Jimmie Allen Opens Up to Kathie Lee Gifford About His Downfall

Jimmie Allen, Kathie Lee Gifford

Heavy/Getty Jimmie Allen, Kathie Lee Gifford

In Jimmie Allen‘s first interview since his personal and professional life imploded in early 2023, the disgraced country star and “American Idol” alum tearfully opened up to former talk show host and longtime friend Kathie Lee Gifford, who thinks he deserves another chance at success.

“I just want the whole world to love you the way I do,” Gifford told Allen in an hour-long video released on April 23, 2024.

Dressed casually at the kitchen table in Gifford’s Nashville home, she and Allen, who frequently dabbed tears from his eyes, discussed his damaged marriage, issues with infidelity, and the mental health crisis he faced — including contemplating suicide — when he was accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women in early 2023.

Kathie Lee Gifford Says She Warned Jimmie Allen to ‘Stay Away From the Women’

Gifford, 70, explained that the first time Allen, 38, appeared on “Today” with her and Hoda Kotb, she knew he was special and would become a star. She subsequently invited him back multiple times, she said, despite producers arguing that he wasn’t a big name yet.

“I have a list of about five people through the years, the decades that I’ve been in this business, where I said to myself, ‘That person’s gonna be a huge, huge star,” Gifford said, adding that she knew Allen “had it — that thing that is so rare, but you know it when you know it.”

Allen did go on to become a major player in country music, with two consecutive number one hits in 2018, according to his web site, and was nominated for the “Best New Artist” Grammy, won the CMA “Best New Artist” award in 2021 and co-hosted the 2022 ACM Awards with Dolly Parton & fellow “Idol” alum Gabby Barrett. He spent that year on the road as the opening act for Carrie Underwood and served as a celebrity mentor during season 20 of “American Idol,” 10 years after he was a Top 40 contestant on the show, per Newsweek.

But weeks after announcing in April that he and his wife Alexis Gale were separating while also expecting their third child, the artist was hit with two sexual harassment lawsuits, including one by his day-to-day manager from his record label, according to Variety. That suit has since been dismissed, according to Billboard, as has Allen’s countersuit for defamation after the two reached a settlement. But amid the whirlwind of accusations, Billboard reported, Allen was dropped by his record label, booking agency, PR firm, and most bookings.

Though Allen has denied allegations of assault and abuse, per E! News, he did admit to cheating on Gale. After a public apology and the October 2023 birth of their child, the couple tried to reconcile. But Allen recently revealed he also fathered two children with another woman while he was separated from Gale, leading them to split again.

“I watched you have hit after hit after hit, sweetheart, “and baby after baby after baby,” Gifford told Allen during their discussion, adding that she remembers telling him as his star rose that “you gotta stay close to Jesus and away from the women ’cause they’re gonna be all after you.”

Jimmie Allen Says He Was ‘Heartbroken’ by Day-to-Day Manager’s Lawsuit

Jimmie Allen, Alexis Gale

US singer Jimmie Allen and his wife Alexis Gale in February 2023

Despite the fame and fortune, Allen told Gifford he “wasn’t happy,” explaining that he was frustrated by creative differences with his record label and felt that he “rushed” into marriage with Gale, whom he met through his cousin and married in 2021, per People, because he felt pressure in the country music industry to do so.

Allen said that, in hindsight, he wishes he had told Gale he wasn’t ready to be faithful to one person or put her above his career, realizing “it would have saved her a lot of heartbreak.”

“When things fell apart, I just fell apart with you,” Gifford told him, and then said that without going into “details” because viewers could Google it all, she wanted him to share what “started to unravel your career.”

After a deep breath and long pause, he said, “Definitely women. But it was searching for instant gratification (from) women that offered it.”

“You know, she was my day-to-day manager so she was with me everywhere I went,” Allen said of the first woman who sued him, identified only as Jane Doe in court records, and Gifford replied, “I know, I knew her.”

“We’d hook up, then we’d stop,” Allen said, claiming that she would get “all sad and upset” if he didn’t invite her to hang out with other friends, so “to make her feel better, we’d start hooking up again.”

Allen said that the affair lasted more than a year, until the fall of 2022, and that he’s since realized “that for me, it was just physical, and for her, it was emotional,” to which Gifford replied, “She wanted to be Mrs. Jimmie Allen.”

When she filed the lawsuit and the news broke, Allen said, “I was pissed off, I was confused and heartbroken. Because this is someone that had became a friend.”

Jimmie Allen Says He Was Contemplating Suicide After First Lawsuit Came Out

Allen said he was “wrong” for not being faithful to Gale, but that he had convinced himself that he was still a good husband despite his infidelities, including some she knew about.

For “the longest time,” Allen told Gifford he thought that “as long as I’m providing (for my family), I’m good.”

When the news broke on May 11 about Jane Doe’s lawsuit and his career fell apart, Allen said he was in a hotel and “felt like my whole world had just collapsed” because he didn’t know how he was going to provide for his kids. Assuming he’d never be able to convince the public he was innocent and realizing that his life insurance “covered suicide,” he tearfully shared that he contemplated that option and was putting “bullets in my gun clip” when a text from a friend appeared that said, “Ending isn’t the answer.”

Allen said he called another friend to come over and he gave him his gun. His mom flew in and then, he said, he began hearing from a variety of country artists — as well as “some of the biggest actors in Hollywood I’ve been fans of for years” — who wanted to check in and let him know they loved him.

After enrolling in an “expensive” counseling program, Allen said his perspective shifted from “God, why is this happening to me?” to “God, what am I supposed to learn?” He also said he went from hating Jane Doe to “kind of feeling bad for her, trying to understand what was going on in her life that she needed to do this.”

Allen said that though he never would have wished for her lawsuit, “it honestly saved my life” by forcing him to step back, realize how miserable he was, and change his ways — including using drugs during the Carrie Underwood tour to “stay awake” and appear happy when he really wasn’t.

Allen did not address the second lawsuit against him that’s still pending. But he told Gifford that, after a great deal of inner work and working on new music without a label, “the last eight months are the happiest I’ve ever been” and that his goal moving forward is “to continue with just being honest with myself, and being honest with everyone else.”

On May 3, he plans to release his first new single since the collapse of his career, called “G.R.I.T.S.”