The Untold Truth About “Gold Rush” Star Parker Schnabel

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In 2010, Parker Schnabel proved to the world that teenagers should not be underestimated. At the young age of 16, he took over his grandfather’s gold mine in that pursuit of riches. Fast forward many years later, and although Parker is still one of the youngest in the business, he is still one of the most successful. Millions watch him, and his team, dig up hundreds of ounces of gold each week on “Gold Rush.” However, there is so much more to Parker Schnabel than what you see on TV.

Used His College Fund To Start His Mining Business

Parker Schnabel had been around gold mines since he was a young boy. His grandfather, John, ran the successful Big Nugget mine. Parker took over for his grandfather when he was only 16-years-old. Parker knew he wanted to mine as a career. Therefore, when it came time to choose college or gold mining. He chose gold mining. All of his savings for college were used to start his mining operation.

Biggest Nugget He Ever Found

After years of working in the mine, Parker is certainly considered an expert. However, it is rare for even experts to find large nuggets of gold. During a Q & A interview on Facebook live, Schnabel said the largest nugget her ever found was “maybe a quarter ounce? $400-$500.” He added that his grandfather would find 3-4 nuggets when the land was still widely unscathed.

Has An Unexpected Net Worth

Over the past few years, Parker has become extremely skilled in his trade. He knows how to read the land and understand if it is worth it or not to dig. His strategies in gold mining have helped him become one of the most successful people in the industry. Through his gold collection as well as the salary he receives from the reality series, Parker has gained a net worth of $8 million.

Biggest Downside To Digging

Parker loves what he does for a living. However, he does believe there is one major downside. He has a minimal social life.  “I don’t make the time to keep in touch with them [friends from high school], it’s just a hell of a busy summer,” Parker said in an interview with Discovery. “So that’s definitely a downside: all the guys I used to hang out with, they’ve moved on, and I’ve moved on and don’t really have time to keep up. That’s a bummer, but I’m doing what I love, so that’s what you give up I guess.”

Most Difficult Miner For Crew To Work With

Cameras follow each mine and their team for five longs months to create each season of “Gold Rush.” However, some miners are much harder to work with than others. Especially in his teen years, Parker was (and continues to be) the most difficult to work with for the camera crew. One crew member said out of all the miners, “he has the least regard for the camera crew.”

He Bet Hoffman 100 Ounces Of Gold

Parker has lots of confidence in his team and their potential digs each summer. He has so much confidence that he recently bet his arch-rival, Todd Hoffman, 100 ounces of gold that he would have a more successful summer. To add even more pressure, Parker told his crew that his goal for the season is 5,000 ounces. Viewers will have to continue following the series to find out if he wins the bet or not.

His Grandfather’s Last Words To Him

Parker was extremely close to his grandfather, John. John was 96-years-old when he passed, and in the days leading up to his death, Parker visited him often in the hospital. “Parker, I wish you the best of everything,” John said to Parker. “I don’t particularly wish you to have billions of dollars…but I do want you to have a wonderful feeling for someone who becomes a part of your life. That’s all that’s important. Good Luck.”

Meet His Girlfriend, Ashley

During the off-season, Parker likes to spend his time traveling and visiting gold mines around the world. During a recent trip to Australia, he met Ashley Youle. He said they instantly hit it off. He invited her to spend time with him in the U.S., which she gladly accepted. The trip was a huge success as they had a lot of fun together, and they officially became a couple.

She’s The Perfect Fit For Parker

It seems like Parker may have found his perfect partner in Ashley. “Ashley just rolls with the punches and helps out where she’s needed,” Parker said in an interview with the Discovery Channel. “If we need her to drive trucks she’ll drive trucks. She ended up cleaning gold a lot of the summer or helping do fuel things or whatever we needed her around the place.”

His Relationship With Gene Cheeseman

When Gene left Parker’s operation a few years ago, Parker was in shock. Gene was his right-hand man. However, today, Parker has put the past behind him. “I see Gene a couple times a year normally. He doesn’t get out to our neck of the woods too often. But, when he does, he stops by now and then. When I go to see Tony, I stop in and talk to Gene usually. Gene and I are fine, I think. From my point of view, we are — you’d have to ask him on that. We get along fine. We talk. You know, I think we’ve both moved on, and we’re both doing fine from it.,” Parker said in an interview on Facebook live.

“I Learned A Hell Of A Lot From Gene”

Despite Gene leaving Parker’s operation, he still has a lot of respect for him. “I learned a hell of a lot from Gene, and I’ll always owe him for that,” Parker said in an interview. “Gene was a very good guy and a very good teacher. My grandpa taught me lots, but Gene taught me how to really move dirt, and since he left, we’ve been expanding on that. But, he definitely planted the seed there.”

How Does He Keep The Gold Safe?

If you watch the show, you know Parker, and many of the other teams, store all the gold they find in jars until the end of the mining season. This doesn’t seem like the safest way to store something so valuable. Parker was asked about security involving his loot. He said security doesn’t worry him and has a “big safe and a big shotgun.”

“The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made”

When Gene Cheeseman left Parker’s operation, he fell into a rut. He didn’t know what to do. However, then he realized he had Rick Ness on his team. “He’s a great guy, and he wanted more responsibility, and I decided why not trust somebody I’ve worked with for several years — it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. He did a great job,” Parker said to Channel Guide magazine. “The thing about Gene leaving is that it gave us kind of our imagination back — to be able to try new things and change things up… It’s combining a lot of different ideas that people have to move dirt and sluice different ground. Once we got that established, we saved and made a pile of money.”

Recieves Unusual Birthday Gifts

Parker is still in his early 20s so one might expect that he would ask for money or a gaming system for his birthday. However, Parker is different than most young adult men. He runs his own gold mine. Therefore, when it is his birthday, he asks his parents for equipment. His father runs a construction business in Alaska. So, when the company is done with old equipment, it gets passed onto Parker. This certainly saves Parker a lot of money.

Rookie Of The Year

Parker began running his own mine when he was only in his teen years. Many expected the young miner not to succeed. However, he proved them wrong. In his rookie season, he mined 1029 ounces of gold. For a first timer, this is an outstanding number. That number has only climbed every season since.

“I Think My Youth Is An Advantage And A Disadvantage.”

Being young has a lot of perks. Your stamina is high, and your body can handle a lot of stress. Parker believes this, along with a few others reasons, have helped him succeed in gold mining. In an interview with Scout, Parker said, “I think my youth is an advantage and a disadvantage. The nice thing about being young is that I’m willing to try new technologies and take on a lot of challenges that I think a lot of the other guys wouldn’t. At the same time, without the experience that the older guys have, I’m at a disadvantage and last year that was a huge issue. I don’t have the experience being a boss and that kind of bit me in the ass last year to an extent. I’ll pay for that one, you know?”

A Tribute To His Grandfather

Parker was extremely close to his grandfather. John. Therefore, when he passed he decided he wanted to do something in his honor, and “Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail” was born. Parker led a group of friends along the Klondike Gold Rush trail. The trail took the lives of thousands of pioneers in search of gold in the late 19th century. Of course, Parker and his team ran into many bumps along the way.

Why He Chose Rick For “Parker’s Trail”

Parker was allowed to build a team of whoever he wanted for the filming of “Parker’s Trail.” Therefore, he chose friends Rick Ness, Karla Ann, and James Levelle. It took some convincing to get Rick to agree to the trip as he was very out of shape. This is part of the reason why Parker asked him to join. “He was really not built for that kind of thing, you know? So I was really interested to see,  first of all, if he would do it…and then what kind of attitude he would have about it and if he would stick with it,” Parker told Monsters & Critics.

Lost A Friend On The Trail

Parker needed a cameraman to join him on his trip. His decision was quick and easy in picking James Levelle. However, Parker would come to later regret that decision. “James and I got into it quite a bit,” admits Schnabel to People. “I just don’t really like the guy. I thought I did before this all really started. I haven’t spoken to him almost since it ended.”

The Hardest Thing About Filming “Parker’s Trail”

Parker hiked a trail that took the lives of thousands of men due to its extreme landscapes and harsh elements. However, it wasn’t the weather or lack of food that Parker found the hardest to deal with. The hardest part for him was being around the same people for 18 hours a day. “We were stuck in there together, especially in the water… it was challenging,” Schnabel told People. “It’s easy to forget about some hunger or the cold because I didn’t lose any toes or fingers, but the one [obstacle] that sticks out is the psychological warfare.”

Why he Asked Karla Ann To Join On The Trail

Like Rick Ness, Karla Ann was hand picked by Parker to participate in “Parker’s Trail.” However, she was a necessity. Karla Ann is a wilderness expert and trained in first-aid. “She spends tons of time out in the woods, hunting and fishing and all that kind of stuff,” Parker told Monsters & Critics. “So it was kind of a no-brainer in that we needed somebody who knew what they were doing. Cause Rick and James and I certainly didn’t.”

Mother Encouraged Him Not To Be A Miner

Parker had watched his grandfather run the mines since he was a young boy and by his mid-teen years, he had decided that is what he also wanted to do with his life. However, in an interview with Monsters & Critics, Parker said, “My mom has always pushed us NOT to go to work in the family business because there’s a whole world out there to see.” However, she still supports him in all of his decisions.

His Favorite Music Is Surprising

Although Parker is only 23-years-old, he has a very sophisticated taste in music. Parker says his favorite singer and songwriter is Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson is in a close second. However, he has recently been getting into rap music, so he also enjoys D.R.A.M.

Best Highlight Of His Career

Parker was once asked about the best highlight of his career during an interview on Facebook live. Most people would probably guess his answer would be the millions of dollars in gold that he has mined. However, his answer was much more sentimental than that. Parker said the biggest highlight of his career has been learning from his grandpa John.

Advice To Aspiring Miners

Although he is still in his early 20s, Parker is considered an expert when it comes to mining gold. Therefore, if you are an inspiring gold miner here is some advice direct from an expert: “my advice is that you need to start small,” Parker told Maxim. “Start off with a gold pan and a tiny sluice box. Don’t go huge where you’re hurting for money and your wife gets mad.”

What He Does In The Off Season

Although parker recently tackled the Klondike trail in his offseason, that isn’t what he normally does. When he is not at the mine, he tries to relax and de-stress. In an interview with Maxim, he said: “normally I come home and spend a week hunting with my dad in November, and then I usually travel – I’ve been to Australia twice.” It was during one of those trips to Australia that he met his current girlfriend, Ashley.

The Toughest Thing About Mining

Gold mining is not the easiest trade, and it comes with its risks. However, one of the toughest things about it, Parker believes is the time constraints. In an interview with Fox, Parker said “The toughest thing is that it’s very seasonal work and we basically have four months to make a year’s worth of money… Not only is it difficult but it is also dangerous because everybody is working long hours, long days … from a safety standpoint, that’s risky.”

He Was In Debt When He First Started

Although his first operation was handed down to him from his grandfather, Parker still incurred a lot of costs. He wanted to revamp the location with new equipment. Therefore, by the end of his first season, Parker was already in debt. “We have a lot of costs,” Parker said in an interview with Fox News, in 2015. I have probably a lot more debt than the normal 20-year-old.”

Mined More Than $13 Million In Gold

Since his later teenage years (As of February 2018 he is 23-years-old), Parker has mined a lot of gold. Maxim reported that since he took over his first operation, he has mined over $13 million in gold. “He consistently out-earns his rivals on the reality program using wisdom and determination that outpaces his age.” Maxim wrote.

“I Think I’m Going To Be A Grandfather”

Yes, you read that right. Parker Schnabel is going to be a grandfather…sort of. During an interview on Facebook live, Parker said “I do have a big announcement to make! Possibly, I’m not sure, but Dozer’s been running the streets of Haines, and it looks like we’re going to have some new Schnabel babies coming up. So I think I’m going to be a grandfather, which I’m stoked about.”

The Film Crew Bribes Him With Food

Parker has made it clear to the crew that the last thing he wants to do in his free time is sit down and do interviews or more filming. Therefore, the crew has discovered a way to change his mind. They bribe him with food. “He doesn’t always take time to feed himself,” a crew member said in a Discovery Channel interview. “So, we give him a snack.”

Richard Madden Loves Him

Richard Madden is best known for his role as Robb Stark on “Game of Thrones.” In his downtime, Madden loves to watch “Gold Rush.” In an interview with The Dirt, Madden said: “I think I see you [Parker], more than my own family.” When asked if Parker was his favorite Madden replied: “Absolutely… because he’s the young guy going out and doing it by himself, and that’s what I can relate most to.”

Favorite Thing About Mining

Besides running the business and finding the gold, Parker says his favorite part about mining is just being in the Yukon. “I love being in the Yukon, I love it up here,” he told Discovery. It’s beautiful, it’s [part of] some of the most beautiful country in the world.” Parker truly appreciates the beauty of the nature around him.

The Cameras Add More Pressure

After having the cameras around for so many years, Parker is used to them. However, he said they do add more pressure. In an interview with Discovery, Parker said,”The cameras bring a big focus on, you know, how many ounces are you getting every week, so you know, it’s a lot of pressure, but, it is also a big motivator because everyone wants to impress.”

If He Could Prospect Anywhere In The World…

As much Parker loves mining in the Yukon, he has his eyes on some other places in the world, in particular, South America. “[South American has] Some of the last untouched areas of minable ground that are left,” he said in an interview with Discovery. “Like everything in the Yukon that has gold in it has had a road built to it and has been mined, you know, for years and years and years. It’s on the bucket list, and I definitely want to try and make that happen.”

Lessons Learned Through Mining

Every season, Parker tries to learn something. However, there is one lesson he feels he has learned well from running a mining business. “I think I am starting to deal with people a lot better, learn from our mistakes and learn from our successes and try to grow from that…One thing I still struggle with is keeping people motivated… But, that’s something you learn with experience.”

“There Is Definitely A Lot Of Built Up Rage.”

When you are in the middle of nowhere for several months, you start to go a little crazy. Parker said a lot of tension builds up amongst the crew. `’There is quite a bit of built up rage and working all those days and weeks without time off. And that rage can come out when alcohol gets mixed in,” Parker told Maxim. “A few weeks ago, I had a party, and some of the guys started body slamming each other, and started throwing potatoes at each other. If I didn’t intervene, it would have turned into complete chaos. There is definitely a lot of built up rage.”

He Is So Different Than Todd & Tony

Part of the reason “Gold Rush” is so successful is that all three of the bosses are completely different. Therefore, viewers don’t see the same process in three ways. But, rather each mining camp offers a different perspective on the industry. “Well, all three of us are very big personalities, and all three of us have — are completely opposite in the sense of how we conduct ourselves and how we run a business and how we prioritize things. And it’s pretty interesting,” Parker told Monsters & Critics.

Living In A Mining Camp Isn’t Easy

The mining camps the crew live in a very much separated from civilization and when you’re stuck in the middle of the wilderness, entertainment is lacking. In an interview with Maxim, Parker described life in his camp. “For the main crew, there are ten people sharing one satellite internet dish. And the service is already terrible,” Parker said. “There is always at least one guy who is always sucking down internet. Everybody else doesn’t like it too much. It’s a conversation at camp of who’s using up all the internet.”

Possibility Of More Spin-Offs?

Parker loved doing “Parker’s Trail.” Therefore, he would not be opposed to doing more spin-offs like it. In an interview with Monsters & Critics, Parker said, “I would love to do more of this kind of stuff. I like being out in the woods, and I like the challenges of these kinds of expeditions, so yeah, I would be open to doing something else.” If Rick and Karla were up to the challenge again, he would also love to have them on board.

Often Told He Has A Doppelgänger

Everyone in the world has a doppelgänger. However, many times, people do not find that person. But, Parker has had no trouble finding his as people often tell him he has one. His doppelgänger is actor, Adam Driver, but more specifically, his character Kylo Ren from the Star Wars movies. There are definitely some similarities.

Winning Is Very Important

Although Parker tries not to worry about the other camps, he always has in the back of his mind that he would like to dig out the most gold. “I come from a pretty competitive family. It was bred into me at a young age. Sports were a big thing in my hometown. Being a winner was important to us,” Parker told Fansided. The first thing he remembers winning was the Derby races in Cub Scouts, and ever since, he has been hooked on winning.

Would He Leave Mining For A Different Job?

Parker has poured his heart and soul into gold mining since he was a child. Therefore, it is hard for him to picture himself doing anything else. “Right now I’m enjoying what I’m doing with people I enjoy spending time with, and I enjoy the challenges. Until that changes, I’ll keep doing this,” he told Scout. However, he did mention to Fansided that he would like to get his helicopter license.

Ashley Might Be Breaking The Law

Parker’s girlfriend, Ashley Youle, has made various appearances recently on “Gold Rush.” However, her appearance on the series may lead to some trouble. According to Gold Rush News, people in the Yukon area have begun to complain that Ashley has been working illegally. Allegedly, Ashley’s visa to visit the Yukon states she is only there as a tourist. Therefore, by law, she is not allowed to work.

Salary Per Episode

Parker makes most of his money from the gold he finds. However, he does get paid to appear on the show as well. It has been reported that Parker makes approximately $25 thousand per episode. Todd Hoffman also makes the same. As for the mining crew, their payment depends on how much time they appear in the series. Therefore, many say miners act out to receive more airtime.

Why Does Todd Dislike Him?

Although it seemed like they may have been able to form a friendly relationship at the beginning of the series, Todd and Parker’s relationship turned sour quickly. But why is there such a dislike? Parker was asked, by Channel Guide magazine, if he has ever spoken to Hoffman about the hatred. His response: “I didn’t ask him, but it seems like a pretty extreme stance on his part, but that’s fine — to each his own, right?”

Parker’s True Feelings On Todd

Parker does not like Todd and in a recent interview with Discovery, he expressed just that. “I used to let Todd get to me,” Parker said. “You know, the typical preaching to me about how there’s more to all of this than all the gold, and us not having enough heart to find the gold… The one thing I saw from Todd early on is that I never want to run the colt-style management like he does.”

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