daughter, Eriel, (born in 2018) and are raising son Eijah from Tamika's prior relationship, per People. Professionally speaking, last we heard, Pat has been doing marketing for the Atlanta, Georgia-based restaurant chain, This Is It! (per the Memphis Business Journal and Daily Memphian).

Gina and Pat Neely are not in contact

It has now been eight years since Pat Neely and Gina Neely went their separate ways, simultaneously tolling the death knell with regard to their beloved Food Network show, "Down Home With The Neelys." In the first four years following their divorce, the two former spouses had no contact at all, as Gina told People in 2018. ""I don't wish him any harm, but he's never reached out to me," she said at the time. "Our girls are older so we're not really co-parenting or anything." 

It was during this four-year period that Pat met his now-wife, Tamika Parks, and since then, Neely and Parks have been building a family of their own. And this time, he doesn't want to subject his marriage to the public scrutiny to which "Down Home With The Neelys" subjected his previous marriage to Gina. 

And while Gina Neely became a reality-show romance-seeker for a brief time in 2018 (per Bravo), she has, likewise, been keeping mum about her relationships, if she has, indeed, had any in recent years. Given the relative radio silence from both Pat and Gina regarding the intimacies and intricacies of their private lives, if the two have been in contact at all since 2014, it looks to have been entirely outside of the public's gaze.