Where does the Bayou Billionaires’ mailbox money come from

CMT is about to unleash the outlandish Dowden family from NW Louisiana on the reality landscape. The show is called Bayou Billionaires and it’s like a fish out of water concept as it follows the Dowdens who just so happened to be sitting on the Haynesville Shale, which is one of the largest natural gas producing geological areas in the United States.

In the previews we see patriarchs Gerald and Kitten talking about their mailbox money, which is the checks they receive from the gas company. Here’s a cap from the supertrailer that reveals a check in the amount of $116,680.00.

Check for over a $100,000 called mailbox money on Bayou Billionaires

The about section for the show via CMT partly reads:

In a modern day rags to riches story, Bayou Billionaires tells the story of the Dowdens of Shreveport, La. — a hardworking family of modest means who recently discovered their home sits on the fourth largest deposit of natural gas in the United States.

But how does sitting on the land over all this natural gas convert into mailbox money? Let’s break it down.

First off the rags part is a stretch because Gerald’s company, Dowden Plastering Co., has been open for business a long time. We aren’t talking about grandpa shootin’ at some food here like in The Beverly Hillbillies.

Back to the Haynesville Shale. Instead of trying to explain it poorly, check out this trailer about the discovery in a documentary called Haynesville.

From the doc:

“The economic impact of the Haynesville Shale play for this area is 1.75 trillion dollars. Now that is a gas field.”

Yeah the dude said trillion and according to a piece from The New York Times there was a serious boom back around 2008 when technology evolved that allowed big companies to get to the deposits. Instant millionaires were made when local land owners sold the mineral rights (the right of the owner to exploit, mine, and/or produce any or all of the minerals lying below the surface of the property) to gas companies.

At the time the price of such rights went from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $30,000 an acre. Boom indeed!

Here’s a clip of Gerald breaking it down to Anderson Cooper:

Via Anderson:

The Dowdens purchased their 80 acres of land in 1997 for $160,000. Today, they receive between $10,000 and $12,000 a month, per well. They currently have four wells on their land, but soon they will put in 20 — with each well lasting 16-20 years. The family could accumulate an estimated amount of $57.6 million.

According to The Shreveport Times, The Dowdens actually missed out on the gigantic upfront bonus payments because their 80 acres of land in Frierson, LA. were already held to production by unrelated wells. The Dowdens do get their “mailbox money” like some other fortunate landowners do around DeSoto Parish through royalty payments from producing Haynesville wells in neighboring sections. They’re in what is called a unit which is 640 acres or about one square mile.

In addition, Gerald cashed in even further by selling water from a big pond on his property to the gas and oil companies.

Here’s another video from FOX and Friends featuring Gerald and Kitten as they provide a little more detail about those wonderful once-a-month checks:

All of this is what has made Gerald and Kitten what the locals call shalenaires and pretty darn lucky too!

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  • Marc

    How did the media come up with the term “billionaires” ??

    They media calculated the family’s anticipated earnings at $57,600,000 throughout the course of 20 years ??

    Still a tremendous amount of money, but “billionaire” ??

    • John

      They call it billionaire because technically the gas under them is worth about several billion dollars but they only get about .1 percent

      • shaydie

        Standard gas and oil leases are that the mineral owners get 15-20% (I have land in Wyoming and ours is for 15% of all sales.) .1% would be unbelievably low.

      • Dana Preston

        No such thing as 1%, it’s 15% to 20%. I work in the industry ahd worked in the Shale their in.

    • Bayou and billionaire both start with a ‘b’ which in literary terms falls under the category of alliteration. Which makes for a lot catchier phrase/show title than bayou millionaire. See also-mailbox money :-p

  • Dan

    I’m watching the show right now. Talk about sitting on a gold mine.

  • Nikki

    U should have supported your son in lae

  • Tayler

    These people need to see the film GasLand. Its about the natural gas shales being built up and communities being contaminated.She says they’re not doing anything for the money. They’re dieing, they may not know it yet but they will die because of the process that goes into retrieving the natural gas.

    • Paige

      I agree, the family really does need to see GasLand, as well the rest of the world.

    • wendy

      Ahh it’s refreshing to see smart people making smart comments! Like these two ladies said – watch GASLAND.

      • ramv36

        “Ahh it’s refreshing to see smart people making smart comments!”

        Agreed! Jack N Staci Allan was a refreshing smart comment in this idiocy.

    • I work in the oil and gas fields and the movie GasLand is false in so many ways! It is funny though when people do not know anything about oil and gas fields but seem to know everything by watching a movie. It remindes me of the comercial where the girl is dating a so called french model she found on the web because the web never lies lol!!!

  • Donna Roberts

    Your a Very Lucky Lady, mama, children nearby and room to roam, God Bless!P.S. Can u recommend any land for sale?


    Where is my half of ALL the money Mr. Dowden !!!
    Still waiting. From RIC ROCKER B PAZMINO.
    WEST EL PASO, TX 79912

  • Why don’t they buy a house for the daughter in the shabby trailer …….or send the boyfriend to the dentist.

  • interference

    These people will be cursed the first time someone gets sick from fracking or their water catches fire (and the media & authorities give it any attention). How about we try wind for energy. What a freaking inexpensive, non harmful thought. Stop allowing greedy corps to pillage the earth!

    • Wind energy could not exist without government subsidies. The wind energy kills thousands of birds each day. The only energy that is produces is the global warming coming from the hot air that you release…

    • FireSight

      If wind is so great, why are the nature buffs up in arms over the dead eagles that were hit by the blades of the Wind Mills. Everything has its price. P.S. gas and oil have been fracking since the 1st oil well, and they used some nasty stuff back then and no one got sick…it was cleaned up. We could always cap the law suit amount to just the medical bills to state water/fracking did not cause their ailment. More than likely their lifestyle did.

    • Dana Preston

      Keep drinking that Koolaid.

  • Ms.I just wanttoknow

    Why does she still live in that nastey trailer???

  • Johnny Graz

    Who really gives a f#%k????

  • Scott

    All these people talking about how corrupt oil co are? Yea they might be, but the hard working, honest men who are tryin to provide for their families aren’t corrupt. And also I’d like to see your fancy Lexus run off wind energy.. From: a oil field hand