Jim Bakker was not the first televangelist; TV and, before that, radio was the platform for religious programming for decades. However, as ABC News reports, Bakker didn’t see himself as a run-of-the-mill televangelist, on the order of, say, Billy Graham or Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Rather, he thought of himself as a sort of “Christian Johnny Carson,” so to speak. Soon enough, he’d built a media empire; the foundation of which was his “PTL” show, which he co-hosted with wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker.
Within a few years, the Bakker empire grew to include a South Carolina water park, which was billed a “Christian version of Disneyland.” The Bakkers themselves were living the high life, owning expensive cars and multiple mansions. And then it all came crashing down, likely due to a phone call. “I fielded this call from someone who turned out to be Jessica Hahn telling us that something had happened between her and Jim Bakker,” Charlotte Observer investigative reporter Charles Shepard said, via People.