Anyone who has watched Pawn Stars knows how important Chumlee has been to the success of the show. Hired at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop five years before the show debuted, the man whose real name is Austin Lee Russell has seen his shares of ups and downs. From becoming an instant celebrity to being busted by the police, Russell's television family has stuck by his side through it all. This is everything you need to know about everyone's favorite Pawn Star, Chumlee.
He Has Dreams Of Breaking Into The Music Industry
When anyone signs up to star in a reality television show, they find out that money doesn't necessarily follow. It can take years for stars like Chumlee to finally see their paychecks match their celebrity status.
With that in mind, Chumlee has long been planning his push into the music industry. While working at the pawnshop, he began attending DJ school. He's been open about his desire to one day become a music scout in Las Vegas.
He Has His Own Brand
Once Pawn Stars became a massive hit, Chumlee turned himself in his own brand. Selling merchandise and showing up for personal appearances became a normal part of his life, and as his co-stars saw his success they followed suit.
The biggest investment into himself Chumlee has made so far is joining forces with Rick Harrison to sell paraphernalia and t-shirts with his brand. Unsurprisingly, one of the places you can buy Chumlee merchandise is at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
Chumlee Was A Customer Before He Became An Employee
The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop originally opened in 1989 and has had a loyal customer base ever since. Before becoming an employee at the shop, Chumlee hung around as a regular, making friends with the family that owned it.
While hanging around the shop as a kid, Chumlee became friends with Corey "Big Boss" Harrison. When it came time to become gainfully employed, Chumlee used his friendship with Corey to convince Rick Harrison to give him a job.
He Didn't Think He Would Be Cast In The Show
At the time Pawn Stars was being developed by History Channel, Chumlee didn't think he would be a part of the cast. There were ten other employees at the shop at the time, so competition for camera time was tough:
"They were looking for a fourth person to put in the show. I thought to myself, well, I've known these guys my whole life. We have good camaraderie, and I'm just going to be funny and joke with them like we would normally do, and not get nervous in front of the cameras, and it kind of worked out."
Tragedy Struck Before The Show Premiered
Pawn Stars debuted in 2009 and should have been a major celebration for Chumlee. Sadly, two weeks before the first episode aired tragedy struck. Chumlee's father had been battling pancreatic cancer and passed away.
Asked in an interview if there was anything Chumlee would never pawn he said, "Those would be the few items that my father has made. My father passed away two weeks before the show on TV. I could never sell or pawn that, but I could pretty much sell or pawn anything else."
He's Battled With His Weight
Watching Pawn Stars throughout the years means you have seen the transformation of Chumlee's body in front of your eyes. As a larger man with a potential for health problems, Chumlee became inspired to lose weight when "Big Boss" started living a healthier life.
By 2014, Chumlee had lost over 100 pounds. He credited cutting processed foods out of his diet and exercising more. Two years later he had put 50 pounds back on, admitting he was "tired of eating chicken and vegetables, six times a day, out of Tupperware."
Pawn Stars Stuck By Him
While in trouble with the law, it became unclear if the History Channel and the Discovery Channel would stand by Chumlee. One thing was certain though, his Pawn Stars family had his back and chose to stick by him.
Rick Harrison said, "We don't have details yet but are here to help Chumlee however we can." And Corey Harrison added, "Don't believe everything you hear. There are always three sides to a story, yours, theirs, and the truth."
The "Chumlee" Nickname Comes From A Cartoon
As you know, Chumlee is actually named Austin Lee Russell. His nickname comes from a cartoon, and he has had it since he was 12 years old. A childhood friend's dad made a joke one time about how he looked like the character Chumley from the cartoon Tennessee Tuxedo.
The nickname may have originally been a joke, but it stuck. The good news is that Chumlee has a good sense of humor about it, "I started introducing myself as Chumlee about a year or two later."
A $20,000 Mistake Nearly Cost Him His Job
Before Pawn Stars ever started filming, Chumlee made a massive mistake. He was pawning a stand-up bass when he leaned it against a wall. When he walked away, the bass fell over and shattered.
Unsure what to do, Chumlee packed the pieces into their case. He had a deal to sell the bass for $700 but wound up costing the shop $20,000. If Chumlee had done his research he would have found out that the bass was rare and would have handled it more carefully.
Sneakers Are His Addiction
One of the more surprising bits of trivia about Chumlee is that he is addicted to sneakers. During an episode of Pawn Stars in 2011, he admitted to owning over 40 pairs of Jordans.
Overall, Chumlee estimates he owns more than 200 pairs of shoes. His collection includes every major brand including Adidas, Nike, and Vans. His love of shoes became so widely known he was even featured by Complex, which took him shopping.
He's Not A Fan Of Fame
It's safe to say that, thanks to Pawn Stars, Chumlee is an accidental celebrity. And as much as he loves his job, he admits that being famous still makes him uncomfortable:
"I'm honestly probably the least approachable out of all of us in reality... I don't do well in conversation...I'm just very quiet and reserved for the most part. I've opened up a lot since the show [premiered], but Corey and Rick, they talk a lot more than I do."
He Opened His Own Candy Store
In May of 2017, Chumlee took a huge step in his life -- he became a business owner. He opened Chumlee's Candy on the Boulevard across the street from the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop with his business partner and brother Sage.
Chumlee and Sage run the day to day operations of the business. Now after pawning any valuable, fans of the show can take their money and spend it on candy while meeting one of the stars of the show!
Another Person Took His Website Name
One of the most important aspects of owning a business is having a functional website interested consumers can visit. Unfortunately, when Chumlee started his business, another person quickly purchased the possible domains he would use.
Chumlee has threatened that person, Patrick Keyes, with legal action. Keyes has reportedly admitted to buying the domains when he heard about the store. We don't know how much money he is trying to sell the domains for, but Chumlee might have no choice but to pay up.
He's A Diehard UNLV Fan
In Las Vegas, the choices of college sports teams to root for are limited. As a result, Chumlee has become a diehard fan of the University of Las Vegas -- specifically, their basketball program.
In 2014 Chumlee became a season ticket holder, and in the years since has become comfortable enough with his fame to critique the coaching staff. In one interview he said, "It's just an unfortunate situation that [they] seem to lack direction out there... I'm not pointing any fingers, and I don't know what the problem is, but we gotta get that talent to work together."
He Can't Work The Pawn Shop Counter Anymore
Even though it seems like Chumlee is always working the register on Pawn Stars, the truth is that when the show isn't filming, he can't. The problem is that if anyone showed up to the shop to take pictures of him, they would be compromising the privacy of whatever client he was working with.
That means that most segments with Chumlee, or anyone working the register on camera, are partially or fully staged to protect the customer.
Jon Bon Jovi Is A Big Fan
Unsurprisingly, stardom has brought Chumlee a legion of fans. Some of those fans, including Jon Bon Jovi, are even famous themselves. The iconic musician is such a big fan he has even met Chumlee and the other cast members.
Chumlee recalled once, "We went to his meet n' greet to meet his kids because they wanted a picture with us... He gave us front row tickets. That was pretty cool. When does Bon Jovi personally invite you to his show?”
He's Appeared On Other Shows
Pawn Stars isn't the only show that Chumlee has been seen on. Since becoming famous, he has been featured on late-night talk shows as well as other reality television shows.
Some highlights include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Pawnography, American Restoration, and Counting Cars. He has also gone behind the scenes and has produced documentaries including Driven: The Story of Tanner Godfrey. And did we mention his acting credits, which include kid's television series iCarly and the horror film Resurrection?
He's Worth Millions
Thanks to his co-starring role on Pawn Stars as well as his many other successful ventures, Chumlee is estimated to have a net value of $5 million. He doesn't shy away from showing off his wealth, either.
Not only does he have a massive sneaker collection, but he also owns multiple luxury lines including a Rolls Royce and Maserati. As his wealth continues to grow in the coming years, we can only guess what amazing things he might add to his collections.
Chumlee Was The Victim Of An Internet Death Hoax
In 2013, a website called the Internet Chronicle reported that Chumlee had passed away after an overdose. Fortunately, Chumlee was alive and well although he was forced to deal with the aftermath of being involved in an internet death hoax.
Snopes was quick to debunk the original story, but other hoaxes began popping up claiming that he had passed away after having a heart attack. Chumlee spoke out on social media to reassure fans. At one point he even tweeted, "May we live long, Rich forever."
Chumlee Was Set To Be Married
In March 2019 there were reports that Chumlee and his long-term girlfriend Olivia Rademann had a huge pre-wedding bash which was attended by friends and family, including lots of celebrity names.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal even quoted the groom-to-be as saying, "It's beautiful. I already feel like I’m married." However, there was never any public news about the wedding, which was supposedly set for May, and Rademann's Instagram account was removed at some point. Don't leave us in the dark!