The Big Secret “Pawn Stars” Doesn’t Want You to Know

In Las Vegas, there’s always more to the story, and the story behind the story of “Pawn Stars” is a shocker.

“Pawn Stars,” of course, is the hugely popular “reality” series based in downtown Las Vegas at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.

The colorful cast of “characters” are iconic at this point: Rick Harrison, Corey Harrison, “Chumlee” Russell and the recently-deceased Richard “Old Man” Harrison.

Pawn Stars

We miss the “Old Man” because he was our crotchety spirit animal.

This History channel juggernaut has indeed made history. It made its debut in 2009 and has become one of the most successful reality shows of all time.

Here’s where we get to the secret.

Thanks for reading this far. We know you’re busy.

With the success of “Pawn Stars,” business at Gold & Silver Pawn Shop went off the chart. Fans of the show swarmed the shop, often standing in line to try and get a look inside the store or even a brief glimpse of the cast.

Over time, it became virtually impossible to shoot the show inside the pawn shop.

Pawn Stars

The popularity of “Pawn Star” has presented some challenges.

That’s when the producers of the show got clever.

They built a duplicate pawn shop on the premises, but out of sight of the public.

The pawn shop clone allowed production to happen without interrupting business in the real pawn shop.

That’s right. Most of the “Pawn Stars” you see is taped on a set, not in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop proper.

We’ll wait while your mind is blown.

Pawn Stars set

Not the pawn shop! Also, no Santa, Loch Ness, ghosts, leprechauns, angels or free drinks in casinos. Sorry!

Once you realize there’s a look-alike pawn shop, it’s hard to watch the show in quite the same way.

You can’t help but notice the front door is different. The real door is translucent (you can see people and traffic outside), but the on-set door is opaque (see photo above).

Even the signs over the entrance are a little bit off.

Pawn Stars fake set

These guys aren’t just great at spotting forgeries, they’re pretty good at creating them.

You’ll also start to notice the merchandise on the walls changes whenever the show pans the real interior of the shop and the alternate “Pawn Stars” universe.

The producers did a pretty convincing job of replicating the shop, but the differences aren’t hard to spot.

These days, it’s rare to see members of the cast in the store, and they don’t actually take part in any of the pawn shop business. From what we understand, the shop makes far more from the show and sightseers than it does from the pawn business.

Some visitors do get to interact with the cast, but they’re unpaid “extras” pulled from the shop floor to take part in production.

“Extras” are instructed to act naturally, including not looking at the stars during taping. Next time you watch “Pawn Stars,” take note of how nonplussed those “customers” in the background are.

Pawn Stars fake shop

“TV show? What TV show? We’re just here to look at jewelry, coins and items of historical significance.”

While we’re disillusioning you, we may as well also share the haggling on the show isn’t real, either.

Prices are finalized before filming begins, so the back-and-forth and trademark “What are you looking to get out of it?” is straight-up entertainment.

Fun fact: You’ll never see the “Pawn Stars” guys make the first offer on anything. That’s rule number one of any negotiation, pawn shop or not.

Also, perhaps not surprisingly, the cast doesn’t just know all that history. They’re prompted by staff and provided historical background, often right on the set.

Beauty & Essex

This pawn shop is absolutely real. It also happens to be at Cosmopolitan.

Does any of this inside skinny diminish our enjoyment of “Pawn Stars”? Hell, no.

There’s a reason the series is so successful. Every seller, no matter how pre-screened they are, brings with them a discovery of some sort, a potential treasure.

It’s wildly entertaining to see delusional people who think their trinket is worth infinitely more than it is, and it’s equally fun to watch someone learn their throwaway keepsake is worth a fortune.

Rick, Corey and Chum are infinitely watchable as they exhibit an uncanny knowledge of things they’d probably never heard of prior to whatever episode they’re taping that day. It’s worth noting Rick Harrison is a trivia buff, so he knows a lot, just not hundreds of episodes worth.

Chumlee candy shop

You have a better chance of spotting Chumlee at his candy store at Pawn Plaza, right next to the pawn shop.

In yet another twist, an episode of “iCarly” was filmed on a look-alike “Pawn Stars” set, apparently built just for the episode. We would “investigate” this further, but we are “lazy” and aren’t really all that motivated to “do anything” other than “drinking and gambling and putting things in parentheses.”

iCarly Pawn Stars

The Hollywood version of the “Pawn Stars” comes complete with carpeting and teens.

It’s fun to stop by Gold & Silver Pawn, and the lines haven’t been nearly as long during the pandemic, so there’s never been a better time to visit.

Just don’t get your hopes up about meeting the cast or being on “Pawn Stars.”

We’re sorry and you’re welcome.

14 thoughts on “The Big Secret “Pawn Stars” Doesn’t Want You to Know

  1. Jason Ghiselin

    I love the simulated reality of reality TV. Friends tell a great story of one of those “$1,000-and-48-hours” type room renovation shows being filmed in their neighborhood. There was a garage sale happening on their block, they think unconnected to the show, but who knows (?)…and they saw a delivery truck shop and drop off a couch at the sale…and, I’m sure you can guess, when the show aired the designer “discovered” the perfect couch for the room at that yard sale!

    Reply
  2. Andrea

    Ok so,it’s a show,it’s all staged,from filming set to price negotiations. Wow,seriuosly,who would have never guessed that ? Just unbelivable,I’m so terribly shocked ! What a disappointment,I’ll never ever watch the show again. Any other news worth reading today ?

    Reply
    1. Sven

      omg ๐Ÿ™‚ i hop eyou are kidding with that respons, we ALL know it’s a show, ever been there ? you cant film and close the store, thats bad for business

      Reply
  3. Mike Alexakis

    ChumLee is not an expert on 14th Century pottery? Corey was reading cue cards when he squeezed out that righteous wisdom about collectable urinal cakes? Say it aint so… Leave Counting Cars alone, I cant handle truth bombs about my idol and namesake Horny Mike, don’t tell me Horney Mike used to manage the kids ball room at Ikea, or that he once was arrested by the Secret Service for counterfeit S&H Green Stamps… Some things are better left unsaid, excuse me while I go check out Storage Wars, I heard Darryl The Gambler paid for his education by rounding up a Three Card Monty strike team…

    Reply
  4. Vegas Regular

    Yawn. We heard this big secret several years ago during one of those stimulating chats that occur around a poker table at 4:30 in the morning. No one looked up from their cards.

    Reply
  5. Michelle

    I stopped watching years ago because the haggling is so fake. Not worth watching anymore, and I live in Vegas (40 years).

    Reply
    1. Adam

      If I remember correctly they filmed im the store for the first few seasons but it started really causing issues with normal business operations as they had to close to the public to film so they built the set. I remember I used to watch the show all the time with my grandpa back before but haven’t seen a single episode sine he passed in 2014 and I didn’t even know it was still going.

      Reply
  6. William Wingo

    I was already disillusioned, but I’m used to being lied to on television. Once on TV I saw a giant ape climb the Empire State Building and get shot down by World War I airplanes; then later, I learned that didn’t really happen.
    And then there’s politics….

    Reply
  7. Mike Alexakis

    Pro wrestling is fake, duh, but millions watch it… Obviously Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and Storage Wars are fake, no production company can afford to film real life for hours and hours in the hope that something interesting for television viewers will happen. I still watch because I like it, I actually dislike the principals of Pawn Stars, but I like the principles of Counting Cars and American Pickers. Reality television is an oxymoron, but the people who watch it are not necessarily morons, some are, some are not…

    Reply
  8. Glenn T

    I was in that pawn shop several years ago just before they started filming. They kicked out all of the real customers except for a few “extras” who would be milling about in the background, then brought in the Pawn Stars guys in and started filming. The guys you see on TV are never in there when the store is actually open for customers.

    Reply

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