What Prison Was Really Like For Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart’s impressive career has spanned decades, and she made a name for herself as one of the first true “DIY-ers.” The multi-talented entrepreneur wears several hats, including that of a businesswoman, cook, photographer, and an author. Stewart’s fame and net worth grew leaps-and-bounds in 1999, when her company went public, making her the “first self-made female billionaire,” per Harper’s Bazaar. She’s even kept busy in quarantine, starring in the Scotts Miracle-Gro Super Bowl Ad in 2021.

Even though Stewart seems to have it all, the lifestyle guru is known to do chores around her sprawling estate in Bedford, New York. Snowblowing happens to be one of her favorite tasks, despite having several groundskeepers. “I was out there actually for three hours before I realized it was three hours, and I was semi-frozen to death,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “But it was fun.”

Between her camera-ready looks and blue-collar work ethic, it’s no surprise that Stewart has amassed a cult-like following. However, life has not always been rose bouquets and fresh blueberry scones. Stewart shocked the world in 2004, when she served time behind bars.

Prison was no cakewalk for Martha Stewart

A stock sale cover-up landed Martha Stewart at a minimum security prison in West Virginia. Prior to her stay, CBS News reported that the facility was sometimes referred to as “Camp Cupcake,” but insiders revealed that it was anything but. Former inmate Judith Kelly said a strip search greets every inmate upon arrival. As for privacy? There was none. With 125 people crammed into bunk beds in one section of the prison, alone time wasn’t a thing.

Despite having a hack or solution for nearly every household chore, Stewart struggled to acclimate behind bars. She only spent five months at the facility, but it made a lasting impact on her life — and not for the better.

Following her stint, Today reported that Stewart opened up to Katie Couric on the former anchor’s podcast, dishing on the “horrifying experience.” She confessed that nobody aside from murderers should have to go through the anguish that she did. Stewart also shared that nothing good came of her stay, and it didn’t serve as “growth experience,” either. “That you can make lemons out of lemonade? What hurts you makes you stronger? No. None of those adages fit at all,” Stewart said. “It’s a horrible experience. Nothing is good about it, nothing.”

Spending time away from her family was another thing that weighed heavy on Stewart. “Being maligned … especially when one does not feel one deserves such a thing,” she said. “I mean, I was not a bad person.”

What didn't kill Martha Stewart made her stronger

In true Martha Stewart fashion, the mogul didn’t let one setback get the best of her. Her months in house arrest were spent mapping out a comeback. Since then, she’s continued at the helm of her wildly successful company. Stewart has also branched off into a few more off-brand endeavors, including a cooking show with iconic rapper Snoop Dogg.

Snoop and Stewart met in 2008, when he was a guest on The Martha Stuart Show. The two had instant, and in 2016, they teamed up for the popular VH1 series Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. The duo also made an appearance on Comedy Central at The Roast of Justin Bieber in 2015. Stewart used the roast to make light of her prison stint, per USA Today. She gave the pop star advice on how to survive what she jokingly referred to as his “inevitable” stay in the slammer, including a custom DIY tip for the occasion. “The first think you’ll need is a shank. I made mine from a comb and a pack of gum. I’ll show you how later,” she said. “It’s so simple. I found Bubblicious works best and it’s so much fun to say.”

It’s anyone’s guess as to what may be next on Stewart’s list of accomplishments but one thing is for sure — we’ll all be watching.

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