Beyond “Pawn Stars”: Meet The Real Corey ‘Big Hoss’ Harrison

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Big Hoss is best known for his role on Pawn Stars, a show that focuses on a Las Vegas-based Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. There is much more to know about Big Hoss. Today we will expose the man behind the character. 

Argues With His Dad Often

We argue a lot, but there is Corey’s way in,” he said in an interview with PhilStar Global. “The worst thing that we argue about was lunch orders. (Laughs) I learn a lot from my dad and my grandpa, but I do things in a completely different way. They taught me how to run the business.”

Troubled Campers

Camping could be a really good time and sometimes you have to pay for it. In 2012, Rich and Corey were camping with some friends and things got a little too hectic. They ended up completely trashing the campsite. Garbage was left in array. This was the second time in the same week that they had let their garbage get the better of them. They ended up having to pay a $1,000 camping fee. Corey claimed that it wasn’t him during an interview with TMZ. We left the campground before our buddies did and they were to clean it up and apparently didn’t follow through.”

Letting People Go Is Easy For Him

Most people struggle with the concept of having to fire an employee. However, Corey is not one of those people. As he spent most of his life in the business, he has learned several lessons. One of those lessons is how to deal with people, that includes both customers and employees. He told Philstar Global, “When I fire [employees], I just look at them, and I say, ‘You’re fired.’ I don’t prolong it. I can do with mistakes, but I can’t deal with stupidity.”

Employs A Personal Assistant

As Corey’s fame grew, his privacy shrunk. He could no longer just run out to grab a coffee or make a quick trip to the grocery store, as he would be mobbed by paparazzi and fans. Therefore, he employs a personal assistant. He asks his assistant to do menial things, like pick up food, but Corey has said he has asked him to do much worse, like cleaning his trailer’s septic tank.

He Is Ok With Being Portrayed As The Not So Good Guy

In 2017, while Corey was in the Philippines, he sat down for an interview with Philstar Global. In the interview, he discussed the longevity of the show and how he may contribute to that. He said, “There has to be the bad guy, the villain, the kind of mean one. For a lovable guy, you have my dad. For the super smart guy, everybody loves the old man.” Despite what is shown on camera, he knows he is a good guy.

The Show Is Staged

Although the show looks completely real, much of what you see on “Pawn Stars” is staged. Producers of the show actually shut down the store to film. The “customers” in the background are fans who were waiting in line that signed a waiver to act as extras. Despite the encounters being staged, all information on the items and negotiations you see are real.

He Has Been Duped

Most of the time, the Pawn Stars already know which big items are coming through their doors. However, sometimes items come through that they do not know about. Unfortunately, there are people out there who take advantage of that and hope to trick the stars. Corey has fallen to this trickery a few times. In an interview with When In Manila, he said “You know, you just live and learn. That’s kinda how it works. You don’t have a pawnbroker school where they teach you that. It’s all trial and error. As many as big scores that I’ve gotten, I’ve been burned a lot, too.”

He Yearns For Normalcy Instead of Fame Sometimes

In 2012, Corey guest-authored an article in the Las Vegas Sun. In the article, he discussed the series and his quick rise to celebrity status. He wrote, “You do crave normalcy. Sittin’ on the couch watchin’ the game and getting excused from an appearance are things I look forward to. Just bein’ me, the same old Corey as always.”

Got Into An Intense Motorcycle Accident

In 2014, Corey went from celebrating his birthday to celebrating his survival. He was riding his motorcycle, before attending his birthday party, when suddenly, his bottom fender mount broke off his bike. Corey had two options, either jump off the bike that was traveling at 40 mph or ride into oncoming traffic. He took the first option. Luckily, he only sustained a broken arm.

Co-Owner Of A Beauty Bar

Corey business ventures outside of the Pawn Shop may surprise you. In 2014, he and his friend, Darin Feinstein, purchased a beauty bar on the historic Fremont Street. At night, the bar hosts acts of many different types of genres of music. However, during the day, the bar offers nail services along with specialty cocktail drinks to purchase.

His First Job Was Polishing Jewlery

Corey watched his father and grandfather turn the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop into a booming business ever since he was a young child. He began working at the shop when he was only nine years old. His first job, however, was to not broker pawn deals but polishing jewelry. Like any job, he had to start from the very bottom. Clearly, his history at the shop has paid off as he has turned into a savvy businessperson.

Why He Believes ‘Pawn Stars’ Is So Successful

“Pawn Stars” is currently one of the most watched shows on television. Corey, of course, has his theories as to why it is so successful. The obvious is the loyal viewers, and he is very grateful for the large fan base. However, the attraction to the show is beyond just enjoying the history and watching the guys work. In an interview with Philstar Global, he said “The reason the show has been so successful, everybody has that one thing that might be worth the money. It could be something they bought in a garage sale, or grandma left them with. Parents also like the show because we train the kids into learning history.”

Sold His Home For Over $2 Million

In 2016, Corey put his home up for sale. He had bought the home for $1 million. However, he put it on the market for $2.39 million. The price increase was due to all the renovations Corey had made since he moved into the home. The seven-bedroom, six-bathroom home boasted an updated kitchen, an oversized master bathroom with soaking tub, a custom swimming pool, and a basement with a full-size bar.

Recently Remarried

Corey Harrison divorced his first wife, Charlene, in 2015. Although there were some rumors about his dating life after, he has done a good job keeping his relationships private. This all changed when he began dating Kiki Nejo. He was very public about their relationship and posted about her on his Instagram often. The two got married in 2017, which Corey announced via his Instagram.

 

Baby On The Way

Just a few years after his first marriage crumbled, we’ve seen Big Hoss get married to his wife Kiki and now they two are expecting a baby. That’s right, a new Harrison is about to enter the world of pawning. He announced the pregnancy back in April via his Instagram page and stated that he was both happy and nervous. The baby is expected to be here in late October.

Celebrities Have Asked Him For His Autograph

“Pawn Stars” isn’t just loved by the average TV viewer. There are also lots of celebrities who enjoy watching the show. Corey told “Metro” that celebrities often frequent the shop, and, to his surprise, sometimes ask him for his autograph. He said that stars visit so often that he “had to set a policy with the employees not to bother the celebrities.”

His Previous Weight Left Him With An Odd Handshake

Despite losing so much weight, there is something that has stuck with Corey from his previous days: his handshake. Due to his large belly, Corey had to keep his elbow very high when shaking people’s hands, as to avoid his stomach. His body has not been able to adapt to his weight loss, and he still keeps his elbow very high. Fans often ask him about it. Eventually, Chumlee told everyone the reason why via his Twitter.

Arrested Again

Unfortunately, Corey did not learn from his previous arrest that getting overly intoxicated is normally not a good thing. In 2014, Corey stopped at a bar in Missouri while he was on a sponsored motorcycle ride. He got way too drunk and ended up urinating on a barstool. According to People, Harrison then “threw a barstool across the room and was escorted out of the bar for his unruly behavior.” Like his previous arrest, he was very apologetic once he sobered up.

Once Spent $10,000 On Fireworks

When you are a celebrity, it is easy to forget what you actually need and what you want. One 4th of July weekend, Corey thought he and Chumlee needed to spend $10,000 on fireworks. They planned to set them off in the Las Vegas desert. Along with their amateur display, TMZ reported, that they also planned to “have a contest against each other to see who can shoot the shop’s bowling ball mortar cannon the farthest.”

You Can Bring Him Home For Only $20… Sort Of

The “Pawn Stars” have said they know this fame won’t last forever. Therefore, they are capitalizing on it as much as possible. This includes selling branded merchandise. Each staff member has been turned into a tiny 7-inch bobblehead. Therefore, you can bring Corey home for only $20. The bobbleheads are available in their store or through the store’s website.

His Best Friend Has Also Had Some Legal Problems

Corey and Chumlee have been best friends since they were kids. They may have also been bad influences on each other. We have already discussed some of Corey arrests. Chumlee has also seen some trouble with the law. In 2016, he was arrested after police searched his home and discovered multiple guns and drugs.

Who Is His Favorite Expert?

The stars who work behind the counter, aren’t the only staple characters of the series. The show would not be complete without the experts. When In Manila asked Corey which expert was his favorite. Corey said, “Jesse is one of my best friends, so it’s fun having him down in the shop and hanging out with him. But if I actually didn’t know anything about something, it’s gotta be the Beard of Knowledge. He kinda knows everything.”

 

Sold Subs With Chumlee

Rick Harrison and his son have always been entrepreneurs. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to open a franchise for Quizno’s, they jumped on it. Corey ran the shop while Rick remained at the pawn shop. Chumlee was also brought on board and helped run the store. Eventually, Rick and Corey sold the franchise to concentrate on other ventures.

Thinks His Brother Is Jealous Of His Fame

Even the most loyal fans of “Pawn Stars” may not know that Corey actually has a brother. The idea is strange to most as Corey’s brother is never seen on the show. His brother, Adam, used to work at the shop. However, he ultimately chose to become a plumber. Corey was once asked if Adam is at all envious of his fame, Corey responded: “I think there has to be some type of jealousy.”

His Fame Has No Borders

“Pawn Stars” was so wildly popular in popular in the U.S. that the series was bought up by networks across the globe. In every country which it is broadcast, the popularity remains the same. Therefore, all four of the guys have traveled the globe to do meet and greets and make various appearances. Corey has traveled to countries such as Singapore, Buenos Aires, and Argentina. His most recent trip was to the Philipines in August 2017.

Corey & Chumlee’s Friendship Started With A Fistfight

Although they tell the story a little different, Corey and Chumlee both agree that their relationship started with a fistfight. Corey claims Chumlee mistook him for someone that was bullying his sister and therefore, pushed him off his rollerblades and down a hill. Chumlee said he was just playing a prank with a friend. The following day an upset angry saw Chumlee and began a fight. They both agree that Corey won.

Despite The Fight, They Still Became Friends

Knowing the beginning of their relationship, many would think they two would never become friends. However, one day, they found themselves at the same place to hang out with a mutual friend. This time there was no fighting. After getting to know each other, they realized they had a lot in common. Ever since that meeting, they have been best friends.

Other Jobs Didn’t Feel Right

Although Corey always believed he would work at the Pawn Shop, he still tried to venture away from the family business. In an interview with Las Vegas Weekly, he said “I was an electrician for a while, I was a construction worker for a while. I actually worked in a sawmill for a while. But this [the pawn shop] has always been home…It always felt right working here. Everywhere else it just didn’t really seem to do it for me.”

His Most Memorable Purchase

As Corey has been working at the shop for many years, he has made a lot of purchases. However, there is one he’ll never forget. He was working the night window when pro-football player, Brock Williams approached. Brock wanted to pawn his Super Bowl ring for $2,500. Corey tried to offer him more, but he turned it down. Corey expected Brock to return within a few days to get his ring. To everyone’s surprise, he never showed, and a few months later the ring became official property of the shop.

His Father Dropped Out Of High School

It will surprise many people to know that Rick Harrison, Corey’s father, is a high school dropout. According to a post on the Gold & Silver pawn shop blog, Corey dropped out as he was making nearly $2,000 per day selling fake Gucci bags. Despite leaving school, Rick is full of knowledge. Corey notes that his father often buys textbooks from the University of Las Vegas bookstore and reads them for fun.

The Series Hurts Business

As stated previously, much of the series is actually staged, and the store needs to be shut down to film. This can happen multiple times a day, five days a week. Store manager, Travis Benton, told the Las Vegas Journal-Review that these closures cause sales to suffer. He also said that most people visiting the shop are not there to buy or purchase anything, but are just fans of the show.

His Life Was Turned Into A Broadway-Style Show

“Pawn Stars” was so popular on TV that someone decided to turn it into a Las Vegas show in 2014. The Broadway-style show, called “Pawn Shop Live!,” was based on the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and all the people you find working there, including Corey, Chumlee, and Rick. The Harrisons loved the idea and even help fund the show. Unfortunately, the show didn’t succeed and closed soon after opening.

Chumlee Isn’t His Only Friend In The Shop

As the son of the owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Corey has had some pull when hiring new employees. Not only did he help get Chumlee hired, but he has another friend in the store. The store’s general manager is Travis Benton. Benton has known Corey since they were 11-years-old. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, “Benton went to work at the shop in 2005 and moved into management as the behind-the-scenes show, launched in 2009, gained national exposure.”

Most Bizarre Item Ever Brought Into The Shop

Corey and his father have seen lots of strange and bizarre items come through the doors of the shop. However, there is one that takes the cake. “Seven human skulls in a duffel bag come to mind,” Rick told the Star-Telegram. “The guy bought them in an auction from a dental school. Apparently, dental schools use plastic skulls now, but they used to use the real things.” Rick decided not to buy the skulls.

Having Your Dad As A Boss Isn’t Always Great

In the opening credits of “Pawn Stars,” there is a line that says “family comes first.” Corey could not agree more with this statement. However, he has said working with your father has its downfalls. During an interview with When In Manila, Corey said “I’m lucky enough to work with my father and grandfather every day, so we get to be like best friends but if I made a mistake, compare it to a random employee making a mistake at work, he wouldn’t be getting a phone call at home.”

His Home Was Burglarized

In February 2017, Corey’s home was burglarized. Three men entered his home with guns and wearing bandanas. Corey’s sister, Jen (pictured), and her two children were in the home at the time. When Jen heard a noise, she walked downstairs and caught the men in the act. She quickly ran back upstairs to her children and called the police. The burglars were only in the home for a few minutes, so they didn’t have time to steal very much.

Mysterious Firing

In 2012, Olivia Black was let go from her position on “Pawn Stars.” Despite being a good co-worker of Corey’s as well as a fan favorite, Olivia was released from the series. Rick, however, has said that she was let go only from the show, but not the shop. Furthermore, he said she can return to work at the shop whenever she wants. Rumors have surfaced that many believe her past modeling gigs were the main reason for being let go from the show.

Their Most Profitable Buy

Many valuable items have entered the doors of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. However, there is one item that the many may see as more valuable than most. The guys once bought 200 pounds of silver from a man for $111,000. Although this seems like a lot of money, the stars already had a plan for that silver. The silver is melted down and become custom-minted coins that feature the Old Mans’s face. As each coin is sold for $70, the shop is quickly regaining its original cost as well as will soon be earning a profit from the buy.

He Knows How To Spots A Fake

As stated previously, Corey has been duped into buying fake merchandise before. However, he does have a few tricks in order to stop this from ever happening again. In an interview with PhilStar Global, he said it’s all in the details. He gave the example of a Prada bag. “You look for the way something is built. You see a Prada bag, and you look at the stitching at the back,” he said. “If it’s a fake one, then they make it really cheap. If it’s a real Prada bag and I will look at it, I will count every single stitch and make sure they are exact distance apart.”

Spotting A Fake Diamond

Just like Prada bags, Corey can spot a fake diamond through its details. In a short video for the History channel, he divulged how exactly to spot a fake diamond yourself. First, he said, one will have to find a loupe (the magnifying tool used by jewelers). During the inspection, keep both of your eyes open. “You want to look for imperfections in the stone,” he said on the video. “There are very few perfect diamonds out there.” If the diamond looks “perfect,” it is a fake.

His Dad Didn’t Want Him To Work In The Shop

The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop has been a family business since its inception in 1989. However, ironically, Corey’s father didn’t want him to follow in his footsteps. He wanted Corey to find a career outside of the shop. “From the time I was a kid, I knew what I was going to do,” Corey said at History Con 2017. “What’s even funnier is that my dad and my grandfather didn’t want me to work at the pawn shop, but I was deadset on it.”

Underwent Lap Band Surgery

Corey Harrison had been overweight for most of his life. However, he did not do anything about it until his doctor prescribed him preventative diabetes medication. After that doctor visit, he told People,  “I literally drove straight from the doctor to the lap-band center and had the surgery almost immediately. Back then, the surgery was too expensive for my bank account, so I had to pay with four credit cards, but it was something I had to do – I was not going to get diabetes!”

Married And Divorced

Corey has been married twice. His first marriage was to his college sweetheart, Charlene. Due to his fame, Corey was able to give his wife the life she deserved. They remained happy for a few years. Unfortunately, fame eventually took a toll, and they got divorced in 2015. Soon after the divorce, Corey was rumored to be dating Roxy Gonzalez. However, they, too, split.

He Does Charity Work Outside Of The Pawn Shop

He is often seen supporting various charities. “It [fame] gives me the chance to support charities that are important to my friends and to support my friends, in general, which is one of the best things about fame.”

Has A Huge Net Worth

“Pawn Stars” debuted on the History Channel on July 19, 2009. The show quickly rose through the ratings. No longer were the staff of the pawn shop just your average joe. They were now all celebrities. The pawn shop began getting more and more customers, therefore, making more and more money. Corey has part ownership of the store and therefore certainly profits from the show’s popularity. Through his ownership as well as a few other ventures, he has amassed a net worth of $5 million.

Down 190 Pounds

Lap band surgery is no joke, and Corey Harrison was determined to make it work. At the time of his surgery, he weighed approximately 400 pounds. After his surgery, he began working out much more and eating much less. In an interview with ABC News, he said, “I can only have four to five ounces of food in my stomach. When you only have that much space in there, you don’t want to fill it up with crap.” Within the next few years, he was able to drop over 190 pounds.

You Won’t Find Him Behind The Counter

Corey Harrison has been working at the pawn shop since he was a young boy. However, now that he and his friends and family are famous TV stars, that has since changed. If you visit the shop, you most likely will not find Corey and the rest of the gang behind the counter. Corey only visits the shop during filming or to randomly check on his 80 employees.

Chumlee Can Thank Corey For His Job

Chumlee is certainly the comedic relief on the show. However, due to his “simple” nature, he most likely would not have been hired by the pawn shop if he wasn’t friends with Corey. Corey and Chumlee met when they were only kids and have remained best friends ever since. Therefore, when a position opened up at the pawn shop, Corey was quick to suggest Chumlee.

Sued By His Agent

Wayne Jefferies previously managed all three of the Harrison men along with Chumlee. However, Jefferies claims the History channel was not happy about his response to the spin-off series “Cajun Pawn Stars.” He said network executives than used tactics to convince the men to leave Jefferies and find other agents. On the lawsuit, Rick commented to Fox News, “The more money you make, the more times people sue you. People are always going to…eventually going to sue you for something.”

The Old Man Was A Navy Hero

Big Hoss’s grandfather, Richard Harrison, who is often referred to as “The Old Man” wasn’t always walking about in the pawnshop, in fact, he used to a Navy hero. He served his country for over twenty years and on four different ships. He even obtained the rank of an officer first class. In the mid-1970’s, Harrison left the Navy and decided to help his wife with her real estate business.

New Woman in Dad’s Life

In 2012, a twice-divorced Harrison married Deanna Burditt and shocked the world. Not only was she significantly younger than him, but she was an absolute bombshell. That said, we’d love to know how Big Hoss feels about his new mommy. We wonder if her walking around the shop will change the dynamic of the show. We will just need to wait and see.


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