Last week, embattled 90 Day Fiance couple Ashley Martson and Jay Smith were caught lying as part of a surprising scandal.
The stars of the smash hit TLC show had been leaking fake details about their relationship via a bogus account on Instagram.
Fans discovered this when Jay accidentally went live on the fake account, exposing the "leaks" as an attention-grabbing sham.
At first, Ashley seemed reluctant to address the scandal directly, perhaps hoping to hide under a rock and let it blow over.
After being relentlessly raked over the coals by fans, friends, and castmates alike, she broke down - and broke her silence.
Here, Ashley tells her side of the story, begging fans to understand and to find it in their hearts to forgive herself and Jay.
Ashley knows that she effed up
Yes, Jay was the one who goofed and revealed their secret account. But Ashley did wrong by having it in the first place, and she is risking a lot (as you'll see) and putting it all out there in the hopes that fans can accept her apology and at least respect her for coming clean.
This is how it all began
In this photo, shared by 90 Day Fiance blogger John Yates, you can see that an account that had "leaked" past photos of Ashley and Jay's, to their alleged embarrassment, was actually their own. How was this discovered? When Jay Smith accidentally went on Instagram Live from the alternate account. Whoops.
This is a layered, messy scandal. Basically, Ashley and Jay ran their own false flag account, "leaking" their own photos. And it appears that they used it to gain sympathy from fans, bloggers, and even their own castmates -- even in private conversations. It's not the worst thing that a 90 Day Fiance star has done, to be clear, but a lot of people feel shocked, hurt, and betrayed.
At first, Ashley only spoke about one thing
She wanted to make it clear that she really, truly has lupus - a serious illness she has been accused of fabricating and/or exaggerating.
She even shared her medical history
That is an almost alarming level of transparency, but she was trying to make a point and it worked. We already believed that she had lupus, but this quieted any doubts.
It was already pretty clear
Hospitals don't let you rent a room to cosplay as a sick person, and when last we checked, TLC doesn't send flowers to fake hospital rooms.
At first, Ashley didn't talk about the rest
It seemed like she was afraid to talk about her scandal because of, everyone assumed, a strict NDA that allowed her to discuss her health battle but did not allow her to address the scandal of leaking her own photos - or any scandal, for that matter.
On Sunday, Ashley spoke out
"I was very sick a few weeks ago and was admitted into the ER for a seizure and acute renal failure,” Ashley writes. “After three doctors and many decisions regarding dialysis and a possible port placement, they first decided to try IV treatments and medications for blood calcium/potassium levels as an alternative." Thankfully, that alternative treatment worked.
She had already proven that she was sick
A bunch of trolls reported Ashley's GoFundMe as "fraud" long before the Instagram scandal, which was a hateful thing to do, so she had already presented evidence to GoFundMe that she was sick. We know that people on reality television have lied about their health before, but it's ... rare. Ashley is not Brooks Ayers.
THEN she gets into the real scandal
"As for Jay, yes he made a fake page and I was aware. We are sorry that this has placed doubt in your minds in regards to our entire story,” Ashley writes. “This is what happened: as you know, there was a first account called ‘calling you out fraud’ that was exposing/posting personal photos that ONLY my old friend on the scooter had access to. Various blogs and accounts told us that she was sending them tons of information about us before the show even began to air (90daysavageedition, etc.)"
It started off with good intentions
"When we finally got this original account (‘calling you out fraud’) removed for violating Instagram terms," Ashley explains. "Jay made the second one (and name it ‘calling you out fraud 2’) in hopes to distract the audience from the fake messages and personal photos of myself and my children that she would post. The ceremony photos were originally posted on Natalie’s original ‘calling you out fraud’ page. Jay just coped and pasted them to the new ‘2’ account so that it would look like an extension of the original."
Ashley confirms what we previously reported
"These photos were NOT from our wedding day, they were from a ceremony we had in Jamaica before the show even contacted us or started filming. We did not break our contract by reporting them from the original ‘calling you out fraud’ site. There are still many fake accounts circulating that we can confirm are Natalie, as the photos being posted there are, again, photos that only SHE has access to," Ashley clarifies. However, Natalie has denied these claims, and blames her husband for the fake accounts. Oh, boy.
But also, Ashley blames Jay
"Did Jay mess up and go live? He sure did!" Ashley affirms. "Again, by making the second account, he was trying to beat Natalie from starting another one so she couldn’t continue to defame us or post our address, personal numbers, and children’s photos."
She also blames 90 Day Fiance itself
"We have been asked to be very deceptive about many things during our run with the show,” Ashley says. “We have been asked (and agreed for some time) to fake our relationship by not posting anything that makes us appear that we are together." That sounds consistent with previous statements from other 90 Day Fiance stars.
She never expected this real-life drama when she signed up
"Personally, I thought this show was just for entertainment & that’s what we were told," Ashley notes. "Since the show has ended I never confirmed the status of our relationship due to the contract."
And then she goes after her castmates
"As for fellow cast members popping off: YOU WORK FOR THE SAME SHOW, so — acting like you’re mortified about the falsity of things that happen is COMPLETELY hypocritical. Most of you from Season 6 went on a social media TIRADE about the editing and fraud of the show, so don’t suddenly act like you have no idea how this goes."
They could have reached out to her ...
"ANY OF YOU (this season and BEYOND!) could have texted or called us personally but instead you wanted to jump on some drama wagon and back into the spotlight again, instead of KNOWING BETTER and being REAL. You’re ridiculous and just as much a part of this facade as me."
In the end, belief is up to the fans
"I hope this clears things up," Ashley expresses. "You are the believers. I can’t make you believe me any more than you do or do not, but this is my record of what’s happening and the choice is yours. Also, my Instagram is being managed by a colleague while I’m away, You’ll still see things here that look like I’m posting, and any messages or information will be screened before being passed on to me. Thanks for reading."
And then comes the twist
"Since I’m such a ‘money-hungry scammer,’ I’m breaking the NDA and surprise: Jay and I have never separated since the day we were married," she reveals. That's surprising news, especially since Ashley filed for divorce on January 11 (and then took it back all of eight days later)
They've NEVER separated?
Does that mean that she was fed lines to say at the reunion? And more significantly, remember when Jay started a GoFundMe to get money for his own place? Was that a scam ... or was Jay really considering it before they worked things out?
Breaking her NDA is a big deal
"Breaking the NDA means I won’t be paid a dime for future shows," Ashley writes. "We were made to act as if our relationship was no longer active."
Ashley says that 90 Day Fiance is a shady business
"I now understand why so many of the same cast members who are talking s--t now, reached out to me to warn me of all of this before," Ashley observes. "Interesting."
Ashley and Jon had faced off
He dropped the c-word when describing Ashley and Jay last week when the scandal broke. Now we know why he was so mad -- he had DMed her to warn her about leakers.
Paola calls Ashley a hypocrite
Going on and on about an NDA does sound a little iffy if you've been quietly leaking your own stuff on social media, no matter your initially good intentions. Paola explains that she is upset because she feels betrayed. That is fair.
Even Ricky gets involved
Fans watched in horror as they feared that Ricky had been catfished. Only later did they learn that Ricky had instead been messaging two different women in Columbia so that he could use Ximena, to whom he eventually proposed, as a back-up. Like a safety school. As you can see, the 90 Day Fiance villain is using this scandal to promote his own YouTube page.
Steven's comment was the most alarming of all
Steven Frend is Ashley's own castmate, and Steven's words seem to imply that there was some sort of SERIOUS accusation within Ashley and Jay's marriage.
So what WAS real?
Did Jay really download Tinder and FaceTime some random girl right after their marriage? We're going to go with ... probably.
What does this mean for Jay and Ashley?
To be honest, it'll be hard for fans to support or root for them -- at least for a while. Fans understand that shows can restrict and manipulate their stars, but this was something that Ashley and Jay chose to do. That broke a lot of trust.
But fans haven't seen the last of Ashley and Jay
These two filmed for 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? Maybe we'll understand more about these two then. For what it's worth, we hope that they still get paid. TLC is still getting more than its money's worth of drama.