When the History Channel first aired Pawn Stars, no one could have predicted it would be the breakout success it was. Following father and son, Rick and Corey Harrison who owned the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, fans took to the show like bees to honey. One breakout star from the reality series was good family friend Austin Russell who went by the name of Chumlee. The comedic relief of the show, his dimwit behavior and lack of knowledge on most subjects made him the butt of most jokes from fellow cast members.

Chumlee grew up around pawn shops, playing with his friend Corey and learning the tools of the trade. At the age of 21, he began working behind the counter of Rick Harrison’s shop, five years before the show would end up filming its first season. Now, eight years later and 12 seasons in the can, Chumlee is an international sensation. From Germany to Serbia to Japan and his hometown of Las Vegas, Chumlee has a legion of followers who have skyrocketed him to international success.

Not only does he star in Pawn Stars, but he runs his own clothing business that licenses out his image across the globe. Talk about a nice payday. He also makes public appearances in clubs, on TV shows and even has made cameos now and then.

However, the price of fame can sometimes be too much to bear. While Chumlee has seen success (his net worth is over $5 million), he’s also experienced many lows with his highs. From losing 75 pounds to gaining it all back again to being charged with over 20 felonies, the reality star has had to live out every moment of his life in the public eye. And while he’s definitely responsible for his own actions, it’s difficult to watch this funny man fall so far.

When it comes to Chumlee’s life and antics, there is so much to delve into. From his early days behind the counter to riding high in his own Escalade, there’s never been a dull moment. Here’s the story of Chumlee, the good, the bad and the ugly…so far.

1. The Man Behind the Persona


Chumlee’s real name is Austin Lee Russell, although he goes by his stage name most of the time. Beyond being a reality TV personality, he’s also an excellent businessman and an actor, although Pawn Stars will always be his claim to fame.

2. The Early Years


As a child, Chumlee spent most of his days in his friend’s father’s pawnshop. There he would watch the masters at work, learning the tools of the trade that would one day come in handy for his reality television stardom.

3. Before the Show

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Before starting the show, Chumlee actually began working at the pawn shop five years before the first season was even filmed. He was a very good friend of Corey Harrison whose father opened the shop back in 1989.

4. Origin of Nickname

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The nickname “Chumlee” was derived from the fact he has a large face and chin. His father made the name up, stating he looked like a walrus from the animated series, Tennessee Tuxedo. Since then, the name has simply stuck. We can kind of see the Walrus resemblance, don’t you?

5. First Job

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At the age of 21, Chumlee began to work for the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. He worked behind-the-counter, tested items and also wrote tickets for items being purchased by customers. This not only helped improve his sales skills, but assisted expanding his skill set so he could eventually run his own business.

6. Comedic Foil

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On the show, he’s often depicted as the comic relief and is often on the receiving end of jokes from the fellow workers. This is due to his lack of intelligence and incompetence, though how much of that is simply perceived vs. the truth has yet to be seen.

7. Hidden Talents

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According to Chumlee he is underestimated all the time, and that he’s skilled in areas his fellow co-workers aren’t. For example he is very knowledgeable about pinball machines. This actually came in handy during an episode where a couple brought in some classic pinball machines worth quite a pretty penny.

8. Rise to Fame

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After the show’s first season, it became a huge success. It garnered major ratings for the History Channel and the fans began going crazy for Chumlee. In fact, many of the show’s watchers have stated he’s the only reason they watch the show. Talk about a quick rise to fame, right?

9. New Business Plans

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Once the show took off, Chumlee launched his own company that sold novelty items, as well as  custom-designed t-shirts. He also took personal appearance gigs all over the country. However, he quickly learned he wasn’t the best business manager.

10. Not the Best Entrepreneur

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In 2010, Chumlee sold half of his business to Rick Harrison for $155,000 so the pawn shop could help streamline his order process and handle the business more efficiently. This has led to Chumlee become more popular than his co-stars and his merchandise selling off the shelves.

11. Crazy Antics


During filming, Chumlee is usually seen doing some pretty ridiculous stuff on camera. In fact, he’s broken quite a few things that have cost the pawn shop money. For example, when a man came into pawn his standup bass, Chumlee set it against a wall and it fell to the floor. Of course, it smashed leaving Chumlee in serious trouble.  Come to find out, the bass was worth over $20,000.

12. Shoe Collection

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One of Chumlee’s hobbies is collecting shoes. In fact, he has over 200 pairs. Talk about walking in style 24/7. We can’t even imagine how big someone’s closet would need to be to hold all of those shoes. You have to love the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

13. Car Collection

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Chumlee is also a man who loves his cars. His favorite is a 1986 Buick Regal, which is customized with hydraulic lifts on both the front and the back. Talk about poppin’! He also owns a Rolls-Royce Phantom and Cadillac Escalade. We definitely wouldn’t mind driving around in that.

14. Worldwide Fans

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One fun fact about Chumlee is that he has a huge fan base located in Germany. The show is called Die Drei Vom Pfandhaus in the country which roughly translates to “the three of the pawnshop.” Interestingly enough, the show also has a huge following in Serbia. Talk about international fandom!

15. Quizno’s Franchise

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Chumlee and his best friend Corey purchased a Quizno’s sub franchise in Nevada at one point with Rick running it as the owner. Of course, who can’t resist a steamy toasted sub? Chumlee should probably reach for the veggie one though.

16. Great Taste in TV

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A huge fan of television, Chumlee’s top three shows are Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire. You have to wonder if Chumlee picked up any of his business skills from binge watching on Netflix.

17. Bon Jovi Fan

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An experience that most music lovers would die for, Chumlee was given free front row seats to see Bon Jovi. Actually, Bon Jovi requested he and the guys from the show attend. Pretty cool, right? We have to admit we’re a tad bit jealous over this.

18. Rise to Financial Success

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According to recent financial statements, Chumlee has a total net worth of $5 million. The show has helped increase his fortune extensively and he receives $25,000 per episode along with a percentage of the backend profits. Definitely an upgrade from a simple counter clerk at a pawn shop, right?

19. Business Dealings

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This may seem hard to believe, but the hottest Pawn Stars merchandise are t-shirts with Chumlee’s face printed on them. In fact, thousands sell by the day. Thankfully, Chumlee has Rick to manage his sales, since he simply licenses his image out. Easy money.

20. Great Success

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When it comes to TV ratings, Chumlee couldn’t be any luckier. Pawn Stars has continued to rank as the second most watched reality show in North America. That’s quite a few housewives these gents have walked all over. A great accomplishment and one that’s certainly helped fan the flames of Chumlee’s fame.

21. The Price of Fame

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One interesting fact about Chumlee is he and his co-workers can no longer work at the counter of the pawn shop due to privacy laws. Now that they’ve become celebrities, it compromises the privacy of patrons who are pawning. One way around this is the guys now do deals in the hallway, away from the cameras.

22. Origins at HBO

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HBO actually first garnered interest in signing on Chumlee, Rick and Corey for a reality show and even developed a pilot. However, they wanted to focus on the more depressing and dirty sides of pawning, something shop owner Rick wasn’t interested in. He’s very happy he waited for History Channel.

23. Man of Danger

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Chumlee has never been one to shy away from danger. In fact, he once tested out a blunderbuss (a historical musket) and was burned by flames that shot out of the barrel. It burned his arm real good and required medical attention, but Chumlee being as crazy as he is returned to work almost immediately.

24. Crazy Beginnings

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Originally, Chumlee signed on to do a show called Pawning History, which was supposed to focus more on the history of pawning. However, the producers eventually realized the show needed a different focus and it became what fans love today. We’re sure Chumlee is relieved, we can’t imagine him spewing off historical facts.

25. TV Appearances


Aside from Pawn Stars, Chumlee has made cameos on several high-profile television shows. These include iCarly, Pop Star and Top Gear USA. He also has been interviewed multiple times, his sense of humor charming talk show hosts across the globe.

26. Death Scare Prank

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During the spring of 2013, Chumlee suffered a death scare when someone reported he’d died of a heart attack. This sent his fans into a flurry as the media tried to confirm his whereabouts. Thankfully, he tweeted he was still alive.

27. Loss of Father

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Only two weeks before Pawn Stars premiered, Chumlee’s father died of pancreatic cancer. His father’s sad and tragic death always stuck with him and would eventually inspire him to lose weight to better his health.

28. Health Transformation

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Transforming his lifestyle, Chumlee decided to make major changes in his eating and exercise habits. He began exercising in the gym up to six days a week and improved his diet. This led to a weight loss of 75 lbs in one year. Yep, you read that right, ONE YEAR.

29. A New Diet

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Chumlee’s diet consisted of juicing, increasing his vegetable intake, as well as cutting red meat from his diet. That sound you heard was members of PETA rejoicing worldwide. We have to say the results speak for themselves.

30. Big Dreams

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Chumlee’s dramatic weight loss allowed him to fulfill his dream of riding a hovercraft he’d purchased earlier in the series. He wasn’t able to ride it before due to the fact that it had a weight limit of 250 lbs.

31. The Power of Love

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Another inspiration for Chumlee’s weight loss was his girlfriend, Tanya Hyjazi. The couple began dating in 2013 and according to friends she was a huge influence on his amazing weight loss. What men will do for love. Tanya is actually a chef for a popular casino in Las Vegas, so we’re sure she had plenty of nutrition tips.

32. Incredible Transformation

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It’s amazing that this is still the same person as before. Not only does Chumlee look healthier, but you can tell his entire persona has changed. Personally, we can’t believe how amazing he looks now. The ladies must be chasing after him like crazy.

33. Weight Loss Interrupted

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Unfortunately, the weight loss was short lived. Over the course of 2013-2016 the weight began to creep up, which resulted in Chumlee spiking to a higher weight than ever before. This triggered a variety of health issues for the reality star.

34. The Downfalls of Dieting

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So what went wrong? Well according to friends, the strict diet was too much for him and he began to sneak off-limits food, such as BBQ wings and fried chicken. Sadly, a salad won’t cancel those kind of calories out.

35. The Weight Loss Yo-Yo

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Chumlee went up and down in his weight for a year or so, going from 260 to 185 and then back to 230. According to the star he’s quite happy at 230 lbs and it’s an easier weight for him to maintain. As long as he is confident and healthy, that’s all that matters.

36. Legal Issues

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Sadly, Chumlee’s weight loss and gain wasn’t the only challenges the reality star would face in the upcoming years. In 2012, Chumlee began the first of legal woes that would taint his reputation and change his life forever.

37. The 2012 Brawl

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The first incident involved a brawl in 2012 when an unknown man approached Chumlee. The entire ordeal was caught on camera as the two fought and Chumlee was arrested. He claims it was self-defense, and that the man was trying to get into his car. Talk about fans gone wild.

38. The Raid

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Legal trouble continued to follow Chumlee when on March 9, 2016 his home was raided during an investigation where he was accused of sexual assault. The police stormed into his home in the middle of the night and what they found was quite shocking.

39. Firearms Galore

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Not only did the police find crystal meth and marijuana, but the search also revealed 12 unregistered firearms on the premise which ranged from simple handguns to a shotgun. They also found .223 caliber rifles and an MP5. What could he possibly need all that fire power for?

40. Drug Problem

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According to the police report, the guns were found in a bedroom vault. They also discovered 17 bars of the anti-anxiety drug, Xanax, as well as seven capsules containing methamphetamine. We’re guessing fame and fortune really began to take a toll on Chumlee.

41. Traces of Cocaine

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On top of the guns and drug paraphernalia, police also discovered traces of cocaine use within the house. Chumlee was arrested on the premises and placed in jail with a $62,000 bond. Of course, he posted bail the next day and a court hearing was set for March 11, 2016.

42. Living Under the Radar


After his arrest, Chumlee went under the radar in order to keep a low profile. He cancelled a DJ appearance at Tru Nightclub only days after his arrest and disappeared from the public eye. This of course concerned fans who were wondering if he was still going to be on the show.

43. Pawn Star Future

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Both of Chumlee’s co-stars, Rick and Corey were very vocal in their support for their troubled friend. Rick was always a father figure to Chumlee and, despite his on-camera antics, made sure to take a firm hand with him when necessary. As for the show, the weeks after the news broke about his charges, the History channel went silent. Even Rick and Corey refused to make a statement regarding his Pawn Stars status.

44. Problem with Conviction


One big problem for Chumlee was he could no longer sell guns if he was convicted. This could prove to be an issue since the shop dealt with antique guns on a regular basis. Many fans feared that Chumlee would be fired, which would be a huge loss for the show.

45. Dealings on the Side

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According to friends close with the reality star, they knew he smoked a lot of weed. Rumors swirled that it was possible Chumlee was dealing drugs on the side for extra cash. Many questioned his net worth of $5 million when he was only making $25,000 per episode. Selling drugs could have made up the difference, though Rick and Corey didn’t believe it for a second.

46. The Final Court Date

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Fans waited two months before Chumlee made his way back to court on May 23, 2016. After weeks of speculation, he pleaded guilty to a felony weapons charge, unlawful possession of a firearm, as well as a gross misdemeanor of attempted drug possession.

47. Felonies

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The charges resulted in Chumlee being charged with 20 felony counts, but due to his plea deal not all hope was lost. Thankfully, Chumlee avoid jail time and would only serve three years of probation with required counseling.

48. Show Status

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Since the incident, the History Channel has yet to make a statement regarding the show’s status or if Chumlee will be fired. The show, currently in its twelfth season, hasn’t aired an episode since June 29th, 2016. While it hasn’t been officially canceled, Rick Harrison and Corey have remained eerily quiet about the show’s status.

49. Life After Arrest

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Chumlee continues to be active on social media, and has mentioned Pawn Stars on several occasions; however, his future on the show still continues to remain in limbo. One has to wonder if the reality show will come back at all at this point.

50. Chumlee Forever

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Thankfully, even though he’s been through ups and downs, Chumlee continues to remain in high spirits. He still has his business and a legion of fans who adore him. And he continues to interact with them daily, showing that you can’t keep Chumlee down, despite the circumstances around him.