Richard Harrison is an American businessman who owns the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is also a reality television personality. He rose to fame with the series “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel. Rick Harrison’s net worth is estimated at around $9 million.
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is among the top tourist attractions in Las Vegas and attracts thousands of people every day. Let’s dive into his career, net worth, and life story to see what insights we can learn from the popular television personality.
Rick Harrison Net Worth Breakdown
Since Harrison’s business empire is held privately and not through a publicly traded company, we cannot put an exact number to his net worth. However, we were able to collect as much public information about his various sources of income, investments, assets, and business ventures as we could to estimate his net worth at well over $9 million as of 2023.
|Asset or Income Source
|Contribution to Net Worth
|Income from Pawn Stars
|~$100,000 per episode
|Real estate value
|Stock and precious metals investments
|Value of share in pawn shop
|Total Net Worth
Rick Harrison’s Early Life
Richard Kevin Harrison was born on March 22, 1965, in Lexington, North Carolina, and was the third child of Joanne Harrison and Richard Benjamin Harrison Jr. – a U.S. Navy veteran. In 1967, the family relocated to San Diego, California due to his father’s transfer.
Harrison had limited formal education and attended Taft Middle School, part of the San Diego Unified School District, only to drop out in high school to pursue his $2,000-a-week business of selling fake Gucci bags. While he isn’t exactly proud of this gig, the knowledge of spotting fakes from real bags would come in handy when he entered the pawn business later in his life.
Harrison’s early life was quite tough and he developed epilepsy when he was quite young. He said, “I developed epilepsy when I was eight years old and I would have violent seizures, and I would – literally, I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t walk – sometimes I couldn’t walk for a week or two, and my mom went to the library.”
With her mom being a librarian, he developed a bond with books and was particularly interested in history and physics.
Harrison’s mother got her real estate license in 1970 and opened her office three years later. When his father Richard Benjamin Harrison Jr. was discharged from the Navy, he too joined the real estate business albeit part-time.
However, in the early 1980s, the Fed was on a rate hike spree to contain high inflation – just as it was in 2022 when US inflation incidentally rose to the highest level since the 1980s. Fed’s rate hike worked to the detriment of the real estate business and Harrison’s real estate business also suffered massive losses.
They relocated to Las Vegas in 1980 after their real estate business collapsed with savings of only $5,000.
Rick Harrison Net Worth: His First Business Venture
In 1981, Rick Harrison and his father started the Gold & Silver Coin Shop in a 300-square-foot shop in Las Vegas. Being a “hustler” from early on, Harrison worked at the store during the mornings while repossessing cars at night.
They operated the store at the same location for five long years and shifted to a bigger location at Fremont Street – but lost their lease two years later.
Rick Harrison Net Worth: Diving Into Pawn Shop Ownership
Rick Harrison’s transition into the pawn shop business is also a fascinating story. Harrison mentioned in his autobiography that he believed that converting their gold and silver shop into a pawn shop was a “logical progression.” But there was a catch – the antiquated license laws of Las Vegas mandated that new licenses were to be issued only once the city’s population surpassed 250,000.
As Harrison said, “Apparently in 1955, the good old boys got together and they passed the city ordinance saying they’d issue one more pawn license when the city population got to a quarter of a million.”
Since the population was below that level new licenses were not being issued and as a result those already having them were selling them to buyers for as high as a million dollars. Harrison did not have that much money so a pawn license looked out of bounds for him. However, he soon discovered that the population of Las Vegas was starting to near 250,000 so he started checking it regularly.
“I start calling the city statistician once a week, once every two weeks. And [in] April of ’88, he goes, ‘Yeah, we think it’s a quarter of a million,'” said Harrison.
One fine day, the statistician told Harrison “I believe we are over 250,000.” However, getting a pawn shop license wasn’t that easy for him and he had to slog it out. As Harrison said, “They didn’t give it to me. But six months later, a judge said, he was the first one there, “Give him the license.”
Harrison paid only around $50 for the license was a tiny fraction of what those already holding the license were asking for.
With the license in hand, Rick Harrison and his father opened the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in 1989 at 713 Las Vegas Boulevard South, which is just about 2 miles from the Las Vegas strip.
Rick Harrison Net Worth: Growing the Pawn Shop
A pawn shop license did not guarantee success as there were large nationwide pawn chains that Harrison needed to compete with. One of the ways through which Harrison managed to achieve early success was to set the business up differently and target a niche market.
“As a small business owner with big competition, we had to figure out a way to be different. We saw an opportunity to invite people to sell their rare and unusual items at our shop, in addition to conducting our usual pawn business. Now, when the big corporate pawn shops get an item, they don’t recognize, they send the customer to us,” said Harrison.
Harrison also had a knack for spotting fakes and used the knowledge to grow the pawn shop business. As the website of his pawn shop puts it,
“Utilizing his encyclopedic knowledge gleaned from a lifetime of voracious reading, he could spot the value in oddities, antiques, historical artifacts, art, and the like. The business acquired a bit of a reputation as that quirky spot on Las Vegas Boulevard where you could find Rembrandts, a 400-year-old Samurai Sword, or a diamond-encrusted Super Bowl championship Ring.”
Rick Harrison Net Worth: Launching “Pawn Stars”
Harrison rose to fame with the “Pawn Stars” show on History channel which has over 630 episodes spread across 21 seasons. Apart from Rick Harrison, the following are the cast of the popular show
- “The Old Man”: Harrison’s father was among the cast of the Pawn Stars before he died in 2018 battling Parkinson’s disease.
- Corrie Harrison: Rick Harrison’s son Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison also stars on the Pawn Stars show. He started working at the pawn shop when he was only 9 and like his father he is also trained in appraisal.
- Chumlee Russel: Chumlee Russel is Corrie Harrison’s childhood friend and has been at the pawn shop since he was a child. His original name is Austin Russel but got the nickname “Chumlee” at the elementary school derived from the cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo’s sidekick Chumley who was a walrus. He has since left the show and was arrested on gun and drug charges.
He got the idea for a television show about his pawn store after a 2001 documentary on PBS featured his store and later when it was the subject of the popular Comedy Central show Insomniac in 2003.
It seems like Pawn Stars was always popular but Harrison’s reality TV foray was just as arduous as his previous ventures and he had to slog it out before it blew up.
Harrison got Leftfield Productions to shoot the reel and the crew agreed to do so on a Saturday. The senior Harrison hated that decision as he normally took the weekends off. It took a lot of persuading to get “The Old Man” to agree to shoot on a Saturday but even after they were successful, his father did not believe that their show would go on air.
“RICK! YOU ARE NEVER GETTING A DAMN TV SHOW!” yelled the elder Harrison to his son.
Harrison pitched the idea to several houses in vain before The History Channel agreed to feature the show and it eventually went live in July 2009.
Rick Harrison’s Investments
We don’t know much about Rick Harrison’s investments but in March 2021, he sold his two-story, five-bedroom home in Red Rock Country Club in Las Vegas for $3.15 million after having reportedly listed it for sale for almost $4 million in 2019.
Harrison has also earned quite a bit of money from various endorsements and promotions.
For example. in 2022, he endorsed the gold IRA investing company American Hartford Gold and said, “I like to call in the experts, so I called American Hartford Gold. They can show you how to safeguard your hard-earned savings against inflation by helping you diversify your portfolio with physical gold and silver.”
Harrison’s love for precious metals is reflected in his portfolio as well. A decade back when asked about his investing strategy, Harrison said, “I do a little bit of everything” while adding “I have an advisor who does some investing for me, but I also do some of my own.”
He said that 80% of his portfolio was in blue chip companies while 10% was in gold in silver which he believes works as an insurance policy. He kept 10% for a “little crazy fun with” and said, “You may not always win with that 10% but eventually you will get that rocket.”
Even though we know the general split of his portfolio, he still hasn’t revealed how much his investments are worth.
When it comes to his retirement, he once said, “Ten years ago I tried to slow down and sell many of my businesses, but within a of couple years I had a bunch more. Work is in my blood, but we’ll see. When the show ends, which it will, simply because it’s TV and that’s what happens, then I’ll have to think about it. If I’m still having fun, I’ll probably just stick with it.”
Rick Harrison on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies
In 2021, Harrison termed Dogecoin as “100% gambling” while turning to physical silver which was in short supply that year due to the COVID-19 supply restrictions. Incidentally, retail traders pushed for a silver short squeeze like the Gamestop squeeze in January 2021.
Harrison also wrote an autobiography “License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver” which discusses his life story as well as how he got into the pawn business.
Rick Harrison’s Controversies
Like many other celebrities, especially reality television stars, Rick Harrison’s life is also not free from controversies. Harrison’s mother has sued him over the family assets as well as the ownership of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.
In the lawsuit, Joanne Harrison alleges that when was sick and in a coma around 2000 or 2001, she was forced to sign over her 51% stake in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. She also alleged that when her husband and Rick Harrison’s father Richard Harrison (“The Old Man” on The Pawn Stars) died in 2018 she inherited his share of 49% in the pawn shop but hasn’t been provided any documentation of her finances by Rick.
She also claimed that she had been barred from accessing the family trust that “had accumulated approximately $500,000 worth of silver and at least $100,000 in cash.”
She said that while Harrison disbursed her some money every month after 2018, the payments stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Harrison meanwhile denied any wrongdoing and in his statement to the media he said, “I can say that the allegations are false and I think that my 81-year-old mother is being manipulated by others for their personal gain.”
In the past, his pawn shop courted controversy over melting stolen gold coins even as it was within the ambit of law.
What Can We Learn from Rick Harrison’s Life?
Just like any other celebrity, there are plenty of learnings from Rick Harrison’s life starting with his determination and never-say-die attitude. His determination and resolve form the backbone of his success in life, providing a valuable lesson to us all.
He knew he wanted to launch a pawn shop so he did everything he could to get one, even calling the city statistician over and over again to get a license for $50. His perseverance saved him a million dollars and set him up for an incredible career.
Harrison also didn’t back down when it looked like his dreams of launching his own reality TV show would be crushed. He pitched the idea to over a dozen production houses, only to be turned down. His father didn’t even believe in him but did he give up? No.
Harrison said, “Everyone kept telling me ‘You know, no one wants to watch four fat guys in a pawnshop.”
Harrison’s persistence and History Channel’s faith in him paid off and Pawn Stars” was not only the highest-rated premiere in the history of History Channel – but within a year it was the leading show on cable.
Also, Harrison overcame his epilepsy in childhood to become a millionaire. While not many gave him a chance due to his lack of formal education, he made it big with his determination and skills.
While the pawn shop laid the foundation for his success, Rick Harrison didn’t stop there and expanded his success to television which brought him both fame and money. His story is a testament to the value of persistence, taking risks, and exploring new avenues to become even more successful.