In case you’ve been living under a rock, “Gold Rush” is a reality series centered around family-owned companies that mine for gold placer deposits in the Klondike region around Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, and Alaska. The series is considered one of the most successful, if not the most successful series created and produced by Discovery Channel, and numerous spin-offs can attest to that fact. It premiered in 2012, and has run for 13 seasons with no signs of slowing down. As with any other Discovery series, it features numerous cast members, including the cigar-chomping series veteran Chris Doumitt, who has had his share of family tragedy and troubles! Keep reading to learn more!
Who is Chris Doumitt?
Chris Doumitt is a former carpenter, a gold miner, and a reality TV star, who gained popularity for his role in “Gold Rush.” He was born in Portland, Oregon, and is believed to be of part-Arab descent. Chris was raised on a farm, and often helped his father with various tasks, including managing machinery, which would later serve him well. He attributes his hard-working ethic and mindset to growing up on a farm, as he explained it well, disclosing: ‘Being a farm boy, you dont have working hours. You do the job for as long as it takes until it’s done.’
Not much is known about his education and family. Back in the day, he taught firearm safety for Sandy Police Department, and is an excellent marksman, highly revered for his skill among his crew members, which he displayed on several occasions in “Gold Rush.”
Talking of his romantic life, the 62-year-old miner has been married to Sharon for more than 35 years, and the couple shares two children. When he’s not mining gold, he likes to spend his time in the warmer climes of Palm Springs, California. Besides avidly smoking, he enjoys fishing and playing golf!
2 Thoughts, 1. I wonder if it's still snowing back home? 2. A 5 or 3 wood?
How did he become a miner?
The story of how he ended up in the mining business is quite attention-grabbing. As a matter of fact, Chris was a plant carpenter for 25 years before stepping into this unfamiliar territory, geographically and job-wise. He officially tested the waters in 2010; -as he often said, it happened accidentally. According to the Discovery site, Chris joined the show during the first season, after he was hired by Todd Hoffman to build a cabin, a project that was supposed to last ten days, as seen in the show’s debut season. But, as you might have guessed, he ‘over-stayed his welcome’ and actually spent five months with the Hoffman’s, learning about mining. Ultimately, impressed by his talents, Todd asked him to join his crew, but as with any beginner, he was unsuccessful initially, and learned the craft through trial and error.
Why did he leave Hoffman’s crew?
Chris is a very hands-on guy and so physically capable, who took every opportunity to learn as much as possible. If you watched the show, you know that he was part of the crew that had the rough and tumble learning experience in the first two seasons. Luckily, the crew reeled in over 803 ounces of gold in the third season, however, when the fourth season premiered, it was revealed that Chris had surprisingly changed teams and joined Parker Schnabel’s operation. Why?
The issue was never discussed, and he never made a statement about it, although it’s pretty easy to make assumptions. Chris knew that Klondike was the right place to search for gold, and in the fourth season, the Hoffman’s headed to Guyana to search for gold, documented in the series “Gold Rush: Jungle.” Hoffman and his crew members initially traveled to Guyana between the second and third seasons to determine the feasibility of starting a mining operation during Klondike off-seasons. Although they stumbled upon gold on the remote site, it was in such low quantities that it was determined to be unprofitable and financially unsustainable, given the enormous costs of mining in an inaccessible location. Even though the third season of the spin-off series left the fans on a cliffhanger, ending with doubt about whether the Hoffman’s would launch another operation, they did return to Guyana in the fourth season.
To all those who are asking, I m sorry but I can't help you get a job mining. I am just an employee. With the virus, it's almost impossible to get into the Yukon. You have to already have a job and tons of paper work. Again I am sorry I can't help.
— chris Doumitt (@ChrisDoumitt) February 4, 2022
The theory is that Chris knew that South America wasn’t a good or profitable idea, and instead joined the Schnabel family, who mined in the known-for-gold area in The Klondike. In addition, watching Todd and his operations for years has convinced many fans that he’s not the best boss – in the fifth season, several of his crew members chose to leave his operation due to what they saw as a series of his poor decisions.
The time would later show that this was an excellent idea for Chris, as he became an essential member of Parker’s crew. Furthermore, many fans believe that Chris is Parker’s secret weapon, and several moments on the show go to support this.
His Back Injury and Wife’s Cancer
The years 2016 and 2017 were more than challenging for Chris, who had his health issues. Similar to many others who are in the mining business, Chris injured his back as a result of years of repetitive movements. Back injuries are common among people in this industry as they’re physically active, and also operate machinery which has you sitting in the same spot for hours. Unfortunately, his back pain was so severe that he couldn’t move at one point.
To make things worse, his wife was diagnosed with cancer in the same period, which took a heavy toll on Chris. Reportedly, she was experiencing pain in her knee, but thought that she’d injured it somehow, and the pain was the result of that injury. However, the pain didn’t go away, so went to see a doctor and was shortly after diagnosed with bone cancer. She immediately began treatment, which proved vital for her recovery. Similar to many other forms of cancer, diagnosing bone cancer in its early stages is crucial – this probably saved his wife’s life. After numerous treatments and chemotherapy, her doctors notified her that her cancer was in remission.
Now, to return to Chris’ back injury – he underwent successful surgery, and has been pain-free ever since.
What is Chris Doing Now?
Chris is still a cast member in “Gold Rush,” Most recently, he appeared in the spin-off series “Gold Rush: Parker Trails, ” which aired in June 2022. Although it’s not confirmed, it’s believed that the show will have its 13th season which we expect will feature the cigar-obsessed Chris. Even though he’s been in the mining business for nearly 12 years now, doing the job and filming the series, Chris found something to diversify his working experience.
What would you expect him to create or launch, as someone who walks around with a cigar? Well, you probably guessed it – in 2017, Chris and his long-time friend Harry DeWolf co-founded a cigar company entitled Doumitt Gold Cigar, which sells smoking accessories and golf equipment. However, cigars are not his only passion – he is very passionate about wine, and is considered a wine connoisseur. He makes his own wine- “hooch,” as he named it, and has even brought it for testing to his “Gold Rush” crew.
Thanks to his presence on “Gold Rush,” he’s amassed a decent following on Instagram, currently boasting over 50,000. Unfortunately, he’s not the most active user, and updates his fans only every couple of months.
Is the show scripted?
Similar to any other reality show, “Gold Rush” has been criticized for allegedly scripted content, and too much editing. Although some fans seem to have made up their mind about the series and declared it fake, Chris was asked by a fan, ‘…is any part of the show scripted’ and this is what he replied: ‘It’s not scripted. Every dumb thing you see us do or say, we thought that up on our own. We might be directed, and they keep asking a question ‘til they get the answer they want, but no, it’s not scripted; we make it all up, sorry guys.’
Many rushed to point out that disclosing such information was not in his interest, which could have got him into trouble for ‘breaking the reality bubble.’ However, Chris is not the only cast member who spoke about the show. In 2016, Jimmy Dorsey left the show following an altercation with another cast member. Although contradictory, some parts of Jimmy’s statement coincide with Chris’s: ‘It is scripted from the beginning. They knew exactly what they wanted to see out of the program. Even my leaving was scripted, but the way in which it happened was not. They actually direct you into these situations. It became very real. That’s why I got my ribs broken. I was assaulted by Greg”. He also said that although Greg broke his ribs, that fight was in the script for episode four, ending in episode six, from where he exited the show.
According to his lengthy interview, he shared that even though they didn’t tell him what to say precisely, they pushed him to get the answers they wanted. In his last episode, they allegedly led him to say that if he didn’t find gold in seventy hours, he would leave the show and the operation, disclosing: ‘They push you toward saying I was going to leave if we didn’t find gold. It was never my intention to leave. My plan was to stay the entire summer and see it out. I didn’t think we had a good show unless we got gold, and I wasn’t making very much money from the show.’
Did you know Todd Hoffman is a singer?
Although music and mining do not seem to go hand in hand, Todd Hoffman has been pursuing a music career for years, and has achieved moderate success. If you remember the eighth season of the show, you know that Todd and his crew weren’t – why? Well, Todd, the man of many trades, wanted to focus more on his singing career and YouTube channel.
Even though he launched the channel in 2012, he only posted his first video in 2014, making covers of various songs by metal and rock bands. His most famous and watched video is the cover of “Sounds of Silence,” which currently boasts 15 million views. Although the original performers, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, did a great job, watching Todd cover it just hits differently, knowing that he had spent years of his life in the dirt, digging for gold.
In an interview, he was asked about his plans and singing career – he said: ‘Who knows. Stranger things have happened. I want to break it big. I want to hit it out of the park.’ His last cover of “Angel of Mercy” by Black Label Society was posted in May 2022. Regardless of his singing career, he still has the itch for gold, which won’t go away any time soon. On the contrary, Todd got his own spin-off series, “Hoffman Family Gold,” which premiered in February 2022.
How much does Parker Schnabel pay his crew?
When you watch a show centered on highly precious, coveted, and expensive metals, it’s natural that you ask about the crew’s earnings, and the financial sustainability of such a career. Furthermore, it’s well known that launching major mining operations calls for massive capital injection, before even getting into the digging which is unstable, and no one can guarantee significant findings.
Given that this is such a frequent question, Parker went on Reddit to please the people’s curiosity about the crew’s paychecks. The young miner disclosed that he pays his team between $28 and $34 per hour, and they usually do 75 hours a week. Mining is a seasonal business, so the team works non-stop during the season and then goes on a well-deserved break. With overtime, the crew’s salary is about $2,600 per week.
Parker explained: “We usually work about ~25 weeks so gross earnings would be around 65K pre bonus for a starting employee. Which I think works out to around 40k net, which is what I probably meant by saying 40k to drive a rock truck for the season. So the median wage is probably more in the $34/hr range.”
On top of that, he also has bonuses for his workers. Although he didn’t reveal how much precisely this bonus was, he described it as ‘significant’. Many fans disclosed that the pay was slightly higher than expected, and one could make a decent living with it. However, not everyone is meant for gold digging, as it requires physical readiness and stamina to put in long hours.
If anyone knows how it feels going through living hell, that is Chris Doumitt! As if his own health issues weren’t enough, he also had to watch the love of his life go through a painful journey, which had a happy ending. Luckily, Chris is a tough nut to crack, and a survivor who always comes out on top!