IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The 'Vanderpump Rules' cheating scandal that broke the internet, explained

Here is a timeline of the cheating scandal involving "Vanderpump Rules" stars Ariana Madix, Tom Sandoval and Rachel Leviss, explained by expert fans.

Last spring, whether you watch "Vanderpump Rules" or not, your social media feed was likely flooded with headlines about cheating allegations involving three of the show's stars.

On March 3, 2023, longtime partners Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix confirmed they broke up after nine years together. The announcement came amid rumors that Sandoval cheated on Madix with their "Vanderpump" co-star Rachel Leviss, who then went by Raquel.

In the wake of the drama, Bravo turned the cameras back on, meaning the scandal, since dubbed "Scandoval," has played out on air — and now, in courtrooms, as Leviss filed a lawsuit against her former co-stars, alleging new details about the affair and how she was treated by Sandoval, Madix and Bravo, the network that airs the show.

The term is a mash-up of the words “scandal” and “Sandoval.” In the Season 10 finale, which aired May 17, viewers witnessed the explosive confrontation between Madix and her longtime partner.

The Bravo series is currently airing Season 11. In the wake of Leviss' lawsuit, filed Feb. 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court, here's a look back at the cheating scandal.

Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix at the season 10 premiere party of "Vanderpump Rules."
Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix.Todd Williamson / Bravo via Getty Images

Hold on: What is 'Vanderpump Rules'?

"Vanderpump Rules" is a Bravo reality show initially centered around the staff of Sur, a restaurant in Los Angeles owned by former "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Lisa Vanderpump. Ten years into the show, the original cast members are full-fledged reality stars, and most have moved on from Sur or the show or both.

On the air since 2013, this marked the first spinoff for "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

(Bravo is owned by NBCUniversal, TODAY's parent company.)

Below is a complete timeline of the 'Vanderpump Rules' alleged cheating scandal

2013: Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix begin dating

Tom Sandoval is an original “Vanderpump Rules” cast member, joining at the very beginning of the Bravo series in January 2012. Later that year, Madix signed on to the show. She started appearing in the series’s second season, which aired in November 2013.

The couple confirmed that they were dating during the Season Two reunion special.

Interestingly, their relationship began amid cheating allegations, as “Vanderpump Rules Party Podcast” hosts Hollie Bohorquez and Sarah Cee pointed out to in a 2023 interview. This part of the saga begins at the show’s inception, when Sandoval was dating a different cast member, Kristen Doute.

"The twist here is that Sandoval was cheated on himself. In his relationship with co-star Kristen Doute (before Ariana), Kristen cheated on Sandoval ... with Jax (Taylor, Sandoval’s best friend), in the living room of the apartment Sandoval and Kristen shared together while Sandoval was asleep in the bedroom," the hosts told over email.

After they split, Sandoval and Madix started dating. During the Season Two “VPR” reunion, Sandoval confirmed that he kissed Madix before he and Doute broke up.

2016: Rachel Leviss joins 'Vanderpump Rules'

In Season Five, Leviss, a formal pageant queen, made her first appearance on "Vanderpump Rules" as the girlfriend of cast member James Kennedy. They announced their engagement in May 2021 but broke up a few months later. Kennedy also used to date Kristen Doute, Sandoval's ex.

2019: Sandoval reveals that Madix hooked up with a fellow co-star

In a steady relationship for years, Sandoval and Madix weren't the locus of drama on the show (well, until now). As "Vanderpump Rules" went on, though, more about their intimate life together emerged.

In a 2019 episode of "VPR," Sandoval told his friends that Madix hooked up with co-star Lala Kent while the three were in his car together.

Per a People recap of the episode, Madix wasn't thrilled that her boyfriend was discussing her sexuality without her permission.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of what happened between Lala and I, but I do feel like Tom betrayed my trust by telling this story to his guy friends. My sexuality is not something that is meant to sound cool to a bunch of dudes," she said in a confessional interview.

2021: Madix shares her thoughts on the idea of marrying Sandoval

During a 2021 appearance “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” Madix had a lukewarm response when host Andy Cohen asked if she would ever marry her longtime beau.

“The big thing for me is that I’m not really into the whole fanfare of it. It’s really more about the two people," she said. "So if it was just about us, I honestly think I would be more open to it. I just don’t want it to be like a big thing about having a giant wedding and a bachelorette party and all that bulls---," she said.

Summer 2022: Leviss becomes involved with another 'VPR' star, Tom Schwartz

Season 10 of "Vanderpump Rules" was primarily filmed in the summer of 2022. After Leviss' breakup with her ex-fiancé, Kennedy, she went on dates with Sur manager Peter Madrigal, as depicted in the season.

She also grew closer to Tom — Tom Schwartz that is.

Schwartz, Sandoval's best friend and business partner, went through his own breakup. Schwartz and Katie Maloney announced that they were splitting up after 12 years together in March 2022.

But before Schwartz and Maloney finalized their divorce in the fall, Schwartz and Leviss kissed at Scheana Shay's wedding in August.

Leviss' lawsuit revealed that she first got with Sandoval "on or about Aug. 10, 2022."

"The affair continued apace as Sandoval’s relationship with Madix further deteriorated," it states.

While "purportedly secret," Leviss alleges the affair was "well-known to many cast members and suspected by others."

"Indeed, in December of 2022, Madix scolded Leviss and Sandoval for being handsy in public, admonishing them to save the story for Season 11," the lawsuit states. has contacted Madix and Sandoval for comment on the lawsuit.

January 2023: Sandoval and Madix dodge rumors of an open relationship

In January 2023, Bravo released a trailer for Season 10 of "Vanderpump Rules" which foreshadowed rumors of an open relationship for Sandoval and Madix.

Per People, Madix took to Twitter to squash the idea, writing, "We dont have an open relationship. i’m really not that cool. thought that was obvious." Her Twitter account has since been deleted.

The show revealed that the rumors originated when Maloney, Madix's business partner, said that the couple doesn't have "a lot of rules," which Kennedy later interpreted as an implication of Madix and Sandoval having an "open relationship."

The rumors reignited during filming when it was revealed that Leviss spent the night at Sandoval's house while Madix was out of town.

But Madix shut down the allegations and appeared unfazed by news of the sleepover. Instead, she attributed the gossip to Maloney and her feud with Leviss over Schwartz.

In a confessional, Madix said that while she understands Maloney's dislike, Leviss is still her friend.

“I get it, Katie hates Raquel, but Raquel is my friend and she’s someone that is kind and sweet and loyal and just a delight since the day I met her,” Madix said in Episode 13.

Around March 1, 2023: Madix learns of the affair

The Season 10 finale of "Vanderpump Rules" followed the aftermath of the affair. Madix said she learned of the affair after finding a video of Sandoval and Leviss.

Leviss' lawsuit corroborates this, as well. According to the court documents, Sandoval was performing with his cover band and his phone fell out of pocket. Madix received it and "found sexually explicit videos of Leviss."

Leviss alleges these videos were "recorded by Sandoval without her knowledge or consent in or around February 2023."

After obtaining the videos, Madix "distributed them and/or showed them to others without Leviss’s knowledge or consent." These allegations form the basis of Leviss' lawsuit, which accuses Sandoval of recording and Madix of distributing explicit videos of her.

The 19-page lawsuit in all includes allegations of eavesdropping, revenge porn, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

March 2023: Sandoval and Madix announce their split

Months after filming Season 10 wrapped, Sandoval confirmed the affair and his split with Madix on Instagram. He asked his followers to be respectful to the staff at his restaurants, TomTom and Schwartz & Sandy’s.

“Hey, I fully understand and deserve ur anger & disappointment towards me, but please leave Schwartz my friends and family out of this situation,” he wrote. “Schwartz specifically only found out about this very recently, and most definitely did not condone my actions. This was a very personal thing.”

On March 8, Sandoval issued a lengthier apology statement on Instagram.

“I want to first and foremost apologize to everyone I’ve hurt through this process. Most of all, I want to apologize to Ariana. I made mistakes, I was selfish, and made reckless decisions that hurt somebody I love. No one deserves to feel that pain so traumatically and publicly.”

“I can only imagine how devastating this has been for Ariana and everyone around us,” he continued. “I feel really horrible about that. My biggest regret is that I dishonored Ariana. I never meant to disappoint so many people, including our loving families and friends.”

March 2023: Leviss speaks out too

Leviss commented on the Scandoval rumors in a statement shared with ET on March 8, the same day Sandoval posted his apology.

“I want to apologize for my actions and my choices foremost to Ariana, and to my friends and the fans so invested in our relationships. There is no excuse, I am not a victim and I must own my actions and I deeply regret hurting Ariana,” she wrote.

“I am reflecting on my choices, speaking to a counselor and I am learning things about myself such as my patterns of codependency and addiction to being and feeling loved,” she continued.

March 2023: Bravo addressed the rumors on social media, confirming the story would unfold on the show

Following the news about Sandoval and Madix's breakup, Bravo said the story would continue in future episodes in a tweet that read, "We have resumed filming on #PumpRules and this story will be unfolding on camera."

March 16, 2023: Madix breaks her silence

Madix issued a strong statement on social media warning "what doesn't killed me better run" in the wake of her breakup with Sandoval.

“Hi. where to begin?” Madix started her Instagram post. “I want to express my most sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support I have received from friends, family, and people I’ve never even met in the last two weeks. When I have felt like I couldn’t even stand, you all have given me the strength to continue and seen me through my darkest hours.”

“To say I have been devastated and broken is an understatement,” she continued. “However, I know that I am not in this alone. So many of my closest friends are also grieving this loss right now and reeling from this betrayal on so many levels. I am so f----ing lucky to have the best support system in the world and I hope I can repay every single person for the love you have shown me.”

March 23, 2023: 'Vanderpump Rules' cast films a 'confrontational' reunion special

Just a few weeks after news broke of Madix and Sandoval's split, the cast filmed the Season 10 reunion on March 23.

At the event, Madix wore a fiery red two-piece ensemble that host Andy Cohen described as a "revenge dress." On his podcast, Cohen described the event as a "real reckoning."

A trailer released for the reunion, which aired May 24, showed Madix confronting and Leviss, with passionate support from Kennedy and Kent.

April 2023: Leviss enters a facility for mental health treatment

A representative for Leviss confirmed to April 14 that the reality star checked into a facility to receive treatment for mental health counseling.

Leviss made this decision with her family months before news of Scandoval broke, according to her rep at the time. She intended to voluntarily enter the facility before the Season 10 reunion but stayed to “finish her filming commitment,” the representative said in an email to

The rep also denied reports that Leviss was at a spa alongside Sandoval in the wake of the cheating scandal.

According to Leviss' 2024 lawsuit, she decided to "check herself into a mental health facility" by March 10 — days after news of the affair broke.

She "reluctantly agreed" to wait to film the Season 10 reunion on March 23, requesting first a mental health professional then her publicist to be on set.

"She also feared the legal implications of refusing to appear," due to the terms of her contract, the lawsuit states.

May 2023: Madix says she and Sandoval don't 'interact on any level'

During a May 17 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” Madix gave fans an update on her relationship with Sandoval and said they "do not interact on any level."

Madix said that if they have to speak to each other for any reason, then they would enlist the help of her friend Logan or Tom’s assistant to pass along word to the other.

As for their shared home, Madix said they plan on selling the house.

“I want my money out of that house as quickly as possible, and I want to move on,” she said.

May 2023: The Season 10 finale airs

The Season 10 “Vanderpump Rules” finale, which aired in May 17, shows the explosive fight Madix and Sandoval had March 3, two days after Madix learned about her boyfriend’s infidelity.

Madix said she discovered the affair by watching a FaceTime call between Leviss and Sandoval. Leviss, in August, told Bravo alum Bethenny Frankel on her podcast “Just B With Bethenny Frankel“ that the FaceTime call was recorded without her consent.

“I was ride or f------ die for you, and I had her back as well and the fact that she’s continued to smile in my face while also smiling on FaceTime with you is one of the most God awful disgusting things I’ve ever heard of,” Madix told Sandoval.

When Sandoval said he was “sorry” Madix had to see that video, she offers up a venomous response.

“Why don’t you be sorry you ever f------ did it? I regret every moment that I stood up for you, defended you, supported you. You’re worth nothing and I want you to feel that deep in your soul,” she said.

“I want you to hear those words coming from the mouth of the woman that f------ stood by you and loved you and was ready to build the rest of my life around you,” she continued. “Hear my words and know that that’s how I feel about you. I regret ever loving you.”

Meanwhile, Sandoval and Leviss exchange “I love yous” during the finale.

Leviss asked Sandoval how his family felt about their tryst. She thought he said, “I love you,” so she responded, “I love you too.”

“I said, ‘They love you,’” he clarified. “But I love you too.”

“I know we always said we wouldn’t f------ do this if we didn’t think it was worth it, just thinking that it imploded, this is not ideal, at all,” she continued.

May 2023: Madix confronts Sandoval at ‘Vanderpump Rules’ reunion, and Leviss tells her side of the story

While filming the “Vanderpump Rules” Season 10 reunion, Madix got the opportunity to speak to Sandoval about his affair — and she didn’t mince words.

“I can’t think of two worse people, I can’t,” she said.

Leviss, meanwhile, skipped the first episode of the reunion, but had a one-on-one with host Cohen in the second.

Leviss said she and Sandoval got closer “started getting more romantic” after a girls’ trip she went on with other co-stars.

“He made me feel heard and seen, and those were feelings that I haven’t really felt, maybe ever,” she said.

Leviss said she sensed that Madix may have been “in denial” about the affair since it took her a while to pick up on the warning signs.

“She never pressed about it, she never confronted me about it. From what I know, what Tom has told me, she didn’t question him too much about it (and) just believed at face value what he would tell her,” she said.

In response, Cohen said it sounded like she was “blaming” Madix. Leviss said, “At the time, I think that was my mindset, and now I know that she really did want to know and (what we did) was very deceitful. I’m very ashamed of it.”

Leviss apologized to Madix directly in the third reunion episode. “It was a mistake,” she said.

August 2023: Leviss says she will not return to reality TV

Despite Madix saying she would return for Season 11 of "Vanderpump Rules," Leviss said she has no interest in doing reality TV anymore.

“I refuse to not respect myself on that level where I would endure that emotional abuse any longer,” she told Bethenny Frankel on the former "Real Housewives of New York City" star's podcast “Just B with Bethenny Frankel."

“I can’t do that to myself," Leviss said.

December 2023: Sandoval says he ‘fought so hard’ for Leviss after ‘heartbreaking’ split, claims Leviss made the first move

Once the scandal became public, Sandoval said Leviss "shooed" him away, which made him wonder about the true intentions of her feelings.

“I hope she did (love me). I don’t know,” Sandoval told Teddi Mellencamp and Tamra Judge on the Dec. 7 episode of the “Two T’s In A Pod" podcast.

While speaking about how everything went down, Sandoval said he had a "heartbreaking" breakup with Leviss.

“I fought so hard for Rachel,” he said after she called it quits. “I stopped drinking. I stopped smoking cigarettes because she went away to a facility. I’m like, ‘She can’t drink, she can’t smoke. I’m going to quit.’”

“I haven’t gone this long without drinking since I was like 16 and it’s been eight months and I stopped for her,” he added. “And I was there in any way she needed me.”

When asked if he missed Leviss, Sandoval said, “Yes, of course, I do.”

“We were best friends,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking to go through. I was fully in love with her. This is not just some hot girl. Come on, I was a model for like 15 years, it’s deeper than that. It’s more than that.”

Sandoval also claimed Leviss made the first move and that it happened "two nights or three nights" after an infamous "guys night" that played out in Episode Six of Season 10, when Leviss left a girls trip with some other "VPR" cast members early and met up with the boys back in Los Angeles. He said he was locked out of his house and Leviss was there.

"That was the first time," he explained. "The sad thing is is that everybody else ... people I've never met in my entire life literally spitting out very specific details like they know me. Everybody else is writing my story besides me, my narrative."

December 2023: Leviss first public appearance since ‘Scandoval’

She made her first public appearance at Jingle Ball 2023 wearing a sequined tan dress with a black sheer overlay.

KIIS FM's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2023 Presented By Capital One - Arrivals
Rachel LevissLeon Bennett / WireImage

January 2024: Madix sues Sandoval over their house

Ten months after their breakup, Madix sued Sandoval over the home they own together and requested “partition of real property by sale.”

If the request is approved, the couple would be required to sell the home and divide the proceeds.

The exes have shared the home since 2019, but the lawsuit states that the “discord” between them creates “a negative effect on the ownership of the property.”

January 2024: Leviss recalls her first hookup with Sandoval, which she says he initiated

During an episode of her “Rachel Goes Rogue” podcast, Leviss made it clear that she doesn’t want to be with Sandoval anymore.

“I’ve made the decision to cut Tom out of my life,” she said.

Still, she’s game to talk about him. On the episode, Leviss shared details about their first romantic encounter, which she said occurred after a night out together.

Afterwards, they headed back to Sandoval’s place. Things got spicy in the pool while Madix was asleep upstairs.

Leviss said Sandoval initiated the kiss, a different story than the one he had told.

“He looked at me a certain way and then he grabbed me, spun me and kissed me. I was like surprised but like happy,” she said. “Ugh, God so bad, so embarrassing.”

February 2024: Leviss files her lawsuit against Madix and Sandoval

Leviss is suing her former “Vanderpump Rules” castmates Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix, seeking damages and relief for eavesdropping, revenge porn, invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.

“Leviss was a victim of the predatory and dishonest behavior of an older man, who recorded sexually explicit videos of her without her knowledge or consent, which were then distributed, disseminated, and discussed publicly by a scorned woman seeking vengeance, catalyzing the scandal,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit relates to “sexually explicit videos” of Leviss that Madix found on Sandoval’s phone. has reached out to representatives for Leviss, Madix and Sandoval for comment.

While Bravo is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, it also alleges the network played a part in Leviss' "public skewering," to become "one of the most hated women in America." 

"The depths of her mistreatment in Season 10 went far beyond what is acceptable even in reality television, and Leviss knew that returning to the show meant risking a descent back into the depths of despair from which she had just emerged," the lawsuit states, in regards to her decision not to return for Season 11.

Leviss filed the suit to "vindicate her legal rights if not to restore her sullied reputation." has reached out to Bravo, producer Andy Cohen and NBCUniversal for comment on the lawsuit.

So, what did it all look like to fans? 'Vanderpump Rules' experts weigh in

The hosts of “Vanderpump Rules Party Podcast” called the cheating scandal "shocking" in a 2023 interview with In fact, after hearing the news, their first reaction was to think it was "fake."

"This not the person Sandoval has portrayed himself to be for all of these years. That 'cheater villain role' was always for other male cast members. Sandoval pretended to be the moral compass of the show," hosts Bohorquez and Cee said.

Leviss and Madix had been friends on the show. “The fans feel betrayed by both Tom and Raquel," the hosts said.

The sense of betrayal also stems from Madix being a "universally loved" cast member, the podcasts hosts said: "Every other cast member has an army of fans and an army of haters, but Ariana seems to only have fans."

Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss at the "Vanderpump Rules" Party For LALA Beauty on June 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss in 2021.Amy Sussman / Getty Images

LA-based writer Jeroslyn Johnson was also taken aback by the bombshell news, but for different reasons.

“(I was) completely shocked by how far Raquel was taking her bad girl era and the irony in Sandoval getting caught cheating similar to how he was cheated on by Kristen Doute seasons before,” Johnson wrote to over email.

Johnson predicted the drama would breathe new life into the show.

"This will impact Season 10 tremendously. They’ve already started filming again just because of how huge this scandal is. All of the breakups and Raquel hookups just reignited 'VPR' back to its glory days," she said.

CORRECTION (March 8, 2023, 8:50 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated that Raquel Leviss and Tom Schwartz were in a relationship. It has been updated.