Wendy Williams is not one to hold back when there's scandalous celebrity news unfolding—and true to form, she didn't shirk the issue when it was her own life's turn in the hot seat this week.
"It's weird doing Hot Topics and being a hot topic," she said coyly on The Wendy Williams Show Tuesday. "It's some sort of weird story going around the Internet regarding my husband. Now look, I'm a straight shooter, pow-pow. All you've got to do is Google him and you see the story. You can believe what you want, but..." She flashed her massive diamond ring. "I stand by my guy," she continued. "We commuted this morning. The paparazzi was outside, catching me in the cutest negligee...All is well in Hunterville. Don't believe the hype and if there was hype, believe me you—I would let you know!"
Williams quipped at the end, "By the way, I'll be following this story, so I guess I'll have to watch to find out what happens."
The story she felt compelled to address was a report originating with DailyMail TV that her husband of almost 20 years, Kevin Hunter, had been carrying on a decade-long affair and living a double life, even living part-time with Williams in New Jersey and part-time with the other woman, a massage therapist.
Williams obviously felt no need to rehash the details, nor did she explicitly refute the story, point by point. What she did do was encourage inquiring minds not to get into a tizzy over any of it.
"One plus one does not equal three. This woman is a friend of Mr. Hunter but there is no 'there' there," Williams' spokesman Ronn Torossian also said in a statement obtained by E! News.
It's no surprise that the outspoken talk show host, who never met an opinion she didn't mind sharing, wanted to do what she could to brush the story aside (though being the pop culture connoisseur that she is, surely she knows it's liable to come up again). Also understandable is that Williams would deny that she's in the midst of any drama—by her own accounts, she loves her husband and is very committed to him.
But theirs is a complicated bond.
Divorced from her first husband, whom she used a pseudonym for in her memoir Wendy's Got the Heat, Williams married Hunter on Nov. 30, 1997, about four years after they first met. After suffering two miscarriages with previous pregnancies, they welcomed their son, Kevin Hunter Jr., in 2000.
Shortly after Kevin Jr. was born, Williams caught Hunter cheating.
She recalled in a 2013 sit-down with VladTV finding out through "a late-night telephone call and some clandestine whispering," because she wasn't back to work yet and was awake, as usual, being a mom. "When you deliver a baby, the mother doesn't get much sleep anyway. Little Kev might have been 1 month old, like fresh from the hospital."
Her parents happened to be staying with them at the time, to help Williams get the hang of parenting, but she only involved them as far as clarifying what they might have overheard between her and Hunter. "I never went to my mother and talked to her about it, I never talked to my father about it. I'm sure my father wanted to punch Kevin out...but this was a problem that was between me and Kevin...They minded their own business and we've all healed, it's not just me who's healed. My mom and dad played their position [they stayed out of it] and love him like their very own son today. Just love him, respect our union, understand how hard we go for our love, and when they hear passionate talk at our house, they know to mind their own business."
Williams has spoken frankly and written multiple times about the experience—and about forgiving him, which seems to be the less relatable part of the story for more people.
Overhearing some "greezy talk" from the next room, she picked up the phone and heard what she heard, "and I was like, 'Wow, OK, so this is how it's going down'...That was 12 years ago. It has made our marriage—and I know this is cliché, but it's true—it's made our marriage stronger. No, I'm not back to the girl I was before him, because when you get stung like that, you never go back to who you were. Only a fool does." She shrugged.
"But I love him and he loves me, and we addressed it head-on, and it was a mutual decision to reveal this in my 2001 autobiography Wendy's Got the Heat. If you told me when I was 25 years old, or 30 years old, that I would stay around for a cheater, I would've been like, 'you's a liah, you are lying, I've got way too much to offer a man to stick around for him cheating on me.'
"But I did, and I don't regret it. I do think it's a double standard with cheating. I think that you men are just sometimes so neanderthal that you could never put up with your woman cheating, a man putting paws on your meat. But women have got to deal with that fact, many of us, at some point in our lives."
Not only did they stay together, they also went into business together, with Hunter becoming her manager and partner in Wendy Williams Productions.
"People will always, for the rest of my life, throw darts at my situation," Williams once told San Francisco's WiLD 94.9 FM. "They will throw—and we explained this to our son—they will throw them at him, they've thrown them at me in my entire career, my husband. He knew what he was getting involved with, but it takes a special kind of man to be with a 'Wendy Williams.'"
In 2008, a talent booker on The Wendy Williams Experience radio show filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Williams and Hunter, claiming he had aggressively hit on her at work and after hours, physically abused Williams in the office and dominated the workplace—and his wife, according to court documents, "aided and abetted" his behavior. The couple denied her allegations and reportedly the suit was eventually settled out of court.
In 2013, a source told the New York Daily News that Hunter had become a controlling presence on The Wendy Williams Show set, requiring that guest bookings and other key decisions be run by him first, and it was unfathomable to those who knew Williams as the strong force to be reckoned with that she usually is that she was allowing him to act that way.
"Wendy is smart. No one can understand why she does not tell him to f--k off," the insider said. "He is making everyone's lives miserable and is causing problems on an otherwise great show."
Hunter was with Williams when she visited The Howard Stern Show in late 2013 while promoting her latest book, Ask Wendy: Straight-Up Advice for All the Drama in Your Life. She said that she still loved that her husband was also her manager.
(Asked if her husband ever asked her to stop talking about the then nearly 13-year-old cheating story, which she addressed again in that book, she said no. "The 'In Between the Sheets Drama' chapter...and also the 'Man Drama' chapter, is where people are asking about sex, and/or infidelity," so that's where her real-life experience factored in. But her advice was, "If you stay, you have to leave it alone," meaning no bringing it up during fights or driving yourself crazy going through a guy's phone or counting miles on the car.)
2013 wouldn't be the last time rumors of discord on the set made the rounds, meanwhile, and last year LoveBScott.com reported (after several staffers were fired in the wake of Williams catching heat for saying that she didn't believe in having groups like the NAACP because there was no equivalent for white people) that show executives wanted Hunter and his controlling ways off the set as well. Williams was all for letting him go, perhaps personally as well as professionally, a purported insider told the site.
In the meantime, Williams has never referred to herself as anything less than the star of her own show, or otherwise indicated that her working (or personal) relationship with Hunter had changed.
"My main priority, work-wise, is my talk show," Williams said in a 2015 interview with New York Family magazine. "And on the home front, I just want to maintain good health for my husband and my son." Asked what some of the biggest challenges of her job were, she admitted that keeping her work life with Hunter separate from their home life wasn't always easy.
"While my husband and I work together, and I'm the 'star' of the family, I don't like to be that way at home. It's not really a challenge, but it's something that is definitely done purposefully… I don't want to be 'Wendy Williams' to my son."
And in November 2015, she said to the AP about Hunter, "We're not just business partners. We're very romantical."
On The Howard Stern Show again in July (once again, Hunter was there, waiting in the green room), Williams said that the secret to her show's success (The Wendy Williams Show just started its ninth season and over the years has been nominated for five Daytime Emmys) was in the people she employed around her.
"The sauce is in a supportive staff," she said. "My staff, they can call me anytime they want, but I also have another life, and that other life" [is what keeps her sane]. She also does her best not to obsess over ratings—but she does like having alone-time in the company elevator. "Everything else [with her staff] is like, 'come on now,'" she assured Stern, who teased her about acting like a diva.
At the end of the day, "I take a nap, I take care of our son, I make a dinner. This is the stuff...that keeps my mind sane, so when I get up in the morning, I'm normal."
Williams also told Stern that she and her husband still enjoyed visiting strip clubs together (and had been to one just the week prior), but that "stuff" in general kept their marriage spicy. "I'm a fun woman, Howard," she said matter-of-factly.
Earlier this month, she and Hunter vacationed together in Barbados, where paparazzi snapped them strolling on the beach—after which Internet trolls couldn't help but comment on her bikini body.
"I mean, I was on the beach with my husband, we were on a lover's holiday," Williams told BET.com. "And yes I was wearing a bikini. I'm shaped like a capital 'P,'" she laughed. "Yeah, my body's not the baddest. But if you don't want internet trolls, stay off the internet." She also told People, "We were having the time of our lives. We totally thought we were by ourselves."
Meanwhile, DailyMail TV is alleging that Hunter has been in an extramarital relationship since 2006, while also living life with his wife as though everything is normal.
But who knows what really constitutes normal behind closed doors?
Talking to VladTV in 2013, Williams also said that she would never have an open relationship, calling it a "recipe for disaster."
She said that she personally knew four couples (all educated professionals, she noted) who had open relationships. "For the life of me, I would never do that--but you know what I've noticed? Open relationships seemed cute and worked for these couples...and I kind of enjoyed being friends with them...but guess what's happened? As the women have gotten older, 'cause now we're all around 50, they've slowed down on this notion, and the husbands still want it."
Asked if her husband had ever accused her of cheating, she said no, because "I'm always available" (though if she had cheated, she'd take it to the grave). "And just because you're available doesn't mean you don't cheat, but it raises suspicions if you make furtive movements, when you're always going out with your girls at night."
"We do what we can, in terms of human nature, to try to alleviate suspicion of anything like that. And I think one of the things that works for us is 'yeah, we work together,' but we also have lives outside of work, and my life goes over here," she gestured one way, "and his goes over here and that's the only way we can make it where we don't crack each other's skulls. But when my cell phone rings, I pick it up."
She's a "relationship person," Williams said. "But for people who do cheat, unless you are busted, cold busted, take it to your grave. Don't get all Mother Teresa on me and start confessing."
Asked if what she was really saying was that, if Kevin cheated again, she wouldn't want to know about it, Williams replied, "No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, if I cheated on Kevin, I would not tell him. If he, if you cheat on your wife"—she pointed at the interviewer—"don't tell her. If you are busted, then confess."
Seventeen years ago, Kevin Hunter was, in fact, busted. No one is admitting to being busted this time around.