Long before LeeAnne Locken was a major fixture in the Dallas charity scene, she found success on the carnival circuit starting when she was 3 years old. "My mother actually married into the carnival circuit, so I started, because she was already in it, I would spend my summers with my mom," LeeAnne told The Daily Dish (clip above).
It wasn't long after The Real Housewives of Dallas cast member was first exposed to the world of carnivals that she started running her own games, and she was pretty great at it, too. "I started working in the duck pond, and then by the time I was 11, I bought my first stick joint. We call them 'joints' on a carnival. And on the back of a popcorn box for 150 bucks, it was a tip-up the Coke with a fish string and [I] had adults working for me," she said. "From that point on, I bought six to eight more games, rotated them, what I had, and had adults working for me and retired when I was 16."
LeeAnne said she would spend her summers all over the country while traveling the carnival circuit, visiting most of the state fairs. "When you're driving down the road and you see a carnival in a parking lot of a shopping mall, that was me," she said.
Toward the end of her carnival career, she mostly traveled around Texas. "That's really where I got to know so much of Texas, these little towns that we would go to," she told The Daily Dish. "It was awesome. I loved it. I loved every moment of it."
By the time LeeAnne was 16 years old, she said she was "making a tremendous amount of cash every summer." However, working on the carnival circuit also had its challenges. LeeAnne said she was mugged, "beat upside the head," and stalked during her time as a carny.
But it wasn't these scary experiences that made LeeAnne eventually retire from the carnival circuit when she was just a teenager; it was the fact that she felt like she "had conquered it," and she was ready to see what she could excel at next. She said she was also ready to leave the carny lifestyle behind. "Growing up was just really different. And, you know, when you're two-and-a-half to 10, you think it's normal. You look around, and you're like, 'Yeah, everybody's a carny, right?'" she explained. "And then when you turn 10, you start looking around and you're like, 'OK, everybody's not a carny, and by the way, not everybody likes carnies. So maybe you need to make some money and move on.' So that's what I did."
LeeAnne learned many lessons while working in the carnival circuit that have stayed with her to this day. "I learned how to be good with money. I learned how to not be shy. I learned how to assess people really quickly, because on the carnival, you only have so much time when they're walking by to know if they're gonna stay and play or if they're going to keep going," she said. "And the best thing that I've got from the carnival was I've never done an illegal drug ever because I saw so much of it that, I was like, 'That's not pretty.'"
Of course, LeeAnne has been very open about her sharing her life and the lessons she's learned from the carnival circuit on RHOD this season. Her tagline is even, "I grew up a carny kid. Play games with me and you're gonna pay."
LeeAnne said she decided to open up about her past on the show because she wanted viewers to get to know the entire, real her. "When I signed on to do this show, I decided that if I did not allow myself to be completely vulnerable, meaning 100 percent open and honest and forthcoming with everything, then what was the point of doing it?" she explained. "If I don't allow you to know who I am and why I am who I am, if I don't share my past with you, how can you understand why I am who I am today?"
Get to know more about LeeAnne's past by taking a look at these throwback pics, below.