Pawn Stars has been a veritable success story on the History Channel since its start in 2009.
Through the years, Rick Harrison and Richard Benjamin “The Old Man” Harrison have become huge reality television stars. A number of years ago, Chumlee – Rick’s son Corey’s best friend – also turned into something of a celebrity.
Chumlee, whose real name is Austin Russell, started working at the shop and became widely popular among the fans. Following a number of tough years, he’s now decided to turn his life around in a big way.
Through his Facebook page, Chumlee revealed that he’s lost more than 150 pounds – and he looks amazing!
Pawning has always been a big form of consumer credit in the United States, or at least it was up until the 1950s. Still to this day, there are pawnshops almost everywhere that help people manage to get through the day. Not only that, but the shops themselves can sometimes be like taking a walk through history!
No matter what you want to pawn, be it a gold watch, old autographs, coins, or a sword, there’s usually always an expert around that can help you.
Talking of experts, perhaps the colorful world of pawning is best demonstrated by taking a look inside the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Harrison family – and Corey’s childhood friend, Chumlee – has run the shop for a long time, and turned themselves into celebrities via the reality program Pawn Stars.
These days, Rick Harrison runs the shop following the passing of his father Richard Benjamin “The Old Man” Harrison, in 2018. Rick was beside his father when he started the shop and received no real education since he was a high-school dropout.
Now, we’re going to go on record with saying that it’s always a good idea to get yourself a proper education. For Rick, though, things worked out great anyway, and his future definitely looks both promising and profitable.
Today, the store has thousands of items in its inventory. The pawnshop scaled even greater heights in 2009 when it got picked up for a show on the History Channel, famously known as Pawn Stars.
The show has since been a massive success. Rick Harrison and his family members won the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for Best Television Series in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In addition, the show has been nominated for three Critics Choice Television Awards.
“I’m just a fat pawnbroker”
In the beginning, though, Rick’s father didn’t like the idea of doing the show.
“He thought it was the craziest, stupidest thing he’d ever heard,” Harrison told Review-Journal.
“I remember telling him, ‘Dad, you’ve got to come in Saturday for the sizzle reel.’ And he looks at me and says, ‘Rick, you’re never getting a bleeping TV show. It’s just not going to happen.’ I begged him to come in that Saturday. But we had to have him. He was the grumpy old man that everyone loves.”
“At first, I just thought a season or two would be good for business,” he added. “It’s really bizarre. I’m just a fat pawnbroker, and now I’m known all over the world.”
Pawn Stars has been airing since 2009, and during the course of that time there have been a staggering 637 episodes. Even though the pandemic was – and still is – a serious problem, History Channel shot 17 episodes for the 18th season of the show in July of 2020; the last episode aired in May of 2021.
Rick Harrison, his father “Old Man”, and his brother Corey became stars. However, there was also a non-family member who pretty much became the most popular cast member …
Austin Russell, more famously known as Chumlee.
Born on September 8, 1982, in Henderson, Nevada, Chumlee has been around the shop since he was a little kid. According to History Channel, he got his nickname after friends likened him to the sidekick of cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo. That sidekick was also named Chumley.
Chumlee – ‘Pawn Stars’
As a devoted and great childhood friend of Corey Harrison – Rick’s son – Chumlee got to experience how the pawn business worked. When he grew older, he started working in the pawnshop itself, though Chumlee wasn’t mainly seen in the store itself.
He started working in the shop before Pawn Stars aired, but in the beginning, Chumlee wasn’t a cast member. That all changed as the show evolved.
“They were making a short episode and we had about 12 employees at the time,” Chumlee recalled on the podcast PodKats! “They went through everybody, saying, ‘All right, who’s going to be our fourth member?’
“I didn’t watch too much TV, but I decided I’d go watch some TV, some reality shows, and I kind of realized 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.”
It turned out that Chumlee was the perfect person for that role. He always had a smile on his face, and quickly became the primary “comedian” on Pawn Stars. Ultimately, his conclusion was a big success.
These days, Chumlee is widely considered to be the most popular cast member from Pawn Stars. First and foremost, he made people laugh on the show – all the way to the bank.
Fans of the show have followed the Harrison family business in Las Vegas for more than a decade. In 2018, though, the family suffered a tragic loss when Richard “Old Man” Harrison passed away agee 77 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Chumlee – work at the pawnshop
Following his passing, Rick paid a beautiful tribute to his father. Though Chumlee wasn’t a relative, it was a very tough time for him as well.
“We wouldn’t have what we have without him. I mean, right from the pawnshop to the television show,” Chumlee told Looper.
“So his presence has always felt, we actually have his office decorated, still how he left it and we’ve got lots of pictures of him with the staff on bulletin boards hanging around and he’s still very, very well there. We feel him every day there and he’s going to be a part of this forever.
“I think the reason I loved him so much, and I think so many fans loved him, is that he either reminds you of your dad or your grandfather or somebody else, that cranky old guy that we love so much. He just says anything he wants — he just doesn’t care.”
Chumlee has risen through the ranks at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. He began working behind the counter, but later on got Rick Harrison’s blessing to do his own deals.
Some of those deals have been great for the pawnshop, though not all of them worked out for Chumlee.
At the same time as he’s worked on Pawn Stars, Chumlee made sure to expand his own business as well. He’s the owner of Chumlee’s Candy Shop, where he sells candy, clothes and different accessories.
Chumlee’s inspiring weight loss
Perhaps that could be something for him to expand on in the future. Who knows, maybe Chumlee will get his own show?
“I would do a spinoff show, but everyone says the grass is greener on the other side,” Chumlee explained.
“But we love doing Pawn Stars, takes us about seven months to film it out of the year. I just don’t know if there’s enough in the candy shop, it’s in the shipping container right there.
“What I think we should do is a spinoff of the whole pawn [area]. There’s the barbecue next to me, I’ve got the candy shop, you know what I mean, Corey can have the pizza.”
The last few years have been a rollercoaster for Chumlee. His weight has gone up and down his whole life, and at one point he weighed as much as 350 pounds.
Corey Harrison lost almost 200 pounds through a new diet and exercise, inspiring Chumlee to change his lifestyle completely.
He felt that enough was enough and decided to do something about it. That proved to be the beginning of an inspirational journey.
“I went in and tested for sleep apnea, I had to do something about it,” he said. “I got the machine and it just wasn’t that great, so I went to the doctor, just to get a consultation on getting a balloon, and by the time I left, he had me signed up to get all my procedures done to get a lap band. I’m sorry, not a lap band, a gastric sleeve. I mess it up. A gastric sleeve.
Lost over 150 pounds
“They actually cut my stomach out and sewed it back up into a six-inch pouch and it settles somewhere around eight or nine inches, they say. And that’s been the tool I needed because it’s still a mental battle. I still have that mental battle. I always tell people I got that big because I enjoy eating food. Enjoyed the taste of it, it’s comforting.
“So I got the surgery, it’s helped me, it’s been a mental battle. I stay in the gym, but I try to go not continuously in there. I try to go there three days a week, I miss weeks here and there, but I just try to stay focused and eat well and live healthy.”
On October 5, 2021, Chumlee posted two pictures of himself on Facebook, showing himself before and after his weight loss. All we can say is wow! Doesn’t he look great?!
“Can you believe it, I’ve lost over 150lbs !! How many people out there have always struggled with your weight like I did?” he wrote.
“What has been the hardest part about losing weight for you? Drop your questions below!! I want to see how I can help you out.”
“He’s committed to maintaining his weight by eating clean, healthy food and getting his sweat on,” a source told TMZ of the reality star’s inspiring weight-loss journey.
“He said it’s also important to have a support structure around you.”
“Success shouldn’t change you”
Through his Instagram page – which has over 570,000 followers – Chumlee has decided to motivate and help others. In 2020, he explained that you should always remain grounded.
“Success shouldn’t change you,” he said.
“Any more than you’re normally, naturally gonna change and evolve as a person, which I think everyone does. But, if you let success change you, you’re not being true to yourself. I just stay true to myself, and if I make myself happy, along the way, I’m sure plenty of other people will be happy.”
Chumlee has been through a lot, and now he’s finally turned his life around. His weight loss is simply inspirational. We felt we had to share it – hopefully, you will too.
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