Megan Wants a Millionaire: A Murder That Changed Reality TV

Back in the early 2000s, reality TV was the next big thing. There was the start of shows like Survivor, The Bachelor, American Idol, and the birth of celebrity dating shows, including Flavor of Love featuring Flavor Flav and Rock of Love with Bret Michaels. It was a turning point in TV.

Megan Hauserman / Ryan Jenkins / Jasmine Fiore, Ryan Jenkins / Megan Hauserman.
Source: YouTube

As these shows became more popular, Megan Hauserman, a former Playboy model, wanted in on the action. She was cast in the second season of Rock of Love and quickly became a fan favorite for her sassy attitude. When she got a chance to have her own dating show, it became a nightmare.

Modeling Wasn’t Working

Megan Hauserman gained little fame as a Playboy model during the early 2000s. The Chicago native was beautiful, but her modeling career wasn’t going anywhere. She had heard about people getting famous from these new reality TV shows and wanted to try her luck by auditioning for Beauty and the Geek.

Megan attends an event.
Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

The model landed a spot on the show’s third season, where she and her partner, Alan Zackheim, had to complete challenges using their different skill sets. Hauserman and Zackheim won the contest and the $250,000 grand prize. The exposure helped get her noticed by other reality show producers.

Made for Reality TV

Hauserman’s bubbly personality and single status helped her score a spot on Season 2 of VH1’s Rock of Love with Bret Michaels. She reportedly discovered the show through a Craigslist ad. During her time on 11 out of 14 episodes, Hauserman became a fan favorite because of her playful attitude.

A portrait of Megan Hauserman.
Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage/Getty Images

Although she didn’t win Michaels’ heart because they didn’t have a strong connection, Hauserman gained tons of fans. She was the perfect type of person for reality TV, and VH1 executives noticed her potential. They decided to cast her in another new reality dating show, and she became a star.

She Loves Money

Hauserman was a contestant on the first season of VH1’s I Love Money, a competition show where former contestants from Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, and I Love New York compete for $250,000. Hauserman appeared on all 14 episodes and was featured at the center of the show’s poster.

A promotional still of Hauserman for the show.
Source: YouTube

When asked what she would do if she won the money, Hauserman said she would help “mentally challenged” dogs. She decided to quit during the finale because she didn’t want to go in front of a jury of former contestants. Hauserman wasn’t well-liked by the contestants, but the fans were wild for her.

Looking for Love

The executives at VH1 knew fans loved Hauserman, so they took the plunge and gave her a reality dating show called Megan Wants a Millionaire. Hauserman was open about wanting to marry a millionaire, so the producers ran with the idea and filled a house with rich men competing for her love.

Megan attends an event.
Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage/Getty Images

In an interview, she said she was looking for a “mature guy that can handle me and doesn’t cry.” Hauserman added that she was taking the competition seriously. Her friends Brandi Cunningham and Cecile Gahr appeared on the show to help her decide on which men to eliminate.

Finding the Men

The casting notice for the show called for “single men of the highest pedigree with a net worth of $1 million or more.” The ads were on radio stations, and executives threw “casting parties” at nightclubs. Eventually, they found 32-year-old real estate developer Ryan Jenkins.

A still of Megan in a still from the reality.
Source: YouTube

They found Jenkins in Las Vegas, and he won the producers over with his arrogant charm. One of the casting producers said, “Ryan Jenkins had one of the best personalities on the planet.” He wasn’t the best-looking guy, but he had charisma and intrigue.

It Started Strong

The first episode started out with a bang. It was filled with plenty of drama and emotion, which was perfect for the ratings. Jenkins received the first credit card, equivalent to a rose if you are a fan of The Bachelor.

A still of Megan having a glass of wine in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

The episodes included challenges, dates, and a credit card ceremony. Those who were eliminated had their credit cards cut. It was like The Bachelor with group and one-on-one dates. Jenkins got the first one-on-one date, and he took Hauserman to a French restaurant in an Aston Martin.

Sudden Cancelation

The show had good ratings, but VH1 shocked fans by canceling the series after only airing three episodes. It was disappointing because everyone wanted to know what would happen and who Hauserman would end up choosing as the winner and her new lover.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

Initially, VH1 stated the show would go on hiatus, giving strong indications that it would resume eventually. Then, all mentions of the program were removed from the network’s website. The remaining and already aired episodes were erased from the internet and video on demand services.

The Reason Shocked Fans

VH1 then announced that they canceled the show because Jenkins was a suspect in the murder of Jasmine Fiore. VH1 said they had conducted thorough background checks on potential cast members for the show by using a private investigator, but Jenkins slipped through the cracks.

A picture of Jasmine Fiore / A portrait of Jenkins.
Jasmine Fiore, Jenkins. Source: YouTube

Fiore’s body was found in a suitcase near a dumpster in Buena Park, California. The 28-year-old model had recently moved to Los Angeles from Las Vegas. Jenkins was officially charged on August 20, and Meghan Wants a Millionaire was canceled the following day.

He Made It to the Finale

Although the episodes didn’t air, Hauserman revealed that Jenkins made it to the finale. After the show was canceled, Hauserman said she had really liked Jenkins and wanted to pick him as the winner. She got his phone number and called him when they weren’t filming.

A portrait of Jenkins.
Source: My Space

Hauserman shared that they were having a phone relationship outside of filming, and she told him, “I’m going to pick you.” When Hauserman told the producers she was going to choose him, they said Jenkins wasn’t likable and was putting on a show for her.

She Didn’t Choose Him

The producers made Hauserman rethink her decision, so she eliminated Jenkins. She said he was upset, and there were only a few days left of filming, so Hauserman called him to smooth things over. She wanted to explain what really happened behind the scenes.

A still of Hauserman in a scene from the show.
Source: YouTube

When Hauserman contacted Jenkins, he said, “I have to tell you something. I was so upset when I left the show. I went to Vegas, and I met a girl. She’s my soulmate, and we got married.” The producers said it made sense because Jenkins was desperate.

His Quick Marriage

Shortly after he finished filming Megan Wants a Millionaire, Jenkins met Fiore at a Las Vegas casino. They knew each other for a mere 48 hours before getting married at The Little Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip. Their marriage had a rough start.

A wedding portrait of Jenkins and Fiore.
Source: YouTube

Considering they had only known each other for two days before getting married, it was no surprise that things were rocky. In June 2009, Jenkins was charged with domestic violence for hitting Fiore on the arm. Travis Heinrich said they were fighting about Fiore kissing him.

No One Liked Them Together

Jenkins was supposed to go on trial for the domestic violence charge that December. The pair reconciled a month later. Fiore’s mom, Lisa Lepore, said the two frequently fought because Jenkins was jealous. He didn’t like that she was friends with her ex-boyfriends.

Fiore and Jenkins take a picture by a swimming pool.
Source: My Space

The pair traveled to San Diego for a poker game when they got back together. Jenkins’s father, Dan Jenkins, said Fiore was his son’s only friend in California. Apparently, she would disappear for days and lie about it to Jenkins. Fiore told her mom that she had their marriage annulled.

He Kept Calling

In August 2009, Ryan repeatedly called Fiore from the Mexico set of I Love Money 3, a show he filmed after Megan Wants a Millionaire. He was determined to win the $250,000 prize. Jenkins told Fiore that he would win and give her the life he always promised.

A photo of Fiore and Jenkins sailing.
Source: My Space

Jenkins would question Fiore, asking where she was and who she was with. Producer Mark Cronin said Jenkins was jealous and suspicious. Cronin said it was part of his storyline on I Love Money 3 because it was funny that he was obsessed with the model he married.

They Traveled to San Diego

Filming for I Love Money 3 wrapped in early August 2009, and Jenkins returned to Fiore. The pair had a trip to San Diego for a poker tournament. They checked into the L’Auberge Hotel in Del Mar on the evening of August 13, 2009.

Jenkins poses, taking a photo of himself.
Source: My Space

The poker tournament was a charity fundraiser for the Carma Foundation. Around 2:30 a.m., surveillance footage captured Jenkins and Fiore leaving the Hilton. They were later seen at the Ivy Hotel, a nightclub in San Diego. The couple decided to go out after the tournament.

She Wasn’t Seen Again

Around 4:30 a.m., Jenkins returned to the L’Auberge Hotel alone. Fiore wasn’t with him, and she was never seen alive again. He then checked out of the hotel around 9 a.m. Two days later, Fiore’s body was found in a suitcase in a dumpster.

A portrait of Jasmine Fiore.
Source: Pinterest

Fiore’s body was badly beaten and crushed inside the suitcase. It was hard to identify her right away because her teeth and fingers had been removed before her naked body was thrown away. She had also been strangled. Authorities said her killer didn’t want her to be identified.

It Took a Few Days

It took about three days to identify Fiore’s body properly. The medical examiner only figured out who she was because of the serial number on her breast implants. According to the coroner, Fiore was already dead when she was stuffed into the suitcase.

A headshot of Jasmine Fiore.
Source: Pinterest

Investigators then found Fiore’s car abandoned in a parking lot in West Hollywood, a mile from the penthouse she shared with Jenkins. They found a significant amount of blood in the car and evidence of hair-pulling. Meanwhile, Jenkins reported Fiore missing on August 15 at 8:55 p.m.

His Side of the Story

When Jenkins filed a missing person’s report, he told authorities that he last saw Fiore on August 14 around 8:30 p.m. at their home in Los Angeles. Jenkins said they went to the poker tournament, and after returning, she dropped him off at home.

A mugshot of Jenkins.
Source: Pinterest

He claimed Fiore left to run errands and never came back. However, that didn’t fit the videos they later found from the Hilton hotel. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to conduct a full investigation before Jenkins vanished and ran off to Canada.

He Was on the Move

The day after Jenkins reported Fiore missing, he packed his things and left their penthouse. He headed towards Nevada to pick up his speedboat and kept moving. The police called him on August 17 to talk about Fiore, but he said he was in Utah.

An image of neon lights on top of a casino.
Photo by Photodisc/Getty Images

Jenkins told the police that he was headed to Canada to resolve some immigration issues. When he got to Canada, Jenkins called his father on August 19. His father told him that Fiore had been found murdered, and they identified the body.

He Was the Only Suspect

As Fiore’s husband and the last person to see her alive, Jenkins was the only suspect. The police were looking for him, and witnesses reported seeing his car towing a boat toward the Canadian border. They later found his car and an empty boat trailer at a marina in Washington.

A headshot of Jenkins.
Source: YouTube

His car’s engine was still warm when police found it. Jenkins had not been formally charged, but Canadian authorities had been alerted to look out for him. The US Coast Guard, US Customs, and Border Protection had boats patrolling the northwest Washington waters looking for Jenkins.

They Filed Charges

On August 19, a man matching his description was seen pulling a boat into a marina in Point Roberts. Jenkins’s stepmother lived in that area. The Canadian authorities announced that Jenkins reportedly crossed the border between August 19 and 20.

An aerial view of boats in a marina.
Jupiter Images/Getty Images

The following day, Jenkins was officially charged with Fiore’s murder, and authorities issued an arrest warrant. Jenkins called his father the same day, but his dad had to hang up. Maybe his father didn’t want the police to trace the call and find his son.

He Found a New Woman

On August 20, Jenkins arrived in a different car with a young blonde woman at the Thunderbird Motel in Hope, British Columbia, Canada. They parked next to the dumpster instead of by the rooms, which the manager found strange. The woman went in to book a room.

A portrait of Jasmine Fiore.
Source: Pinterest

Jenkin was a wanted man, so he made the woman go inside and pay for three nights in cash. When the two went to their room, a couple in the next room said the mystery woman only stayed for 20 minutes before leaving Jenkins behind.

He Was Unrecognizable

The woman was later discovered to be his half-sister, Alena Jenkins. After she left, Jenkins was seen by the motel manager the next morning. He didn’t recognize Jenkins from the pictures on TV because Jenkins looked exhausted and disheveled. The manager didn’t call the police.

A picture of Alana Jenkins.
Alana Jenkins. Source: YouTube

Jenkins was supposed to check out on August 23, but he didn’t. The manager realized that there was little activity in his room over the weekend. They were a bit concerned, so the manager and his nephew decided to check on Jenkins.

He Took His Life

When the manager opened the room, he found Jenkins dead from an apparent suicide. There wasn’t a note or confession letter in the motel, but the police found a document on his computer. Jenkins wrote his last will and testament on August 20, three days earlier.

An exterior shot of the motel.
Photo by Darryl Dyck

Investigators later found a storage unit with Jenkins’s belongings, including a suitcase of clothes in Washington state. The unit had thousands of dollars inside. The police had everything to close the case.

What Really Happened?

After the investigation ended, details of Fiore’s murder were released. They believed Jenkins beat Fiore in the car after the poker tournament and then brought her into their first-floor hotel room through the private patio. There weren’t security cameras by their room.

A portrait of Jasmine Fiore.
Source: Pinterest

Jenkins was seen on other cameras carrying armloads of clothing out of his hotel before he checked out. Investigators believe he emptied his suitcase to put Fiore’s body inside after killing her. They thought he stopped during his drive to Buena Park to cut off her fingers and pull her teeth.

They Got Into a Fight

Jenkins had been violent with Fiore in the past, but no one imagined that he would kill her. However, something clearly made him snap. According to someone who was with the couple that night, Fiore had played poker with a group of friends.

A dated portrait of Fiore at home.
Source: Pinterest

Apparently, Fiore was being rude and kept insulting Jenkins. Everyone at their table felt uncomfortable because of Fiore’s cutting sense of humor. Witnesses said Jenkins got very angry. It must have pushed him over the edge.

His Father Had a Theory

When Fiore’s body was identified, Jenkins’s father immediately tried to call him. Jenkins later returned his call, and his father shared the news. He said Jenkins was in shock and broke down in tears. He assumed his son panicked and drove his boat to Canada.

An image of a cellphone on top of a wooden desk.
Photo by Arun Tomas/Pexels

His dad tried to catch a plane to Vancouver the following morning, but he was detained at the airport. Authorities said they questioned him to figure out if his son had gone to Canada. He last heard from his son when he had to hang up the call at the airport.

His Last Will and Testament

In the document found on Jenkins’s computer, he wrote how much he loved Fiore but also spoke about how frustrated she made him. He revealed he was jealous of her relationships, and it caused him pain. Jenkins expressed negative emotions about alleged infidelity.

A dated picture of Jenkins.
Source: YouTube

The document did not acknowledge or take responsibility for Fiore’s murder. However, he apologized to his family for all the negative attention the case was generating. He had no remorse about Fiore or the pain he caused her family.

He Slipped Through the Cracks

Following VH1’s announcement about Jenkins and the show’s cancelation, it emerged that they didn’t do a thorough enough background check on him. Not only was he charged with domestic violence against Fiore, but he also had an assault charge from two years prior in Canada.

A picture of Megan attending an event.
Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage/Getty Images

The production company for Megan Wants a Millionaire said Jenkins would never have been on the show if they had known about his criminal record. The private investigation company didn’t perform background checks outside the US, so they outsourced the vetting of Jenkins to another company.

They Didn’t Do Their Job

In 2009, Collective Intelligence, the investigation company hired by VH1, sued Straightline, the company hired to vet Jenkins. The suit alleged that Straightline broke their contract by falsely reporting to Collective Intelligence that Jenkins had a clean record in Canada.

A photo of Megan posing for the press.
Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images

Straightline also failed to check Jenkins against the RCMP criminal database, which would have shown that he had assault charges on his record. Collective Intelligence claimed to have lost valuable business from Viacom (the owner of VH1), NBC, and ABC because of their damaged reputation.

Her Mom Defended Her

Fiore’s mom spoke to the press after everything was over. She said the accusations Jenkins made in the document the police found were all false. Lepore explained that everything Jenkins wrote was a lie, and he had been making excuses since the day he met Fiore.

Fiore’s mother speaks during the news broadcast.
Fiore’s mother. Source: NBC

Lepore revealed that Jenkins would use Fiore’s car to bring women back to their shared apartment when Fiore wasn’t home, and he hid her things to make it look like a bachelor pad. She was devastated by what Jenkins did to her daughter.

His Family Went on the Defense

Jenkins’s father, Dan, refuses to believe his son killed Fiore. On August 28, Dan released a statement saying, “If Ryan had done such a thing, would he have filed a missing person’s report? Would he have listened to his mom and driven home to Canada?”

Fiore’s mother cries as she speaks to the camera.
Source: YouTube

His father truly believed that everything Jenkins did following Fiore’s murder wasn’t suspicious. He said he did not believe this “sweet young man” was capable of this crime. However, all the questions Dan asked in his statement made Jenkins look 100 percent guilty.

He Called His Lawyer

Police obtained Jenkins’s phone records. He had made many calls during his drive from Nevada to Washington. He reportedly called his attorney, who advised Jenkins to turn himself in. If Jenkins wasn’t guilty as his father claims, why would he have called a lawyer?

Fiore’s mother cries while being comforted by a friend.
Source: YouTube

If Jenkins wasn’t guilty, why did he flee the country and leave his belongings behind? A person who hadn’t committed a crime wouldn’t have fled because he wouldn’t have needed to run away from his problems. Dan just wanted to defend his son.

Megan Hauserman Was Shocked

When the news broke about Jenkins and Fiore, Hauserman was staying at her friend’s apartment. She was in the shower, and her friend came running in to say Jenkins was on TV and he was suspected of the murder of Fiore.

A portrait of Megan during an event.
Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Hauserman thought that Jenkins would come for her next, so she refused to leave her apartment while he was on the run. Now she tries not to think about everything that happened. Hauserman said she could have been in Fiore’s position if she and Jenkins had ended up in a relationship.

She Moved On

After her TV show abruptly ended, Hauserman went on to appear on a few other reality shows. She had a rough patch following the Jenkins ordeal. In 2010, she was arrested for a DUI after police spotted her swerving between lanes. She was arrested and went to jail for 24 hours.

A mugshot of Megan Hauserman.
Source: Pinterest

However, she finally settled down in 2014 after giving birth to her son. Hauserman also got her dream of marrying a rich guy. Her husband is a professional golfer, Derren Edward. She was happy to move forward after the tragic situation.

It Changed Reality TV

Not only was Megan Wants a Millionaire canceled, but I Love Money 3 was also never aired because Jenkins participated. After the ordeal, the hiring and vetting process for VH1 had to change. Though vetting had been extensive, shows grew more cautious.

A still of Hauserman from the show.
Source: YouTube

VH1 also pivoted away from dating shows and focused more on docuseries, like Fantasia for Real and Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It. Networks are more cautious about the approval process, and vigilance doesn’t stop once filming ends. Producers keep an eye on cast members.

Collective Intelligence’s Reputation Was Crushed

The Jenkins scandal eventually faded out of the press, but Fiore’s murder is always in the back of the minds of many in the industry. Erika Worth of Collective Intelligence said she spent a decade rebuilding the company back into a thriving business.

A dated picture of Fiore in her teens.
Source: Pinterest

Today, forty percent of the company’s business comes from reality TV shows like Project Runway. Worth not only does supplemental searches on reality candidates at her own expense, but she noticed networks and studios have larger budgets to get thorough reports on people.

There Are Some Downsides

While being cautious about the vetting process is important to avoid scandals, Survivor casting producer Jodi Wincheski says they sometimes lose out on “amazing” candidates. She added that producers can’t eliminate every risk no matter how cautious they are. It’s hard to know what people will do.

Jodi poses for the press.
Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic/Getty Images

In 2019, Wincheski learned that the hard way. Producers had to pull contestant Dan Spilio from the game after other cast members complained that he engaged in unwanted touching during his season. It was the first time the show had to eliminate a player for inappropriate behavior.

They Can Never Be Too Careful

VH1 isn’t the only network that dealt with scandals. In 2017, during Big Brother Season 19, contestant Megan Lowder suffered severe anxiety. She decided to leave the show after eight days into filming when the show doctor had to take her to the hospital.

Megan Lowder takes a picture of herself in front of a mirror.
Source: Pinterest

In the casting process, the producers didn’t find out that Lowder, who served in the Navy, had PTSD after a sexual assault. She didn’t tell the producers, and it wasn’t something that would show up on her background check. Lowder didn’t disclose the information so that she could be on the show.

Could Fiore’s Murder Have Been Prevented?

Even if the investigation companies informed producers about Jenkins’s past, it’s hard to know if Fiore would still be alive. Hauserman said, “Who knows? If I didn’t talk to him outside the show, maybe he wouldn’t have been so upset and run off to marry a stranger.”

A picture of Fiore at the beach.
Source: Pinterest

Christopher Catalano, who was a senior casting producer for Megan Wants a Millionaire, remembered thinking there was something off about Jenkins. He said he listens to his gut feelings more today. He would rather be wrong than end up with another Jenkins situation.