Unless you have been living on an island with a volcano and a savage tribe of natives, you have seen Pawn Stars. But, you only see what they want you to see. Michigan has a tough set of privacy laws which prevents any of the crew from working the counters. What you see on the show is a carefully orchestrated shot to make sure no private citizen is in the shop.
20. The crew enjoyed a private Lynyrd Skynyrd gig
It’s no secret that ’70s rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote and performed the show’s theme music for season four onwards. What you might not know, however, is that when the band went to Las Vegas to meet the guys, they also performed an impromptu gig in the store’s parking lot.
19. Olivia Black wasn’t actually fired
Olivia Black started working the night shift in season five, but afterwards it was revealed that she had done a nude photoshoot for the website Suicide Girls and so was hastily removed from the show. As it turns out, however, it was the network who had an issue with this and not Rick and company. In fact, even after leaving the show Black kept working at the store, before eventually leaving of her own accord.
18. The store was sued for melting down antique coins
Melting down coins for gold is far from uncommon and perfectly legal – provided the coins in question aren’t stolen. But in 2014 a woman traded in a coin collection at Gold & Silver, and the guys did the standard thing and melted them down. It transpired, however, that the seller had actually stolen the coins from her uncle, who later claimed they were worth $50,000 and sued the store.
17. Pawn Plaza isn’t doing so well
To capitalize on the sheer volume of tourists and fans who visit the store, Rick decided to expand, and so the Pawn Plaza was assembled nearby. The plaza offers a variety of shops and eateries and is primarily built from shipping containers. And while initial expectations for it were lofty, four of its stores had to close in 2016, and the future of the ambitious venture remains uncertain.
16. Rick Harrison is something of a bookworm
Some of Rick’s interests, such as his car collection, aren’t all that surprising. But did you know that the businessman is also an avid reader? As it turns out, Rick is extremely well read, and he has a more refined taste in literature than you might expect from a pawnbroker, too.
15. Somebody once pawned a sack of human skulls
Pawn shops take some fairly bizarre inventory at times, and Gold & Silver probably has the best line in weird wares of any pawn shop in America. At one point, for example, somebody brought in a sack of human skulls, which must have been pretty difficult to process. And another customer brought in some Japanese porn that had been doing the rounds for 250 years.
14. The store is full of merchandise
By far the biggest money maker in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop nowadays is the merchandise, and Chumlee’s line is particularly popular. During filming, however, the cameras are deliberately angled away from all this to make the business seem more authentic. But since the store gets so many fans visiting on a daily basis, the outgoings on merchandise are far greater than from people actually pawning things.
13. Sometimes the trade you see on TV isn’t what it seems
We all know by now that reality TV doesn’t necessarily reflect reality, and even when things seem real, there’s usually a certain amount of massaging going on. For instance, some of the trades you see in the broadcast version of Pawn Stars have happened at least once already. Indeed, if someone brings in an unusual item, they might be asked to come in again at a different time so that the trade can be filmed in more detail.
12. Stolen items have been brought in on several occasions
The melting coin fiasco wasn’t the only time that Rick has taken in stolen goods. In 2009, for example, a man traded in a pair of diamond earrings for $40,000. Barely a day had passed, however, when it transpired that the earrings were actually stolen, and the seller was arrested. The pawn shop isn’t liable when this happens, but they don’t get the money back. Crime doesn’t pay, and it doesn’t hand out refunds, either.
11. The amount of Subway the guys eat is no accident
Clunky product placement is always jarring, but Pawn Stars takes it to another level. Subway is one of the show’s main sponsors, and as a result, you will often see the guys munching away on Subway sandwiches with the logo on the wrapping clearly on display. Even worse, if someone talks about a Subway sandwich on the show they will call it by its proper, branded name. Cringe.
10. Pimps buy jewelry from the store
Some customers are great for TV, others just don’t pop, while others still pop a little bit too much. From time to time, for example, local pimps come into the store to buy jewelry, since they can take it back in later and get half the price as a loan against it. It’s a loophole that allows them to pay bail, since their cash is confiscated when they’re arrested. Interesting, but not entirely suitable for family TV
9. Deanna’s previous marriage wasn’t plain sailing
Rick got hitched to Deanna Burditt in 2013, but she had been married before, and it didn’t exactly end amicably. Her ex, Richard Burditt, was convicted of forced sexual abuse, but he hasn’t ever served any time for it. Rick cites “bureaucracy” as the reason for that, and the topic is clearly still a sore subject for both him and Deanna.
8. Corey is a keen biker but not always a safe one
Rick’s son Corey is often vocal about his love of motorbikes on the show. What he doesn’t often bring up on camera, however, is his history of bike accidents. One particularly nasty incident occurred in 2014, when Corey was thrown from his bike after a fender mount fell off it and sent it into a tailspin. Unbelievably, he walked away from the encounter with only a fractured hand.
7. Rick reached out to a young fan in the most adorable way
Pawn Stars has plenty of younger fans, and one in particular was given a very special surprise. The boy in question, an autistic child nicknamed Little J, posted a letter to the shop along with his Game Boy in the hope of trading it in for $30. Not only did Rick send the money, but he also returned the Game Boy to the child. Plus, he penned a letter back to Little J thanking him, encouraging him to keep playing and to listen to his mother, along with a signed photo of the cast. Class act.
6. You won’t find the guys behind the counter
When the show started, Gold & Silver was like any other pawn shop – most, if not all, of the business was done over the counter. But now, because of the filming schedule, if you actually go into the store you won’t see Harrison and Russell at work. They’re far more likely to be by the merch stand signing autographs.
5. The store was on TV before the show started
Although Pawn Stars kicked off in 2009, the store had actually already appeared on TV twice. The first time was in 2001 when PBS aired a full-length documentary about the business. And two years later, comedian Dave Attell also turned up at the store to film a segment for his show, Insomniac.
4. The store has a Greek artifact dating back to 325 B.C.
People bring plenty of antiques into Gold & Silver, some of them centuries old. But one coin in particular was on a whole different level. The antique coin proved to be a didrachm from around 325 B.C., which was the ancient Greek equivalent of about two dollars if you don’t adjust for inflation.
3. Between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors call at the shop each day
For most pawn shops, getting 5,000 visitors in a month would be pretty good going, but Gold & Silver get that in a day – sometimes more. The store is inundated with tourists on a daily basis, which is why the way the guys do business has changed so drastically since the show started. In fact, some fans will even go as far as to try and sneak around the back to get a peek at the cast.
2. Rick can’t browse garage sales anymore
Fame can impact on people’s lives in strange and unexpected ways. In Rick’s case, his now well-recognized reputation as a canny, keen-eyed negotiator has meant that at garage sales and swap meets, he’s regarded with suspicion. Some people even hide their wares away before he gets the chance to examine them.
1. The guys got a special invite from Bon Jovi
As if the private Lynyrd Skynyrd show wasn’t awesome enough, the cast were also personally invited to a show by Jon Bon Jovi. According to Chumlee, Bon Jovi’s son wanted to meet them, and so the free gig was bartered in exchange for the meeting. It was a haggling approach that the guys can certainly understand and probably appreciated.