Rick Harrison is an American reality television personality and the owner of the Gold and Silver Pawnshop in Las Vegas, Nevada. The store was originally opened by Rick and his father in 1989, but he has been the sole owner since Richard “Old Man” Harrison passed away in 2018. Rick is one of the stars of the reality series “Pawn Stars” on the History channel.
“Pawn Stars” has been on air since 2009, when it was the channel’s highest-rated show and the second-ranked reality show in the U.S. When the show debuted, it starred Rick, his father, his son Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, and Austin “Chumlee” Russell. The series shows the interpersonal relationships and conflicts among the cast and has been described as a combination of “Antiques Roadshow” and “Cops.”
The series showcases the interactions between the staff of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and their customers. The clientele brings in artifacts and other valuable items to be appraised and then sold or pawned. You can see some of the customers try to negotiate or haggle on the value of the items throughout the show. Rick also takes the time to explain the history of each piece.
In season seven of the series, Corey said that he would leave the shop if he wasn’t given a stake in the company. His father agreed, with some convincing, and Rick gave Corey a 5% stake with the opportunity to earn more in the future. Corey is the current manager of the pawnshop and is said to make the majority of the purchases for the establishment. Keep reading to learn more about Rick’s life and to see how Corey looks after a transformative weight loss.
Rick was born in Lexington, North Carolina, on March 22, 1965. He is the third child of Richard “Old Man” Harrison and Joanne Rhue Harrison. His father was in the U.S. Navy prior to owning his pawn business. As a child, Rick suffered from epileptic seizures that began at the age of eight. This condition would confine him to bed for long periods of time, and this led to Rick’s lifelong love of reading.
After his father’s passing, Rick and the entire crew of “Pawn Stars” were devastated. He told Fox News: “I think about him every day. I had a different relationship with him. Most people, when they turn 18, they go off to school, get a job and move out. I worked with my father from the time I was a kid. He stayed in the Navy for years because of me. Otherwise, it would have been really difficult with my medical expenses. But despite my epilepsy, he never treated me differently.”
Rick speaks highly of his father and credits him for teaching him many valuable lessons throughout his life. “He really changed my perspective on life and how words have meaning. That was one of the greatest life lessons he ever gave me… He was just an amazing individual. He taught that no matter what, you always take care of your kids, your family. If you have kids, you’re a father for the rest of your life. He was an old-school kind of guy that I think we need more of,” said Rick.
Rick dropped out of high school in the tenth grade to “pursue his $2,000-a-week business of selling fake Gucci bags,” according to the History channel. The man began working in pawnshops when he was 13 and then saved up enough money to go into business with his father at 23.
When he was 17, Rick married his high school sweetheart Kim, and the couple had two sons together named Corey and Adam. Unfortunately, they divorced shortly after Adam was born in 1985.
Rick met his second wife, Tracy, nine months later, and they moved in together after six months and were married by the eighth-month mark of their relationship. Tracy helped take care of Corey and Adam, and she and the reality TV star had a son together, Jake. Tracy and Rick were together until their divorce in 2011.
The Gold And Silver Pawn Shop
After finally receiving their long-awaited pawn license, the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop opened for business in 1989. Previously, Rick and his father had opened a store called the Gold and Silver Coin Shop, but they felt opening a pawning business was a natural progression for their establishment.
The star explained how the pawning business works to NPR. Rick said, “Say you have a wedding band. You bring the wedding band into my store. I offer you $100 and you accept it. I give you the $100, plus a pawn ticket. You have 120 days to come back to my pawn shop and pick up your merchandise and pay me my money back.”
“If you come back in 30 days, you give me $115. I hand you the ring back and everything’s good in the world. Now, if you don’t pay me back,” he says, “I end up keeping the merchandise and I put it in my showcase for sale. Nothing goes on your credit report. No one chases you down to break any legs or anything like that. You just simply have lost your merchandise. It’s that simple.”
There are many challenges to owning a pawn business, and one major concern is buying or selling stolen items. Rick explained:
“Most people don’t realize how regulated the pawn industry is, especially where I’m at in Nevada. When I take something in pawn or I buy something, I just don’t take an ID. I take their driver’s license number, their height, their weight, their eye color, their build. I turn that into the local police department, and then I also turn it into Homeland Security. It’s part of the Patriot Act, and that goes to a central database online across the United States that checks for stolen items.”
Rick also shared with NPR that he bought a pair of stolen earrings once for $40,000 and then had to return the item to its rightful owner, meaning he was out quite a lot of money. “It’s the cost of doing business. That’s the way I look at it. … And Las Vegas is a crazy town at times. There’s a lot of high-end things I get. So you have to know about … really large diamonds, really expensive watches. … So it’s a lot different than most places,” explained the business owner.
Rick told Fox that his favorite items to see in the store are books. He said, “I collect books and one thing I would love to get are some books by Giordano Bruno, the martyr of science. He was absolutely one of the craziest figures in history. He was ultimately burned at the stake after being sentenced to death by the Roman Inquisition for his heretical ideas — everyone should learn about him at one point in their lives. His books were ultimately wiped out from existence. Obtaining one today is definitely up there for me.”
The businessman also said that he has never regretted making, or not making, any deals in the past. Rick said to Fox News:
“Whenever I talk about business to people, I always tell them, ‘If the deal’s not right, the deal’s not right. Just walk away.’ You can’t think later, ‘Maybe I should have bought this or that.’ It’s part of the business. Sometimes you have to be willing to walk away and not risk-taking on a bad deal. Imagine, you get people pretty much coming in every day and they’re expecting this huge amount of money for something they found in their attic. And in reality, it’s like no, that’s not worth what he or she is expecting.”
“Pawn Stars” has been on the air for 17 seasons now, with 577 episodes. The show is hugely successful and has fans from all around the world. The staff who work at the pawnshop are now celebrities in their own right. Rick explained to Fox News why he thinks the show has been so successful:
“I think it’s a lot of things. First off, most reality shows are pretty much scripted. Mine is not. And it’s truly different every week. You can have a show about motorcycles or cars, but there’s only so much you can do with a motorcycle or a car every week. And people want to learn, but they don’t want to feel like they’re sitting around with a professor. I give all the history lessons and I make learning entertaining on the show.”
With so many years under his belt, Rick still isn’t tired of making the show. He said he would go on making it “as long as it’s fun and still a blast.”
He added, “One of the greatest things about my show is that it continues to be interesting. It continues to surprise me. We can come across an 1890s personal printing press one day or a Viking bracelet on another day. I’ve dealt with coins that are 3,000 years old and then lunch boxes from the ’70s. It continues to be fun for me and it’s still a highly rated show on television. Maybe 20 years from now I might be too old to continue doing it but right now it brings everything that I love together. The chance to highlight these historical artifacts keeps me going.”
Rick also mentioned that most of the clients that come into the store and agree to be on the show are not there to pawn. He explained:
“The people pawning goods never want to be on the show, And the reason behind that is because when people are pawning something, they’re getting a loan and have to admit they’re broke. … When people are selling something, it’s a financial transaction and it’s just perceived differently.”
Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison
Corey was born Richard Corey Harrison on April 27, 1983, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He began working in his dad and grandfather’s pawnshop when he was nine, polishing knobs and being of help. According to “Pawn Stars,” Corey is currently the day-to-day operations manager of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and oversees 30 employees.
In 2010, Corey weighed over 400 pounds and was told by a doctor that he would have to be treated for diabetes if he did not slim down. Corey said to People in 2014, “I literally drove straight from the doctor to the lap band center and had the surgery almost immediately. Back then, the surgery was too expensive for my bank account, so I had to pay with four credit cards, but it was something I had to do – I was not going to get diabetes!”
Corey was able to lose 50 pounds in his first six weeks post-surgery and then dropped another 100 within the first year. After starting his weight loss journey, Corey said, “I could never go back to weighing as much as I did. It made me realize what I ate, how I ate and what I did to myself. It was a WOW moment.”
After losing nearly 200 pounds since getting the gastric surgery, Corey can get back to doing what he enjoys. “I’m actually excited to go to the gym now. When I was a teenager I loved snowboarding, but in my 20s I was too big to strap my feet on the boards. Being able to finally touch my toes made me realize I could snowboard again, so I went out and got new gear immediately,” he shared.
Corey also said with a laugh, “When I meet fans, they are always congratulating me on the weight loss. They actually say, ‘You look just like that guy from Pawn Stars, but you are a lot skinnier and better looking than him.’ I say, ‘trust me, if I were going to pretend to be someone, it wouldn’t be that guy from Pawn Stars.'”
Corey is 38 in 2021 and has been through two divorces. He was divorced from his first wife, Charlene, in 2015. He then married Kiki Nejo Harrison in 2017, and their divorce was finalized a year later while Kiki was still pregnant with their son, who is named after Corey’s grandfather, Richard Benjamin Harrison.
Corey said that it was his and Kiki’s conflicting work schedules that were the reason behind their amicable split. However, he added that they will still remain friends. The couple’s divorce was expedited, and a child custody agreement was established at the same time.
After his first divorce, Corey had a short-lived relationship with Roxy Gonzalez. However, they decided to go separate ways after a short time.
“Pawn Stars” is on its 18th season in 2021 after taking a break from filming in 2020 due to the global health crisis. Corey is still following in his father’s footsteps and working in the shop. He is said to make the most purchases out of any of the other employees. Hopefully, one day, the store will be his, and Corey will be able to pass it on to his own son.