Chances are you’ve caught at least a snippet of the hit TV show, Pawn Stars. Fans can’t get enough of watching Rick, The Old Man, Big Hoss, and Chumlee uncover cool items and drive each other crazy. It’s made Pawn Stars one of the biggest reality shows in history.
At the same time, not everything you see at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is as it seems. When they turn the cameras off, the cast and crew are making plans and dealing with crises that are beyond imagination. In fact, their behind-the-scenes drama deserves its own reality show…
1. When the Pawn Stars cast isn’t in the middle of production, they make a ton of money off their fans. Their store offers paid meet-and-greets as well as a VIP experience that takes you around Las Vegas and behind the scenes.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
2. You can tell by those gruff stares that the Pawn Stars guys don’t like surprises. That’s why, behind the scenes, they know about nearly every object that’s coming their way on the show. The producers are heavily involved in choosing items, on top of just about every other “spontaneous” moment.
History / Scott Gries
3. Pawn Stars is a huge hit, so it’s no surprise that a ton of people stop by Gold & Silver. They average about 4,000 visitors per day and nearly 1.5 million across a whole year. On top of that, store manager Travis Benton figured only 1 out of 100 guests actually went there to do business.
Flickr / Wilson Hui
4. Although Gold & Silver remains a functioning pawn shop, they bring in more profits from show-related memorabilia than from actual sales. True to their mission, you can bet that the Pawn Stars are getting a nice deal for it all.
5. Even though the cast knows which items are coming in ahead of time, they do come across a lot of interesting stuff. Some of the weirdest wares to appear onscreen include a bag of human skulls, a collection of old Japanese erotica, and a one-man submarine. That’s way more exotic than your normal pawn shop inventory!
WireImage / Denise Truscello
6. When Rick bought a pair of diamond earrings for $40,000, he should have spent less time examining the jewels, and more time vetting the seller. As it turns out, the earrings were authentic but stolen. The thief blew through all the cash by the time police contained the situation, so Rick had to return the jewelry without compensation.
7. After a few successful seasons, Rick expanded his business interests by opening Pawn Plaza, a shopping center made out of repurposed shipping containers. Quite a few tenants went under, but the mall was still open as of 2018. Chumlee even owned a candy store inside!
Twitter / Ed McDonough
8. Stolen goods aren’t the only pitfall that costs the shop money. Chumlee once leaned against a stand-up bass they’d just bought, but it toppled over and broke. He tried to hide the damage by shoving the pieces inside the case, but of course, his colleagues found him out. The broken bass cost them $20,000.
9. It’s hard to believe now, but Chumlee originally wasn’t going to be on the show. The producers wanted to focus solely on the Harrison family, but then decided they needed a fourth cast member. As one of Corey’s longest friends and a great source of comic relief, Chumlee emerged as the top candidate.
10. In 2014, the shop landed in hot water after it purchased an antique coin collection from Jennifer Beckman and melted down its contents, only to discover that Beckman had stolen the coins from her uncle. He sued Gold & Silver for $50,000, though they denied any wrongdoing in the matter.
YouTube / ehowbeauty
11. Rick happily married Deanna Burditt in 2013, though Deanna’s previous marriage wasn’t nearly as sunny. Her former husband, also named Richard, was arrested for assaulting a student at the high school where he worked as a janitor. Richard avoided jail time for years as his trial dragged on, but as of 2018, he was behind bars.
12. Every now and again, a celebrity pops into an episode of Pawn Stars. Of course, these star-studded visits aren’t as spontaneous as they seem. Steve Carrell, for example, showed up with a costume from The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and there’s no doubt he was only there to plug his upcoming movie.
13. Austin “Chumlee” Russell is perfectly affable on-camera, but he’s had some serious brushes with the law. In 2016, police raided his home in response to serious assault allegations, and they uncovered a huge stash of illegal weapons and drugs. Later that year, he pled guilty to multiple felony charges.
14. Richard “The Old Man” was the proud patriarch of the Harrison clan and founded the pawn shop in 1989. Though he was a big presence from the first episode onward, devoted viewers know he’s no longer there. Richard passed away in 2018 after a long bout with Parkinson’s Disease.
15. Each episode of Pawn Stars brings in experts to help appraise various items, and it seems as if each one is a personal friend of the store’s team. That’s not the case. In reality, the program’s producers seek out and hire all of these experts, many of whom appeared for free!
Stringer / David Becker
16. The crew brought in Olivia Black as a new cast member in Season 5, but then she suddenly vanished. Did The History Channel pawn her off? Not quite — after posing for a sexy photo shoot, producers pulled her from the family-friendly show.
17. The Pawn Stars team was sued by quite a few different parties, including their first agent. Wayne Jeffries claimed that he helped launch the show, but then the network almost immediately fired him and cut him out of the profits. The court later dismissed Jeffries’ case.
18. Only longtime fans noticed that Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison underwent a dramatic transformation. In 2014, he underwent lap band surgery, and the decision paid off. Big Hoss dropped just under 200 pounds, and he isn’t looking so big these days.
19. If you are among the many visitors to pass through Gold & Silver on any given day, don’t expect any of the show’s stars to actually be present in the shop. The Harrisons and Chumlee are so focused on the show itself that other employees handle most of the day-to-day operations.
Flickr / Jared
20. Have you ever noticed how often the Pawn Stars cast seems to eat at Subway? That’s because the sandwich chain is a big sponsor of the show. They return the favor by featuring frequent product placement. Some might call the guys sellouts, but you can’t deny that they know how to make a buck.