“Pawn Stars” is one of the most popular and iconic reality TV shows, which actually premiered more than a decade ago, and it undoubtedly owes a huge part of its success to its memorable stars. That being said, while we surely enjoyed seeing the Harrisons’ business skills come into play, and their wide knowledge of American history never stopped impressing us, it was Chumlee who easily became the show’s biggest fan favorite for his personality alone.
However, often real life ends up hiding some very big secrets and personal issues that for sure we won’t get to se on TV, but does this apply to the memorable Chumlee too?
Keep with us to know all the details about Chumlee’s personal life, his highs and lows, his problems with the law, his romantic life, health issues and so much more!
- 1 He Has Known The Harrisons For Too Long
- 2 He Always Knew What The Show Needed
- 3 He’s Richer Than You Think
- 4 His Most Thrilling Moment In The Show
- 5 He Has Some Hidden Talents
- 6 His Legal Troubles
- 7 His Most Treasured Moment With Richard Harrison
- 8 He’s A Successful Businessman
- 9 His Marital Status Is Unknown
- 10 His Physical Transformation
He Has Known The Harrisons For Too Long
Given that Chumlee usually provides the comic relief element of “Pawn Stars”, it’s easy to forget that he isn’t just a random guy who came out of nowhere.
It happens that Chumlee, whose real name is Austin Lee Russell, has known the Harrison family his entire life, and that association played a big role in him joining the shop long before the TV show existed.
Growing up in Nevada, Chumlee and Corey Harrison became friends at school, and it wasn’t long until Chumlee became acquainted with Richard and Rick Harrison too. Although back then the Harrisons already owned the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, and it’s known Corey often worked there, Chumlee didn’t learn the basics of the business until he was 17 years old.
Regardless of the disapproval of Chumlee’s business decisions as seen in the show, the truth is that Rick and Richard considered Chumlee someone akin to a son as well.
He Always Knew What The Show Needed
Being cast in a TV show comes for some as the result of years of hard work, but for others it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time – such is the case of Chumlee.
Truth be told, no one really planned for him to be in “Pawn Stars” from the start, but producers realized that a fourth member was needed before filming began. Chumlee simply took the opportunity and made the best out of it, even figuring out by himself what was needed to make the show boom: ‘what was missing was the funny part of the show, the whipping boy is what I called it at the time. Someone they could make fun of and laugh with’, he told Review Journal.
Although back then the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop only had 12 employees, and the TV show’s future was still uncertain, Chumlee’s guess about the future of “Pawn Stars” wasn’t wrong at all. Soon enough, his ‘whipping boy’ portrayal was loved by the audience, thus ensuring him a regular spot in the show.
Chumlee’s popularity was at its peaklLater in 2010, becoming the show’s star whose merchandise was sold the most, on top of being recognized as “Pawn Stars” funny guy all around the world.
My face waiting on @rick_harrison to arrive to work. #oldman #coffee is made let's do this Rick! #chumleeforpresident…
He’s Richer Than You Think
Since its premiere in 2009, no one has been able to deny the success of “Pawn Stars”. Besides becoming a pop culture sensation, breaking audience records in the US and airing in more countries than we can count, the show has also gained millions in profit from merchandise and sponsorships,
Considering such huge success, it’s not far-fetched to think every “Pawn Stars” cast member is a millionaire, but how much money does Chumlee actually have?
According to Business Insider, in 2016 Chumlee’s salary from TV was close to $25,000 per episode. Though that number might sound exaggerated to some, it actually makes sense if we recall Chumlee’s interview from 2013, in which he affirmed making around $2,500 in a few hours. As “Pawn Stars” popularity increased, it’s safe to assume his salary skyrocketed within a couple of years.
Chumlee’s fortune has allowed him to pursue many expensive hobbies, such as collecting video games and luxury brands, or even paying for his girlfriend’s surgery on her birthday in 2013.
All in all, Chumlee’s current net worth is estimated at over $5 million, but his fortune will surely increase as his businesses keep on growing, as well as from his TV appearances.
His Most Thrilling Moment In The Show
Being part of an internationally known production surely has its perks, including meeting big names in the entertainment industry. However, even for people in the business, it’s incredibly rare to become acquainted with a legend as big as Bob Dylan, even if for a brief moment.
That’s exactly what happened to Chumlee, and unsurprisingly, the moment remains as his favorite memory from the show. It turns out that Dylan was featured in a 2009 “Pawn Stars” episode, not as a pawner but as an impromptu guest to whom Chumlee had to ask for an autograph, as per Rick Harrison’s request.
Despite Dylan’s often secluded personality, he was more than glad to sign the copy of his 1970’s “Self Portrait” album handed to him by Chumlee.
Although the scene was followed up by Rick berating Chumlee for asking Dylan to put his name on the vinyl, that certain detail about the encounter apparently wasn’t planned: ‘we saw him right there walking in the trailer, and didn’t have a microphone on him or anything. So, it was pretty cool the way it all happened’, Chumlee said to Looper. in 2021.
As an extra fact from this incident, it’s curious to know that Dylan spelled Chumlee’s name as “Chumley”, but the experience was worth it anyway.
He Has Some Hidden Talents
It’s usual to see Chumlee being berated by his bosses over his supposed misjudgement when it comes to business. Although this is clearly the show’s strategy, to make the everyday occurrences at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop a whole lot more lighthearted, it’s true that Chumlee’s expertise lies somewhere different than in old or rare objects.
Meet @chumlee_, the breakout star of the History Channel show “Pawn Stars”, and his pup Pinky as they present their unique line of pet products including leashes, collars and harnesses! We'll see you there at 9:00pm ET! Watch here: https://t.co/KcYKqd1Mlc pic.twitter.com/sjVWzIxHR5
— talkshoplive (@TalkShopLive) March 14, 2022
As seen in the show, Chumlee is more into the pop culture field, proving his expertise valuing video games, music related articles and pinball machines, is his specialty. However, less known is the fact he’s an avid sneakers connoisseur, affirming he has a quite extensive collection, amongst other things: ‘I’ve got a couple hundred pairs of Nikes and Jordans. I got a lot of hats too’, he told Review Journal in 2013.
Besides his history-related interests, in 2015 Chumlee worked as a deejay in summer events in Las Vegas. Although the attention paid to him by several media platforms hinted that this hobby was promising, his career in music went downhill, after he faced several legal issues the following year.
His Legal Troubles
Despite seemingly having the life everyone could dream of, Chumlee’s legal problems show us the darker side of fame as well.
In March 2016 Chumlee’s Nevada’s house was raided, allegedly after a former employee of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop accused him of sexual assault. Although in the end said charges were dropped, due to police not finding evidence to support the woman’s claims, Chumlee was taken to prison anyway, given all the illegal articles found in his home, including 12 guns and rifles, out of which only four were registered to his name.
Large amounts of marijuana, Xanax and methamphetamine were found in his power as well, prompting his arrest and subsequently being found guilty of 20 felony charges, including unlawful possession of a firearm and gross misdemeanor of drug possession, as USA Today reported back then.
Despite the seriousness of his crimes, Chumlee didn’t go to jail and was instead condemned to three years on probation. Apparently, in 2019 his felony charges were erased from his criminal record, for good behavior.
While this incident undoubtedly affected Chumlee in many ways, such as dropping his career as a deejay, and taking an hiatus from “Pawn Stars”, he continued on with life as best he could.
His Most Treasured Moment With Richard Harrison
Unfortunately, the Harrison patriarch died in 2018 after battling Parkinson’s disease for years, which was surely saddening for his family and everyone around him.
As Chumlee confessed to Looper in 2021, the memorable “Old Man” Harrison is still dearly remembered by him, the Harrison family and everyone who got to meet him. The family has made sure that his mark in the shop wouldn’t be erased, keeping the decorations the way he liked it, but placing some pics around and a cardboard stand with his image to be reminded of his presence.
However, for Chumlee the memory of the Old Man goes far beyond that. As he affirmed, he and the others ‘wouldn’t have what we have without him’, so his legacy will continue on.
It’s hard to believe he is gone. He was such a big part of my life and treated me like family. I will miss him greatly…
Chumlee’s most precious moment with the Harrison patriarch was when he convinced him to ride the 1986 Buick Regal he had just had renovated by “Counting Cars” star Danny Koker, warmly recalling the Old Man’s surprise when he ‘hit him on three motions’ as his favorite memory of all time. However, his esteem for his former boss was more than that: ‘he treated everyone who works there like a son, and you just got this real family feeling from The Old Man that you don’t often get in every job’, he confessed; surely no one doubts that Richard ‘Old Man’ Harrison was a well-liked man.
He’s A Successful Businessman
Chumlee surely makes good money from his appearances in “Pawn Stars” and other shows, but that doesn’t stop him from earning money in other ways too.
The first time we knew that Chumlee liked doing business was in 2010, when he sold his $155,000 share of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop to Rick Harrison, only just after we’d discovered that he owned a stake in it.
His earnings from the show and merchandise sales surely turned out high enough for him to open his first business – Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard – located in the commercial complex founded by the Harrisons named Pawn Plaza. Although following its opening the store served exclusively as a candy shop through and through, nowadays the business also sells Chumlee’s personally curated clothing merchandise on location, or through their official website.
Regarding the possibility of featuring his shop on TV, Chumlee admitted in 2021 to be open to the possibility, as long as ‘the whole pawn (area)’ was in it too, including Rick’s BBQ restaurant.
In early 2022, Chumlee announced his partnership with the TV shopping channel PetShopping.tv, to launch his own line of pet products. Though this business field might sound unlikely for him, it’s actually inspired by his love for his three dogs, and surely this isn’t the last of his money-making ideas either.
His Marital Status Is Unknown
If you’ve followed Chumlee over the years, you surely remember that he tied the knot with a lady named Olivia Rademann. Apparently, the couple had been together several years before taking it to the next level: ‘It’s beautiful. I already feel like I’m married, we were friends for a year or two before we were ever a couple,’ he told Review Journal in 2019, just weeks before their wedding in Hawaii.
The ceremony was even featured in two “Pawn Stars” episodes, and everything seemed to be going well for the couple, often sharing pics of their trips together, before announcing that they had a long-distance relationship due to Olivia pursuing higher education in a North Carolina university.
However, in late 2019 the couple disappeared from each others’ social media, and rumors about their separation quickly spread. Though they still follow each other on Instagram, Olivia and Chumlee’s relationship status has been unknown for years.
His Physical Transformation
Anyone who hasn’t kept up with the latest “Pawn Stars” seasons would surely be surprised to see Chumlee’s physical appearance nowadays. Reportedly, by late 2021 he’d lost almost 200 pounds, around 90kgs, and still wanted to lose more, but this incredible change is the result of a long and hard process he started years ago.
Prompted by hitting 320 pounds on the weighing machine, about 185kgs, and inspired by Corey Harrison’s own weight loss journey, in 2013 Chumlee started his transformation by improving his eating habits. In 2014, he weighed 225 pounds but still had a long way to go: ‘It’s been a rollercoaster my whole life, I’ve been down, I’ve been up, I’ve been down and I’ve been up’, he said about his journey on Facebook Live.
The next couple of years Chumlee progressively gained weight, but in 2019 decided enough was enough, weighing in at 350 pounds, about 160kgs. Feeling committed to his journey again, Chumlee worked hard over the next two years to weigh around 160 pounds, finally undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in late 2021.
Although nowadays it’s unknown how much Chumlee weighs, his efforts and struggles to achieve a healthy lifestyle are very commendable, easily seen by his most recent pics on social media. One hopes that his love life has also undergone a resurgence too.