The Duggars are in financial trouble, or so the online media narrative has told us more than once since TLC canceled 19 Kids and Counting.
Understandably so. Members of the embattled fundamentalist Christian family have recently issued four separate calls for public donations!
Are the Duggars really that hard up for cash, though? Or just getting greedier since TLC cut them off and looking to rake it in however they can?
To recap, TLC canceled 19 Kids and Counting two months after we learned that Josh Duggar molested five underage girls, his sisters included.
This stunning scandal and epic fall from grace was all the more amazing given that it came on the heels of the Duggars' peaking in popularity.
Since the network abruptly shut down the show after 15 (!) seasons, the Arkansas family has undoubtedly struggled to figure out what's next.
Jill Duggar and husband Derick peaced out of the U.S., and asked fans for donations to their tax-deductible organization Dillard Family Ministries.
The group funds their evangelical work in Central America, and accepts donations online with suggested monthly amounts ranging from $15-100.
Stranger still, Jim Bob's newly-engaged niece Amy Duggar gave out an address on Instagram for fans who would like to send “cards and etc.”
Amy promises to “personally hand write” a letter to anyone who sent a card or an "etc." (Amy denies she has financial motivations for the post.)
Now, eagle-eyed fans have noticed a "Donate" button on the Duggar kids' YouTube channel Duggar Studios, which currently has just 15 videos.
Widespread outcry - and "Duggar family broke!" headlines - ran wild online after this was discovered, and the donate button was quietly nixed.
But Duggar Studios’ fundraising efforts are far from over. They are now advertising a $20 gray T-shirt featuring the YouTube channel’s logo!
The page for the shirt says “[t]he contribution you make, when buying these t-shirts, will enable Duggar Studios to produce more quality videos.”
Their definition of “quality videos” is highly debatable, but that's neither here nor there. What's hard to dispute here is their newfound shamelessness.
Are the Duggars in foreclosure and really going flat broke, or are they just going all-out to fund their quietly lavish lifestyle (for 19 kids)?
Insiders insist that the family still has lucrative speaking deals and a devoted fan base supportive of their other ventures, for what that's worth.
The loss of at least $25,000-40,000 per episode - not to mention lost book deals and endorsements - can't be easy for them to stomach, though.
We know Josh Duggar is out of a job, having resigned from the Family Research Council in the wake of the stunning revelations of his molestation.
Next-eldest son John David Duggar owns a tow truck business, we think, while twin sister Jana Duggar may or may not be training to be a midwife.
It's not clear what Jessa Duggar or Ben Seewald do for money, but all of the kids are home schooled and none have graduated from college.
Bottom line: Their financial picture is hard to get a read on, both near- and long-term, and that uncertainly feeds (and may explain) rumors.
The Duggars famously pride themselves on frugality, budgeting and a DIY attitude, which makes these requests for cash all the more puzzling.
This week, The Daily Beast reached out to the Duggar family for comment and ... didn't learn a whole lot from them. Or did they, implicitly?
They received reply that included the following: “If you are interested in purchasing a book, click on the link at Duggarfamily.com for book sales.”