I will always remember where I was when I saw the fateful TMZ headline last Friday: “TOM SANDOVAL & ARIANA MADIX CALL IT QUITS … Allegations He Cheated With Costar Raquel Leviss.” The article alleged that Tom Sandoval, one of the Bravo reality show’s original cast members, had cheated on his girlfriend of nearly a decade, Ariana Madix, with their younger costar Raquel Leviss.
Since then, my life has been cleaved in two: before, when I had other hobbies and interests, and after, when all I do is read about Sandoval and Leviss’s affair. Now I know everything (like that Leviss’s first name was listed as “Rachel” in recent court documents and that the pair allegedly wore matching lightning bolt necklaces as a love symbol). I feel like I’m Cocaine Bear, except the cocaine is VPR gossip and the bear’s cocaine rage is me abandoning my baby to her playmat to mainline Reddit posts as fast as my thumb can scroll.
My desperation for any and all new information has driven me to new lows. Yesterday, I listened to former castmate Kristen Doute’s podcast about the drama (Doute was fired in 2020 for allegedly calling the police on a Black castmate; she also used to date Sandoval in the early 2010s). It’s embarrassing because I am far from a Doute stan, but it gave me the new details I craved, like how exactly Madix discovered the affair. The most intriguing detail, though, was just a throwaway line. At one point in the podcast, Doute disparages her ex and his behavior, citing his age.
“Dude’s almost 41 years old,” Doute said. “You’re gonna bang twentysomething-year-olds and groupies?”
The comment activated the part of my lizard brain that has been storing all these theories and allegations for the past week. Among them, I remembered, was a (totally unverified and uncorroborated) theory that Sandoval has been lying about his age.
When you google Sandoval, he is listed as being born on July 7, 1983, which would make him 39. That’s his age on Famous Birthdays, and it’s what’s listed in the many, many articles written about him since the scandal broke. Old articles written about him also line up with him being born in 1983. A June 2020 GQ feature described him as being 36, a July 2019 article referenced the cast celebrating his 36th birthday, a November 2014 Daily Mail article called him 31, and a November 2021 Page Six article said he was 38.
“Tom Sandoval Turns 33: See Photos from Birthday Party,” Bravo TV wrote in a blog post for the show in 2016. “No one missed the chance to toast Tom, who decided to rock some braids in his hair for the party.”
The Reddit post I had found suggested that he was actually a year older, citing a post from a gossip account, @bravoandcocktails, which claimed Sandoval had graduated from high school in 2000, which would have made him 17 at his high school graduation if he was born in 1982, but a less-typical 16 if he was born in 1983. A local news article from Sandoval’s hometown, St. Louis, also cites his high school graduation year as 2000.
The anonymous poster then claimed that on a Sunday episode of the pop culture podcast Everything Iconic, host and author Danny Pellegrino, who coauthored a cocktail recipe book with Madix and Sandoval, implied Tom wasn't 39.
I looked it up, and two public records databases list his age as 40, with one stating he was born in July 1982. (Sandoval has not responded to a request for comment.)
But this isn’t proof of any intentional lies. All the websites and interviews that cite Sandoval’s age as 39 could simply have been incorrect, using inaccurate information found on the internet as a basis for their reporting. I couldn’t find a clip of Sandoval actually saying his age on the show (it may exist, but 10 seasons is a lot to get through), so it might not be coming from him at all; it’s possible that all of these people have just been wrong about his age for years.
At worst, if he was really born in 1982, Sandoval might know that his age is wrong all over the internet and isn’t correcting it.
It’s such a small difference that it barely matters. Who cares if Sandoval was born in 1982 or 1983? The only reason I can think of is that someone born in July 1983 would have been 29 rather than 30 when Vanderpump Rules premiered on Jan. 7, 2013. For some people, maybe it would have made a difference to be in your 20s, rather than a washed-up 30-year-old.
The most likely reason for any alleged fudging? Probably none at all. But it’s fun to think about. Since the Scandoval, we have seen that Sandoval’s life was a delicate house of cards; he has been accused of lying to his partner and most of his best friends. A rumored tiny difference in age is just another little morsel for fans to dissect. ●