About Josh Owens
Josh is a TV personality and professional motocross racer, but known best for his work as a regular cast member on Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners”. The blue-eyed distiller, who is one of the show’s youngest cast members, is also considered the most attractive – which has turned him into something of a fan favorite amongst female viewers of the docudrama.
So, how did Josh get into the distilling business? Thanks to his lifelong friendship with former cast member and passionate moonshiner Barney Barnwell, who at the time of his passing, had asked Josh to build an underground still for distilling purposes. Honoring his memory, Josh finished the project, and has been continuing Barney’s legacy ever since.
Around the same time, Josh was approached by producers of “Moonshiners” to become a cast member, and readily accepted; since then, the social media sensation has juggled his filming schedule with fatherhood and bike racing. For now, Josh appears to be single, but on good terms with his daughter’s mother, who prefers to remain anonymous. Previously, he was dating Amber Lyne Gabric, but the relationship fizzled out after a couple of years – however, proving that there’s no bad blood between them, the former couple still share custody of the pet dog they bought in happier times.
Viewers noticed Josh’s lengthy absence at the beginning of the show’s tenth season, and rumors of his arrest began circulating online. As it happens, Josh landed himself in hot water while looking for a new location for his distilling materials. Having set up a moonshining site in his friend Chris’s building, Josh later discovered that Chris wasn’t the real owner – and had a run-in with the landlord.
This isn’t the first time Josh has been in trouble while setting up a distilling site. In the words of a fan, “That poor boy has had to work 10 times as hard as all the other shiners… He just can’t catch a break.” Although Josh does appear to be particularly unlucky, his poor decision-making skills also play a part in his woes – in Season 11, for example, he accidentally burnt his house down while trying to make moonshine from maple sap… and way back in 2017, he also burnt down his trailer and its contents in a similar incident.
One could say that Josh likes to live life on the wild side, but he seems to have slowed down on the racing front after suffering an horrific accident in March 2018. While riding a vintage Harley Davidson, one of the tires blew out, and the bike smashed into a wall. Josh was admitted into Daytona’s Halifax Medical Center, and was diagnosed with a punctured lung, a broken left collarbone and shoulder blade, a torn rotator cuff, and other gruesome injuries.
Who’s coming to Josh’s big birthday bash Moonshiner Josh’s Outlaw Revival on August 20th at East Tennessee Distillery?!?…
To make a bad situation worse, Josh wasn’t on a health insurance plan at the time of the incident, and later claimed to have been discharged before his injuries were appropriately taken care of. Although hospital administrators rebutted Josh’s version of events and denied ever turning patients away, or skimping on their quality of care, it took the TV personality a long time to get back on his feet after the accident. Despite being able to pay his medical bills by selling custom merchandise, Josh suffered from severe back pain and other mobility issues as a result.
Luckily for Josh, there is no evidence proving that he has ever been arrested, and the chances of that happening are much lower now that he’s set up an outdoors moonshining operation in the wilderness, which should make evading the authorities that much easier.
The docudrama series “Moonshiners” is a Magilla Entertainment production that premiered on the Discovery Channel in December 2011. Following the trials and tribulations of moonshine makers in the Appalachian Mountains of South and North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, the show also contains archive footage of the famous bootlegger and moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who seems to have been the inspiration for the series.
The authenticity of the show has been called into question over the years; in March 2012, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) confirmed that they would’ve taken action if any illegal activity was actually taking place in the show. At the same time, the ABC asked producers to clarify, via a disclaimer, that the show was a dramatization, and that there was no illegal liquor production. Even so, Magilla Entertainment insisted that the series is 100% genuine; further, moonshiners have to actually be caught in the act of producing or selling for an arrest and prosecution to be effective.
Although “Moonshiners” draws heavily on Marvin’s life experiences, he never lived to see the show. In 2007, the bootlegger was arrested for illegally distilling liquor, and being in possession of a handgun despite not having a criminal record. Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with cancer, but then sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison – at just 62 years old, Marvin committed suicide to avoid serving his sentence.
Currently, the main cast members of “Moonshiners” are Steven Ray Tickle, Mark Ramsey, Eric Manes, Jim Tom Hendrick, Jeff and Lance Waldroup, and Tim Smith.
Steven resides in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and works in the nearby town of Gretna. Before becoming a moonshiner, Steven – considered by many to be the show’s most colorful character – was a union carpenter living in Washington DC; in 2013, he was reportedly considering running against US Representative Robert Hunt in Virginia’s 5th congressional district, and in October of that year, Steven gave a controversial interview with Washington Secrets in which he called the Affordable Care Act “crap”, somewhat hurting his political aspirations.
If the interview didn’t hurt Steven’s chances, his lengthy criminal record definitely did. In March 2013, the TV personality was arrested for public intoxication. A year later, he was busted again, this time for possession of a sawn-off shotgun. After being convicted of the second offense in February 2016, Steven was given a three-year suspended sentence, but violated probation and had to serve five months behind bars. In more recent news, Steven was also caught driving with a suspended license, after being in an unpleasant car accident.
— Moonshiners (@MoonshinersTV) November 10, 2016
Despite Steven’s legal woes, the docudrama star has been lucky in love. In 2019, he tied the knot with Carol Ann, a bail bondswoman, in an eccentric moonshine-themed wedding. Steven sensationally claims that Carol Ann pursued him for over half a decade before he finally agreed to go on a date with her.
Mark Ramsey was born and raised in East Tennessee, and has made moonshining his life’s work. From finding the perfect technique to concoct unusual flavors, Mark began learning the secrets of the trade when he was a young man, after striking up a friendship with a local moonshine specialist. Mark and his wife, Sally Jane, can often be seen at moonshine-related events, but are notoriously hard to keep up with, due to their lack of social media. In his down-time, Mark also works at Sugarlands Distilling Co., with his business partner Eric.
Eric “Digger” Manes joined the cast in 2014, and has been in over 100 episodes since. The moonshiner was born in Newport, Tennessee, and shares such a close friendship with Mark that they were rumored to be in a relationship. However, Eric has been married to his wife Allison for years; not much is known about her, apart from her entrepreneurial skills and love of travelling.
Jim Tom Hendrick was born in December 1940, and was a recurring cast member from seasons two to seven. Jim Tom began making moonshine when he was just 15 years old, and is one of the most respected names in the trade, currently focused on teaching young distillers everything he knows. Although fans were upset to see Jim Tom leave “Moonshiners”, they also agreed that he deserved a much-needed break after 50 years in the distilling industry.
Jeff and Lance Waldroup left the show in 2019. The father-son duo were quite private individuals who hail from a long line of moonshiners; prior to joining the industry, Jeff worked as a qualified bulldozer operator and a logger. Having garnered plenty of positive publicity from this time in the show, Jeff is reportedly working in his own business.
Although Lance tried his hardest to follow in his father’s footsteps, his lack of business acumen caused him to make questionable decisions – like the time he tried to sell absinthe for triple the going rate, and didn’t understand why nobody was buying it. Even so, he received his father’s constant support, and became a fan favorite long before his untimely death.
Last but not least is Tim Smith, the protagonist of the series and a third-generation moonshiner. The founder of Original Climax Moonshiner turned a family recipe into a seven-figure national brand, and has been reaping the benefits of his hard work ever since. Born and raised in Vancouver, Tim has also started new ventures such as Climax Spirits and Tim Smith Southern Reserve. He also offers guided tours of his distillery, where visitors learn how moonshine and whiskey are made, meet Tim, and get his autograph.
Despite having left the series two years prior, the death of Lance left “Moonshiners” fans understandably devastated. Just 30 years old, he was found dead at his Robbinsville, North Carolina residence in late February 2021. News outlets immediately reported the incident, which was confirmed by his father, who preferred to keep the cause of death private.
However, Lance’s death wasn’t the first in his family. His siblings Lamar and Lindsey also passed away at the heartbreakingly young ages of 20 and 11. Perhaps to dispel internet rumors of Lance dying of an overdose, the Waldroup family confirmed that, although he was a former drug addict, he had stopped abusing substances after a lengthy stay in rehab. They also started a GoFundMe dedicated to Lance’s memorial fund.
The TV star was mourned by his parents, other relatives including both sets of grandparents, and friends, and as well as thousands of fans and casual viewers of “Moonshiners”. His memorial service took place at North Carolina’s Cedar Cliff Baptist Church, and the committal services in a local cemetery. Although Jeff was pestered and harangued for months to give a statement regarding his son’s cause of death, he declined to give any further details.
Although Jeff tried his hardest to protect his son and family’s privacy, TMZ and other outlets would soon fill in the gaps regarding Lance’s death. The TV personality was found unconscious in bed by his mother; the last time his family saw him alive, he was smoking outside the house before going to his room to play videogames.
Lance weighed 580 pounds at the time of his passing, and an autopsy report confirmed his cause of death to be congenital heart failure. Despite his happy-go-lucky onscreen persona, the TV star was a former opioid addict, who also suffered from depression, which is perhaps why netizens believed that he’d died from an accidental overdose.
Although most viewers of “Moonshine” take the show at face value, and don’t mind the staged elements, there is still plenty of speculation about the docudrama’s legitimacy. Back in season one, for example, a law enforcement agent working for Virginia’s ABC sensationally claimed to have been tricked into participating in the show.
An official statement was put out by Virginia ABC shortly afterwards, in which it said: “Virginia ABC agreed to participate in an informative piece documenting the history of moonshine and moonshine investigations in Virginia. Virginia ABC did not participate nor was aware of the false depiction of moonshine manufacturing, distribution, and/or transportation in the filming, and would not have participated in the ‘documentary’ had it known of this portrayal.”
It’s important to note that although the cast members show every step of the moonshine manufacturing process, they don’t make any in front of the cameras. This isn’t the first time Magilla Entertainment has been accused of making misleading shows – in one memorable episode of their series, “Lakefront Bargain Hunt”, a participant named Robin Corbeil chose between three houses… despite having bought one of them two years before filming. “Southie Rules”, another Magilla production, was also scrapped after just one season for being noticeably scripted.
With that said, “Moonshiners” is currently in its 12th season, and maintains solid viewing figures. Although a 13th season has yet to be announced, the series is one of Discovery’s most popular shows amongst its target demographic, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.