The story behind Pawn Stars

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Pawnbroking has been around since the Ancient Greek and Roman times when the poor would hand in goods to a ‘pawnbroker’ in return for a small loan. Although the Roman Catholic Church prohibited charging interest on loans, it is thought that Franciscans were allowed to do this in order to help the poor out of a sticky situation!


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Pawnbroking then spread to England, around the time of William the Conqueror, and even royalty took to pawning their items; Edward III pawned jewels of his in order to raise funds for his war with France. Since then, pawn brokerage has spread around the world, with changing business models and regulations.

Nowadays, in America, there are over 11,000 pawnbrokers around the country. It’s thought that 30 million people use pawnbrokers in the US every single year, making an industry revenue of around $14.5 billion. To say it’s profitable is an understatement! Perhaps it is so profitable because of how simple and easy it is to get a loan. People can bring their items into a pawn store to be valued, before being offered a loan amount for their goods. They can then either pay back the loan amount (plus interest) to get their item back. Alternatively, to reclaim the money loaned out, the pawn store can sell it and make a profit. There are usually set terms in place as to how long the customer has to repurchase their item before the pawnbroker can sell it on.

You can pawn pretty much anything you like with a pawnbroker, as long as they think they can sell it on! Some specialize in high-end goods such as jewelry, cars, or antiques. Others will take in things you’d have lying around the house, such as electronics, as long as there is a market for them to sell it to someone else. Pawnbroking has become such an interesting (and profitable) industry, that it comes as no surprise there would be an entire show dedicated to it…Here’s the unique story behind the History Channel’s reality show, Pawn Stars.

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Private Lynyrd Skynyd show

One of the major perks of having your show broadcasted on an international network like the History Channel is the ability to have anyone write your theme music (assuming that your show makes it big enough of course). This is what happened with Pawn Stars when Lynyrd Skynyrd was tapped to write the show’s theme song in season four. What’s even cooler, they decided one day to have a random, free concert at the pawn shop. Did they play Freebird?

One of the night shift workers turned stars of Pawn Stars Olivia Black was known to viewers as a rambunctious, punky woman until season five of the show. However, it seems as if she just disappeared off of the face of the earth come season six, and no one knew what happened. It turns out that the producers decided to remove her from the show due to the fact that she posed nude for a magazine. And that was only the beginning of her drama.

Olivia Black sues the show

Olivia was not exactly happy when she was dropped from Leftfield Entertainment – the production company in charge of producing Pawn Stars for The History Channel. After comparing her contract with the other people on the show she discovered that she had a morality clause in her contract which said that she could not pose for nude pictures anywhere. It turns out that she, as the lone woman on the show, was the only one who had that in her contract. So she sued the Leftfield Entertainment for sexism.

Meltdown

A woman walked into Gold & Silver, the pawn shop featured in Pawn Stars, with a bag full of old coins and sold them to the store. As she walked off, the guys behind the counter made preparations to have them melted down to sell off. A few weeks later however, a man came into the store asking for the coins back, claiming the woman had stolen them from him. Sadly, the coins were already melted down, so the man sued the pawn shop for $50,000.

Ill-gotten gains

One of the more sorry aspects of pawn shops is the fact that they may inadvertently be buying goods which are “hot,” or stolen. And sadly, Gold & Silver pawn is no exception. A man came into the store one day with a pair of diamond earrings and sold them for $40,000. Not soon after, the police came and demanded the earrings back as it turns out that they were stolen. The man was in jail, but the pawn shop didn’t get its money back.

Pawn Plaza failing

Pawn Stars has popularized Rick and his pawnshop so much that he recently decided to expand his holdings. So, he bought some land close to the shop and built a small shopping plaza made completely out of old shipping containers, giving the building the name Pawn Plaza. While the initial estimates from sales and businesses working in the plaza seemed promising on paper, four stores have closed there since 2016.

Rick reads

The owner of the pawnshop Rick Harrison is a man of many interests. He loves gems, precious metals, cars, guitars, and history. However, did you know that he is extremely well read? He loves reading classic novels and can always be found reading during his off time. In fact, he could probably hold his own quite well if he were speaking with an English literature professor. That could be why he loves historical items so much.

Selling a sack of skulls

There are all sorts of things that the guys on Pawn Stars are willing to appraise, and for them, the weirder the better. Not all pawn shops will take weird stuff because weird stuff usually doesn’t sell very well. But that’s what makes Gold & Silver different – they specialize in strange. For instance, the guys were once asked to appraise a sack of human skulls, and another time, they were asked to appraise 250 year old Japanese adult erotica.

Merchandising money making

Due to the success of the show, Gold & Silver is now less a pawn shop and more a tourist destination. While some people come in to use their pawn services, the majority of the money comes from the merchandise isle of the store where the guys sell Pawn Shop gear. One of the biggest sellers is a clothing line which is designed by Chumlee. In fact, if you were able to see behind the cameras, you would see a giant line of people touring the shop.

Not all is as it seems

While reality TV has the word Reality in the name, it is many times anything but. There are true stories on there, but most of the time, the details are blown out of proportion. This is also the case with Pawn Stars. There are many times when people will come in with interesting items to trade or sell, and the deal is done right then and there. But these people will be asked to come back a few days later to film the transaction more theatrically.

Subway specials

One way to have advertising revenue come in without the ads is to do product placement. And there is no better product placement than when the guys eat Subway sandwiches. They call the sandwiches by their full names, they make sure the Subway logo is always up front and center, and they never stop talking about the restaurant. In fact, Chumlee has even said that he is ready to be the brand’s new spokesman.

Ilicit managers buy the jewels

All different kinds of people come into pawn shops in order to see what there is to buy. Some come to see if there are any interesting items up for sale, and there are those who go to them when they need a few extra bucks. But there are many who will come in for jewelry, especially criminals. These people buy jewelry because they know that the moment that they’re arrested, their money will be taken away. However, they can always pawn back jewelry!

Deanna’s harsh first husband

Rick married a woman named Deanna Burditt back in 2013. However, this is not the first time that Burditt got married, having been wedded previously to a man who did not treat her right. He forced her to do nonconsensual acts which emotionally scarred her, so she divorced him. However, the man who did these things is still walking around freely, as the bureaucratic red tape to lock him up is too complicated.

Corey loves biking

Rick’s son Corey also works for Rick at Gold & Silver Pawn, helping his dad appraise and sell various items. But Corey’s real specialty (and some would say true love) is motorcycles. This is a really fun hobby for anyone, but it carries with it a lot of risk for injury. Corey knows this all too well. He was in a motorcycle accident whereby his fender fell off, causing his bike to go into a tailspin. Lucky, Corey only received a fractured hand from the incident.

A good man to the fans

There are all different people who love to watch Pawn Stars, including people from all races, religions, ages, and creeds. This includes a little autistic child named Little J. Little J sent a letter to the shop saying that he wanted to pawn off his Game Boy for $30. Rick was so moved by the letter that he sent the kid not only $30, but also a signed picture of the cast along with a letter. He even sent the Game Boy back.

No longer behind the counter

Once upon a time, all of the business at Gold & Silver was done from behind the counter, just like with any other pawn shop. But due to restrictions brought about by filming, along with the popularity of the show, the guys very rarely appear behind the counter unless there is something truly interesting. Instead, you are more likely to see them signing autographs around the merchandise aisle.

Previous TV exposure

While Pawn Stars may have only been on the air since 2009, Gold & Silver has actually been on television screens across the country a couple of times before. The first time they were on TV was when PBS was doing a show on pawn shops and the channel featured Gold and Silver back in 2001. Two years later, in 2003, Dave Attell visited the pawn shop during a filming of the show Insomniac.

An ancient artifact

People bring antiquities into Gold & Silver Pawn all of the time. In fact, it is always a treat for the guys to get to touch something from an entire ocean (or two) away and have it in their store. One of these antiquities that was sold to them was a didrachm, an ancient Greek coin which was estimated to be approximately 2,300 years old. Imagine that coin’s history – going from the middle of the Mediterranean all the way to the deserts of southern Nevada. Quite a story.

Lines to get in

Most small scale mom and pop stores would be happy with 3,000 people coming in every week or even every month. But Gold & Silver actually get more than that – 5,000 people – coming in every single day. This is why the store has switched its main focus from being an actual pawn shop to selling actual merchandise – most of the people are coming in solely to see the cast, not to buy or pawn anything.

Fame has changed the business

As they say, fame is a fickle mistress. A big thing that Rick used to do in order to stock his pawn shop with items for sale was go to garage sales or yard sales and buy peoples’ junk. However, as is shown on the show, Rick is a tough negotiator, and is usually able to get what he wants for the price that he wants. Nowadays Rick gets chased off by the hosts whenever he goes to a garage sale.

Concerts for meets

The pawn shop business is all about haggling in order to get what you want, and that could literally be for anything. For instance, when Bon Jovi was performing in Las Vegas, his son wanted to meet and hang out with the guys from Pawn Stars. The guys agreed, but only on the condition that they be able to attend Bon Jovi’s concert for free. And it worked!

Chumlee drops the bass

Before Pawn Stars started out, a man walked into Gold & Silver and tried to pawn his stand up bass. He handed it to Chumlee who promptly leaned it up against a shelf before walking away. The bass fell and shattered into dozens of pieces. Chumlee, being Chumlee, just swept all the pieces into a box and didn’t think about it. But when the man came back and Chumlee gave over the box, the man was quite upset. The bass turned out to be worth $20,000.

Chumlee got arrested

Chumlee has gotten himself into some legal trouble as of late due to the fact that he allegedly assaulted a woman. When police went to his home to conduct a routine search, the authorities found large quantities of weapons, ammunition, scales, and small baggies. They also found large amounts of illegal substances in his house. It turns out that the pawn star had been selling illegal narcotics.

Rick’s net worth

The owner of Gold & Silver and the star of Pawn Stars Rick Harrison is worth approximately $8 million. He earned most of his money from his pawn shop, but he was smart and diversified into the stock market, thereby giving him a passive income stream. Nowadays his main source of funds comes from the Pawn Stars merch sold at his shop. Not too shabby if you ask us.

Chumlee net worth

Chumlee is one of, if not the most beloved of all of the cast members of Pawn Stars. Yet he is only worth a measly $6 million. All he has to his name is a giant mansion outside of Las Vegas which has simple amenities such as a dancer’s pole, a “Chum Chum room,” and a pool. He was probably also making a nice profit selling narcotics until he was caught by the authorities as well.

Corey net worth

Corey Harrison, who is Rick’s son, is worth around $2.5 million. This fact almost caused him to leave the show entirely. Corey wanted a stake in his father’s and grandfather’s company and threatened to leave the show if his demand was not met. Without having much choice, Rick gave him ownership of 5 percent in the shop. In addition to his stake in the company, Corey makes Las Vegas appearances for which he charges $1,000.

Richard net worth

The last of the family members on the show isn’t too bad either. Richard, who is referred to as “Old Man”, is arguably the funniest and most intriguing family member. He gets paid $15,000 for every episode. This has earned him a net worth of approximately $8 million. Even though he is already 72, he does not see himself retiring in the near future and joked that if he stopped working, he would die of boredom after six months.

Stan Lee appears on Pawn Star

One aspect of the show that makes it so interesting is that the shop often brings in experts to examine and authenticate the items that customers bring in. It seems that there is an expert for everything as people who specialize in anything from medieval weapons to pirate gold often make appearances on the show. They even bring in celebrities such as the famous comic book writer, Stan Lee, who assisted to guys with authenticating comic books.

OJ Simpson’s car on the show

Sometimes the items that customers bring in are extremely interesting. One of the most controversial items that was ever brought in was OJ Simpson’s white Chevy Bronco. The same car that the former running back used in his infamous car chase with police. It is often the case on the show that the customer asks for a lot more money than what the item is worth. This was the case with OJ’s care as the man selling it wanted over a million dollars for the car while Rick only offered him half a million.

Chumlee selling his house

If you want a beautiful, fun house with a whole lot of fun history in one of the nicest areas of Las Vegas then look no further than here. It turns out that Pawn Star Chumlee is selling his house. Is it to pay for rising legal costs? We are not sure, but we do know that Chumlee knows how to party and that this is the perfect party house. How much is he asking for? Just under $1,850,000.

Chumlee’s goons rough a guy up

A few years ago Chumlee was driving in Los Angeles when a man stopped his Rolls Royce in order to start something with the pawn star. However, it seems that Chumlee is living the hood rich lifestyle and never goes anywhere without his bodyguards. After being warned by the bodyguards several times to step away from Chumlee, the man took a swing, but Chumlee’s goons cracked him upside the jaw. It doesn’t pay to mess with Chumlee.

Chumlee’s candy shop

Chumlee had been speaking with his brother Sage about opening up a business in Pawn Plaza for some time, but he did not want to disrupt the business of the other food shops in the plaza. So, he decided that he would open up a candy store which will specialize in selling all different types of American candy along with collectable Pez dispensers. We hope him and his business does well!

Chumlee’s accuser worked at the shop

When Chumlee’s house got raided by the police and they discovered the various narcotic substances along with an armory big enough to arm a small European nation, the Las Vegas Police Department were doing it as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged indecent, unwanted advance Chumlee had done. It turns out that the advances and alleged assault may have been against a co-worker. This could be really bad for Chum.

Nicknamed for a cartoon

Austin “Chumlee” Russell is a big dude, and it appears that he has always been a little bit more corpulent than the rest of the children. That, it seems, is how he earned the nickname Chumlee. There used to be a cartoon on the air called Tennessee Tuxedo, and one of the characters on the show was a big ol’ walrus named Chumlee. One of Russell’s friends’ fathers noticed the resemblance between the two, and the nickname stuck.

DJ ChumLEE

It turns out that one of the many talents that Chumlee has is being able to spin a couple records on a turntable and lay down a sick, thumping beat. Chumlee will go to various clubs and casinos in the Las Vegas area and man the turntables in order to make a little bit of extra cash. On of his favorite spots to DJ at is a Las Vegas nightclub called Tru.

Chumlee has been in anime

A Japanese anime show called Little Witch Academia may have included Chumlee in one of their episodes. In the episode, the stars of the show go into a pawn shop where they are met by a man who looks suspiciously like Chumlee (tattoos and all), and even speaks a bit like Chumlee. When a fan told Chum about the anime episode bearing his likeness, instead of suing the show like most celebs, Chumlee seemed to be really excited.

Just a normal(ish) guy

Chumlee said in a recent interview that he is happy with his life and his role on Pawn Stars, and that he feels very fortunate. When asked if he feels like a normal person, Chumlee was quick to defend himself, saying that he drives himself to the grocery store to get groceries just like everybody else. However, the part Chumlee left out is that he drives to the grocery store in either his Maserati or his Rolls Royce.

Rick wasn’t an Obama fan

It turns out that Rick Harrison was not a big fan of Former United States President Barack Obama. Rick’s main issue with the former president was the huge amount of regulations which the Obama administration passed, and were passing throughout his presidency. One of Rick’s biggest qualms was that he could not give out loans to active duty members of the United State Military, and that he needed to pay a person to keep an eye out for all the new regulations which kept piling up.

Was #2 most watched reality TV show

2012 was a very interesting year for television, and it turns out that it was also one of the best years for the Pawn Stars show. The show had been gaining popularity slowly but surely since its debut on The History Channel back in 2009, but 2012 is when America really fell in love with the Harrisons and Chumlee. In fact, the only reality TV show which did better than Pawn Stars was The Jersey Shore.

Corey’s personal assistant

Just as most millionaires do, Corey Harrison, Rick’s son and potential heir to the Gold & Silver pawn store and name, has a personal assistant. And he likes to take him anywhere he goes. And one of those places is dune buggy racing out in the Nevada desert. One of the craziest things that Corey said he has had to get used to is having his personal assistant clean out his trailer’s septic tank after it has been used.

Rick’s Quizno’s

Rick is a huge entrepreneur, as evidenced not only by his pawn shop, but by his many other business ventures, which include, but are not limited to: merchandise, a shopping plaza, restaurants, and a whole lot of other ventures. But did you know that Rick also is an owner of a Quizno’s subs franchise? It turns out that he and Corey are both part owners of it and help to manage it.

Bus driver

The Harrison family was originally from Danville, VA where the family was, in the words of Richard “old man” Harrison, “dirt poor (and) white trash.” The family was barely making enough money to survive. So, Richard was forced to work at a young age. According to his memoirs, Richard was actually a school bus driver for his local school when he was 14. We guess that people just didn’t care much about underage driving back then

A learned kid

Rick is well known for being a well read guy – he loves books and especially loves history. But it turns out that Rick’s love of reading came from a difficult time in his life. Rick had childhood epilepsy, meaning he had to be confined to his bed for weeks on end. The only entertainment he had during that time were books, and he read everything he could get his hands on. He specifically liked The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald.

Corey gets healthy

Rick’s son Corey has lost nearly 200 lbs in the last few years. He started losing it after a doctor’s visit where he learned that if he didn’t change his lifestyle he would get diabetes. Freaking out while driving home, he saw a billboard for lap band surgery and immediately went to the clinic to get the surgery. When asked if he also eats healthier, Corey said “when you only have four or five ounces (of space in your stomach), you don’t want to fill it with crap.”

Fired over love?

Leftfield Entertainment soon got its just desserts however when they got the red light on producing what could have been another show due to the orientation of one of the hosts of the show they were pitching. The show, which was to have been about real estate, was going to be on Fox Business. However, despite having filmed a couple of episodes already, Fox Business shut down production when they realized that the star was an LGBT man.

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