Jeannie Mai‘s mother has been married for eight years — and The Real host only recently found out.
What’s more, the man the star had called ‘Uncle’ for over a decade is actually her stepfather
“My mom got married without telling us kids for years,” Mai, 40, said on Wednesday’s episode of The Real. “‘Uncle Ted’ has been my stepfather for 15 years. Eight years married, eight years married, sorry. But I found out just a year and a half ago.”
“My mom’s mentality is very different,” she said, on a clip obtained by OK! magazine. “I’m Americanized. And I’m not going to think bad thoughts about my mom because she gave birth to me. And she made choices. You never know what she was going through.”
The talk show host and YouTuber first revealed the news on her Hello Hunnay channel in August, telling her subscribers that although her mom, Olivia Mai, and “Uncle Ted” have been in a relationship for 15 years, she only found out about their marriage when she hosted both of them at her Los Angeles home and saw Ted sneak into her mother’s bedroom.
In an episode featuring Ted and Olivia, the couple explained that they met online in a chat room for Vietnamese singles. Olivia said that she was initially looking for someone to set up her sister with, as her sister lives in Dallas, Texas, and Ted lives in Houston.
But when Ted and Olivia’s sister met, sparks didn’t fly, and he and Olivia kept chatting.
“How did you guys fall for each other?” Jeannie asked the couple.
“Well, you know, we talked probably, three or four months before we ever met,” Ted said, adding that their conversations would often be hours long. “It lasted until like, two or three o’clock in the morning on the weekend.”
Olivia said that on her first trip to visit him in Houston, Ted introduced her to his family, and that’s when she knew he was special.
“He introduced me to his family, to his mother, that’s why he respects me, that’s why I like him so much, okay?” Olivia said. “That’s a good thing about him.”
Jeannie asked Ted if introducing Olivia to his family was “forward,” but he explained that he really liked her so he didn’t think so.
But after the trip, Olivia said she stopped taking Ted’s calls — until he surprised her in California one day with a ring.
Jeannie then explained that at family events, her mom would introduce Ted as just a family friend.
“At family parties, or at like, you know, holidays, I would meet Uncle Ted, but Mamma Mai would bring him along with other friends, male and female, and say, ‘this is Uncle Ted.’ So I took it like, he’s a family friend,” Jeannie said. “Like every Chinese New Year, Uncle Ted was there, he gave us money.”
Ted even attended Jeannie’s wedding to ex-husband Freddy Harteis, joking that his financial gift ended up paying for her divorce.
“Uncle Ted was always that fun family member that was just a part of our family,” Jeannie said.
When Jeannie asked why they didn’t tell any of their kids right away, Ted said, “we don’t feel it’s important… I don’t feel like it’s needed. They never ask.”
“The reason I would say, because you keep trying to make your father and me go back all the time,” Olivia told her daughter. “I have three kids, and all of them love their father so much, so I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”
But how would Olivia act if Jeannie were to get secretly married? “I’d kill you,” she told her daughter.