Think of a swamp. Pinpoint the most dangerous animal in those waters that comes to mind. Now imagine making your living wrestling and hunting these creatures. Yes, R.J. Molinere, now a grandfather, makes his living in the swamps of Louisiana hunting alligators. Yet, Molinere is not just any grandfather – raised by his mother, and he holds 19 titles in arm wrestling, ranging from national to international competitions. Faced with this combination of unlikely components, it is unsurprising that History Channel was eager to feature him in their docuseries, “Swamp People”.
Early Life and Family
Roland J Molinere II was born on 21 September 1961, in Louisiana, USA. RJ has a brother, named Al, 11-years younger, and an older sister name Deanna.
While RJ has never mentioned his mother by name, he reveals that it was she who taught him to hunt alligators in 1979. Being decedents of the Houma, a Native American tribe, and so are fluent in Houma Cajun French. His mother was well versed in their hunting-and-gathering lifestyle that she passed on to her sons, Al and RJ, who then started hunting alligators together as teenagers.
Arm Wrestling Star
RJ Molinere has an impressive string of accolades when it comes to arm wrestling. This seems to be a common family trait, as his son has won awards for his activities in the boxing ring. Molinere has won the World Arm-wrestling Championship four times, the Arnold Classic Arm-wrestling Championship twice, the National Championship an astonishing 11 times, and is a twice over GNC Champion.
However, his path has not always been easy, and his career was almost ended when he was in a car wreck in 2003. This was just after he had won the World Championship in Canada, and not realizing just how badly he had been injured, he attempted to participate in the Arnold Classic Championship, but his injuries played up and his arm was completely useless. RJ described it to Houma Today as “They just played with me. There was nothing there.” Fortunately for RJ, his son Jay Paul was there to help him with the recovery process. Between the two of them, and a home-crafted recovery routine, he was able to get back in shape and ready to compete again.
If there is one thing that History Channel appreciates, it is unconventional livelihoods steeped in tradition.
When RJ was first approached to appear on the show “Swamp People”, he was unable to accept the offer as they required him to have a partner to take hunting. Just in time for the second season, his son Jay Paul Molinere left college, and was able to join his father in the swamp.
“Swamp People premiered on 22 August 2010, and its popularity has assured the show’s prosperity. Drawing 3.1 million viewers for the premiere episode, the docuseries made history when it was viewed by 5.5 million people for the finale episode of the second season, and today remains among the popular History Channel series. It inevitably drew some controversy from animal lovers, who accused the show of propagating animal cruelty and slaughter as a sport.
They were unsuccessful in stopping the show, and it must be acknowledged that the hunting of alligators as portrayed in the series is not a sport, but an act of survival and livelihood, and is highly regulated.
The show follows several teams of alligator hunters during the brief hunting season, which runs for only 30 days every year. In accordance with the law, each hunting team is issued with a limited number of tags – each tag representing a single alligator that they may kill. Once they’ve used up those tags, they may not hunt for the rest of the season. These thirty days are the only days in the year that they may hunt, and are often full of tension as this is when they need to make enough of a profit to last them an entire year.
When asked about the scariest thing he had ever experienced while hunting, RJ replied, tongue-in-cheek, “Probably the scariest thing I remember was thinking….how are we gonna get this 13 and a half foot alligator in this 12-foot boat.” Fans were disappointed when RJ and his son left the show after its 10th season in 2014, amid much controversy regarding the firing of most of the original cast.
RJ Molinere’s days on “Swamp People” may be over, but his association with it is not. His appearance in the show earned him international fame, and he has a large follower base on social media. Molinere has utilized his fame to start new business opportunities, such as guided tours of the swamp and guest appearances. He and his son continue to hunt alligators, whose meat is in high demand in the catering industry.
By all appearances, RJ does not have much of a relationship with his siblings. Although we do know that his brother coached his son in boxing, the only time they have been seen to interact is during an episode of “Swamp People”. This is not to say that RJ is lonely by any means.
RJ is married to Stacy Emma, who is a practicing nurse. He has two daughters with her, Natasha, and Brittany, who are also nurses, as well as a son named Roland Molinere III (Jay Paul Molinere) who often accompanies his father on the job. Jay Paul is also in a relationship with his long-time girlfriend, Ashleigh Price with whom he has two children – Jayden and A’niyiah Nikole – making RJ a proud grandfather.
Run-in with the Law
In 2013, RJ and Jay Paul Molinere were a subject of much controversy when they were arrested on charges of aggravated assault. While the public was never informed of the outcome of the situation, it was alleged that the two had ganged up against a 24-year-old man, who called the police and claimed that there had been a verbal altercation on the highway, that escalated into a fight. The fight went all the way up to the mini-mart where it was alleged that the two had beaten the man over the head with a beer bottle. Initially unable to reach the Molineres, the two turned themselves in once they became aware that there was a warrant out for their arrest. They were charged and booked but were released on a bail of $1,000 each. It is unknown if they were acquitted of these charges.
The Houma Native-American heritage that the Molinere family is so proud of is clear in RJ’s features, more so than in the rest of his family. With a dark tan complexion and a fit and muscular physique, RJ looks vastly different from most other men in his age group. RJ has pale brown hair, which is mainly kept short, with the exception of a long, slim braid of which he is incredibly proud. RJ is 5ft 8ins (1.76m) tall and is 160lbs (72kgs) of almost pure muscle.
Net Worth and Salary
In the wake of the show, RJ was forced to find new sources of income. A determined and hardworking man, he has never abandoned his craft and heritage, and as of mid-2020, has a net worth of $800,000.