Things You Might Not Know About HGTV Star Tarek El MoussaPublished on February 23, 2017. Updated February 24, 2020
Tarek and Christina El Moussa rose to fame with the success of their HGTV show, Flip or Flop. Their careers skyrocketed in the summer of 2013 as their reality show became one of the highest-rated shows on the network. The two were once again unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight when news of their split went public in December 2016. Since it’s his birthday, here’s a look at 9 things you probably didn’t know about Tarek El Moussa:
9. He Started Young
One of the most impressive things about Tarek is that he’s incredibly hardworking and driven. He’s only 36 and has already amassed quite a bit of fortune and fame, and it’s because he started so young! He got his real estate license when he was only 21 and started working right away in Orange County; this is where he met his now-estranged wife and business partner, Christina! Tarek and Christina started their own real-estate agency called The El Moussa Group in Orange County. According to TMZ, since the couple split up, Tarek will be running the real estate company on his own with Sotheby’s. The company is now called Tarek & Associates.
8. Suffered Financial Issues
Just like many other Americans in 2008, Tarek and Christina El Moussa went through a pretty tough time when the market crashed. They lost almost everything. In a sweet tribute to Christina on Mother’s Day in 2016, Tarek wrote, “We did not know how to pay our bills. I will never forget going to Subway to split 5$ footlongs because that is all we could afford.” Their real estate business went belly up during the market crash, so they sold their home and opted for a rental (with a roommate). In order to save their real estate business, they started buying cheap foreclosed homes in Southern California and taught themselves how to flip them for a profit.
7. Flipping Houses
Tarek’s background is in real estate, not construction, but he got into the business of flipping homes after the market crashed and he and Christina were forced to explore other options with their business. “When I first started the company, we didn’t have any money. We literally put a business plan together and pitched it to family and friends and everyone said we are crazy. They didn’t want to give us any money because we were kids,” said Tarek. Fortunately, his friend, Pete De Best did take them seriously and when Tarek asked if he would help him flip houses, he agreed. The next day, Tarek and Pete went to an auction, bought their first house and made a profit of $34,000.
6. Thrill of the Chase
One of the reasons Tarek loves flipping houses isn’t because he gets to be on television or anything like that, it’s because he gets a “natural high” from the thrill of the chase. “I enjoy the chase of the properties, the rush you get when you find them, the design and transformation, and the profit at the end. There are many stressful steps in between with a lot of gambling but this is the best way I can simplify it,” said Tarek.
5. Auditioned on a Whim
Tarek and Christina’s rags to riches story is what laid the ground work for them getting their own show, but he admits it was never something they set out do to. “Being on TV is the last thing we ever imagined doing in our lives. I always tried new ways to grow our business and one night I said, ‘Honey, I am going to get us a TV show,’ kind of as a joke. She laughed and told me to go to bed. I looked online and randomly found a casting,” he said in an interview with Realty411. He went through the process of emailing the production company and made an audition tape. A year later, they were offered a weekly time slot with their own show that would be about buying and selling homes in Southern California.
4. Pilot License
Tarek revealed to David Bromstad in an interview with HGTV that not only is he a successful real estate agent and now a reality star, he’s also a pilot! He got his pilot license and once convinced Christina to fly in a plane with him while he was learning. “I got her in like a 1950s plane and there was like a wind storm, but I told her everything will be OK. We got up there and the guy told me to make a left turn. I pull (the yoke) and we went straight up. All of a sudden everything starts beeping and the plan is stalling because I was going up too steep…Yeah, I almost killed her,” he joked.
3. Diagnosed by a Fan
In 2013 Tarek El Moussa shared the devastating news that he had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. What’s so amazing about his story is that he was actually diagnosed by a fan. While watching reruns of Flip or Flop, registered nurse, Ryan Read, wrote to the production company about a lump on Tarek’s neck. Read was concerned and urged him to seek medical attention. The note said: “This is not a joke. I’m a registered nurse. I’ve been watching Flip or Flop. I noticed that the host Tarek has a large nodule on his thyroid, and he needs to have it checked out.” He had previously visited the doctor about the lump and was told it was nothing, but after he received the note he sought out a second opinion. A biopsy revealed the lump was cancerous, so he had his entire thyroid removed. Unfortunately the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, but not past his neck so he underwent radioactive iodine therapy.
2. Testicular Cancer
Fans of Flip or Flop knew that Tarek had battled thyroid cancer, but many did not know he was also diagnosed with testicular cancer back in 2013 at the same time. He only went public with the news after he appeared on The Today Show on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Both cancers are now in remission, but he admits he was once terrified he was going to die. He felt the need to come forward with his second diagnosis because his stepfather was battling testicular cancer and he wanted to raise awareness. “I literally thought I was going to die. I know that when I came out with thyroid cancer, a lot of people also found out they had thyroid cancer. I felt like it’s something I had to do,” he said.
1. Dated the Nanny
According to TMZ, Tarek began dating his family’s nanny, Alyssa Logan, after he and his estranged wife, Christina, split. He began developing feelings for her while she was working for him, but he fired her in September before they officially started dating. Logan was only 23, while Tarek was 35. Their relationship didn’t last long as they were reportedly broken up by October after being seen together at a Florida Georgia Line concert. Tarek and Christina split up in May after seven years of marriage, but didn’t go public with their split until December. Tarek officially filed for divorce on Jan. 9, and she only responded to his filing in August 2017.