John Lewis and Richard Clark, the plaintiffs in the fraud lawsuit filed against Fixer Upper star Chip Gaines, speak out for the first time about the claims in an In Touch world-exclusive interview.

“We have been attempting to resolve this matter privately for many months,” Lewis, who along with Clark filed the suit in Waco, Texas, on April 26, reveals. “There were multiple communications between my attorney and Chip’s attorney and multiple attempts to get this resolved. I wouldn’t say that [Chip] absolutely ignored it, but we never got into a position where there was any realistic chance of resolving it without filing the lawsuit.”

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On April 28, Chip spoke out in a tweet, “I’ve had the same cell number for 15 years. Same e-mail for 20 years. No one called or emailed? Four years later ‘friends’ reach out via lawsuit — hum.”

chip joanna gaines getty images

But Lewis responds that Chip has known about the dispute since late 2016. An email about the lawsuit “was sent by my lawyer to his email that he has had for 20 years.”

John Lewis and Richard Clark claim Chip manipulated them into selling him their 66 percent share of Magnolia Realty for $5,000 in 2013, hiding the fact that just days before, Chip had made a deal with HGTV to air the first episode of Fixer Upper. The show went on to become the network’s top-rated series.

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“The bottom line is we owned a business together. We had been friends for over a decade. The choice could have been when he had the knowledge that there was a success on the horizon that he could have allowed his friend and business partner to enjoy that future success with him, and he chose not to do so,” he explains.

“I knew they were filming a pilot. I had no idea that it was going to be aired on any network, let alone HGTV, and didn’t know about that until two days after we signed over the company to Chip. I trusted what Chip was telling me — the business we owned together had no value.”

Chip’s lawyer, Jordan Mayfield, has fired back telling In Touch, “We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless,” adding that “it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna.”

But Lewis says he’s the one who has been taken advantage of.

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“I’m very happy for their success,” he says. “The only thing I’m unhappy about is being tricked into selling my portion of the company.”

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