Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hardcore Pawn Facts That Are Worth Their Weight In Gold

The stars of Hardcore Pawn will tell you that a story comes with every item that passes through their shop's doors, and they're not kidding. Every time someone walks into American Jewelry & Loan in Detroit, Michigan carrying an old engagement ring, signed hockey jersey, or a slightly used iRobot automated vacuum cleaner, there's a whole lot of history that comes along with it. That's what makes a pawn shop such an interesting place to set a reality show, to which Hardcore Pawn's five-year run on truTV will attest. 

Of course, not every story is created equal. Only a small fraction of those stories actually makes it on the air. The rest, alas, are left on the cutting room floor, to later be dusted off and presented here. If you've ever wondered about the real stories behind the counter at Detroit's favorite televised pawn shop, then you're in luck. Open up your safe and pull out your antique reading glasses: this is the untold truth of Hardcore Pawn

American Jewelry & Loan once owned Dr. Kevorkian's van

In one of the more morbid transactions in pawn shop entertainment history, American Jewelry & Loan once purchased Dr. "Death" Jack Kevorkian's van, according to the New York Daily News. Les Gold bought the 1968 Volkswagen Minibus, in which Dr. K performed about 130 assisted suicides, from a scrapyard in 1997 for $20,000. Gold then owned the Deathmobile, as it's known, for almost 20 years, until selling it for a $5,000 profit in 2014 because it took up "too much room."

Seth Gold is a man of the people

In December 2014, Michigan state senators wanted to introduce a bill that allowed pawn shops to increase the interest they charged on pawned items by 20% per month. While this sounds like something shop owners would support wholeheartedly, Seth Gold of American Jewelry & Loan actually opposed the measure, explaining to ABC News, "Our business is predicated on people getting their stuff back... if you make the interest rate higher, the default rate is going to explode." With that kind of civic commitment Gold could run for office, although we'd never suggest anyone give up the noble calling of pawn-shopping to go into politics.

Seth Gold thinks pawn shops are beneficial to society

This one probably isn't much of a surprise, considering Seth Gold co-owns a pawn shop with his father, but his reasoning has some merit. According to an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Gold believes they offer people "alternative-financial institutions," as opposed to banks. He continued by saying patrons "still have birthdays, still have anniversaries," because pawn shops allow them to persevere in the face of financial struggles. Don't be surprised if years from now people stop telling their children stories about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, and begin telling stories about Seth Gold.

They're patriots

Not only are the Golds men of the people, the folks at American Jewelry & Loan are also patriots. Back in 2012, they helped the U.S. Secret Service nab Kenny "Boom" Smith, who attempted to sell some bogus greenbacks and a counterfeiting machine to the famous pawn shop. But Les Gold really thinks the fool was just after his 15 minutes of fame, as Smith signed a waiver to appear on the show. It's unlikely that Smith has a future in television, except maybe as a regular on World's Dumbest.

Ashley Gold Broad runs an honest shop

In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Ashley Gold Broad told a story from a few years prior, when a woman came into the shop seeking $100 for a bag of stones. Broad looked through the bag and found a Burmese ruby, which a certified gemologist appraised at $10,000. Rather than take advantage, Broad did the honest thing and gave the woman the ten grand. While some would see that as an amazingly kind gesture, Broad insists she just thinks of it as good business.

Ashley Gold Broad's family loyalty may be questionable

Ashley Gold Broad may not be the type to always put family first. In December 2015, she left both the show and the family store to strike out on her own, opening an online retail outlet, Pawn Chick Shopping (now called AshleyGold.com). Broad claims she made the decision because she wanted to spend more time with her husband and kids. In an interview with Local 4, Ashley further explained why she left Hardcore Pawn and the shop, saying, "It was like Groundhog's Day. I got up every day, put on my same black sweater for work, my black tank tops, my jeans, my same black shoes, and I did the same routine every single day. And I realized I was not happy."

This may be true, but she also seems to think she can do better than her father and brother. That's cold, even for a pawn shop employee.

They have celebrity clientele

Okay, so American Jewelry & Loan may not have hundreds of celebs stepping through their doors every day, but the one that can be verified is impressive. Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul once visited the store in search of a gold bar with an inscription reading "Yeah, B—!," according to the Detroit Free Press. Of the event, Ashley Gold Broad said, "I'm able to accommodate a lot of people at the shop, but that one didn't happen." Still, you know if Bryan Cranston asked for it, they'd move Heaven and Earth to make him happy. He's the one who knocks, after all.

One episode has a tragic postscript

American Jewelry & Loan may not be the safest place to visit, even by pawn shop standards. Detroit resident David Kapuscinski, who made a memorable appearance on the show in 2013, was killed two years later in a confrontation with police. According to reports, Kapuscinski failed to obey verbal orders from officers called to his apartment during a domestic disturbance, which resulted in repeated tasering. Kapuscinski's girlfriend claimed it was a misunderstanding, and told reporters that the thick-headed bravado he displayed on the show was just part of a setup for the series.

Two of the Chicago guys got busted for foolishness, essentially

While the Detroit Hardcore Pawn shop runs like a well-oiled machine, the Chicago location, Royal Pawn Shop, needs a few bugs worked out. For starters, they need to vet their new hires better. In 2014, two employees, Jeremy Jackson and Karl Bell, got busted for not only stealing from the shop, but trying to sell the stolen goods back to Royal Pawn, according to TMZ. Apparently these two thought the owners wouldn't notice Rolex watches and jewelry going missing, because things like thousand-dollar watches are routinely misplaced. No word on how stiff their sentence was, but it seems unlikely that they used much of their time in jail to think.

But some of the employees are like family

A few months after the two lunkheads got themselves arrested, Chicago's Royal Pawn Shop suffered a tragic loss. Security guard Carl "Carlos" Deals, who really had the best name for a pawn shop employee, was found unresponsive at his home and later pronounced dead by Cook County's medical examiner. Of his deceased employee, shop owner Randy Cohen said, "As big as he was, that's as big of a heart Carlos had...I miss him already."

Why are they always in the same clothes?

Ever wonder why the main cast of the show is often seen wearing the same outfit on air? Well, according to an April 2016 "AMA" chat with Les and Seth Gold on Reddit, it has less to do with being clueless to today's trends and more to do with continuity. "I have twelve of the white sweaters at least," Les revealed. "We wear the same clothing day to day for continuity purposes on the show." The same apparently applies to Seth. "Seth only has one outfit, too," he said.


Over the years, many reality TV shows have been accused of or exposed as being fake. What about Hardcore Pawns? If Seth is to be believed, the show is 100 percent real. "We're pawnbrokers, not actors," he said in his Reddit AMA chat, when asked if customers ever turn it up for the cameras.

He continued: "The truth is, these are real customers. Also, the stuff you see us buy on the show? You can see that it's real, too, because we have things you've seen on the show for sale on our showroom floor, or at pawndetroit.com."

Business boomed for the Hardcore Pawn cast

Being the centerpiece of a nationally broadcast cable TV hit that regularly brought in three million weekly viewers was very good for business for the real-life shop consignment store behind truTV's "Hardcore Pawn." By the time the series aired its milestone 100th episode in 2013, American Jewelry and Loan, owned by "Hardcore Pawn" star Les Gold, operated two outlets, one in Detroit proper and another in suburban Pontiac. The TV series, and the business it profiled and bolstered, justified another expansion. "We're looking for more locations," Gold told MLive.

Within a few years, American Jewelry and Loan had indeed expanded, more than doubling its number of stores to five. New shops were launched in Southgate, Hazel Park, and Lincoln Park, Michigan. In 2015, around the time that "Hardcore Pawn" ended its run on truTV, co-star Ashley Gold started her own jewelry business. Pawn Chick Shopping, later renamed Ashley Gold, deals in silver and steel jewelry pieces.

The Golds are a charitable bunch

Some view pawn shops as disreputable or even exploitative businesses, to whom individuals desperate for quick cash sell their treasures for a low amount only for the store to jack up the price and unload the item at a significant profit. The operators of Detroit's American Jewelry and Loan, the pawn shop from truTV's "Hardcore Pawn," try to approach transactions differently. The store positions itself as a bank-like institution for those who don't regularly have access to financial services, or who the FDIC calls the "unbanked." "We provide a resource to those people to make their ends meet," Seth Gold told the Detroit Free Press. "We see that time and time again. So we're providing a service for those folks that don't have those opportunities to go to the banks."

The company also gives back to the community in a more direct manner, donating money, time, labor, and space to charitable endeavors that support residents of Detroit and the surrounding area. American Jewelry and Loan runs auctions and hosts events for Wigs for Kids and is affiliated with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, as well as the academic work-prep program Winning Futures.

The real reason the show got canceled

The six-year run of "Hardcore Pawn" in the 2000s and 2010s corresponded with its home network's dedication to reality TV and docu-series. What had once been a live courtroom and judicial matters channel called Court TV had rebranded itself as truTV, in time for the reality TV explosion. But in late 2014, according to The Hollywood Reporter, truTV pivoted again, this time positioning itself as a destination for comedy, both scripted and unscripted. That lineup would include hits like "At Home with Amy Sedaris" and "Impractical Jokers," but to make room for the new funny stuff, older, unfunny stuff would have to leave truTV, and that included "Hardcore Pawn."

Production on the series came to an end in 2014, right around the time of the truTV rebranding. Once the comedic overhaul took place, network executives decided not to order any more new episodes of "Hardcore Pawn," according to the Post-Gazette. The last produced and banked installments aired in 2015, and that was the end of the line for the show.

Could a Hardcore Pawn reboot happen?

"Hardcore Pawn" aired its last episode on truTV in 2015. Enough time has passed and enough positive memories of the show ingrained into so many fans' brains that the time could be right for a reboot. Should a production company of truTV spring into action and order a Season 10 of "Hardcore Pawn," original series star, Bobby Janiec, has mixed feelings about participating, if he were even given the opportunity.

"Somebody had asked me would I do a reunion show," he told the Sibp55 podcast in 2023. "I would do it, in a heartbeat." But as for a full-on reboot, depicting day-to-day life at a Detroit pawnbroker? "I don't think I'd be asked." Janiec hasn't set foot in the store since he quit his job there in 2016, months after the TV series ended production. "If there was ever a reboot I would never be another employee of that store. I would never probably get called back."

There were two Hardcore Pawn spinoffs

Many monumentally successful TV show gets a spinoff, be it "Frasier" spawning out of "Cheers," or "The Simpsons" emerging from "The Tracey Ullman Show." Spinoffs were an especially common occurrence when reality TV dominated cable broadcasters' schedules in the 2010s, as many true-to-life shows became the lynchpin of franchises consisting of a whole suite of shows focusing on a similar topic. "Hardcore Pawn," centered on the inner workings of Detroit's American Jewelry and Loan, was such a hit for truTV in its 2009 to 2015 run that the network aired two spinoffs, which didn't last nearly as long or attract as many viewers as the flagship show.

In 2012, the offshoot "Combat Pawn" debuted. It was taped at Guns Plus, a pawn shop in Spring Lake, North Carolina, near the Fort Bragg military base complex. Employees and customers dealt primarily with guns and other weaponry. It lasted just seven episodes before cancellation. Less than a year later, truTV offered "Hardcore Pawn" fans another spinoff with "Hardcore Pawn: Chicago." This one captured experiences at Royal Pawn Shop in Chicago, operated by bickering brothers Wayne and Randy Cohen. That one aired just 19 episodes.

Why Rich Pyle left Hardcore Pawn

"Hardcore Pawn" ended production in 2015, but Rich Pyle's time on the series ended in 2014. It wasn't until 2023 that the reasons behind his sudden exit were finally publicly disclosed. Pyle was something of a victim of his own success, and that of the show. Pyle was a manager at Detroit's American Jewelry and Loan, but not a member of the Gold family that ran the family business. His main job was to work the layaway window and deliver cash-outs while occasionally consulting on brokering items in which he had some expertise, such as musical instruments.

"From what I saw, TV started to become more important than the job," Pyle's former co-worker and co-star Bobby Janiec said on TikTok. "There were times like you saw on episodes where he would be out on the floor, taking pictures with people or walking around with a cup of coffee, not where he should have been." Those instances and others led Les and Seth Gold to place Pyle on probation. They fired him after he botched a deal on a jewelry item, which aired on an episode of "Hardcore Pawn." "That deal with the 18-carat gold that you guys saw when he let that piece walk, that was one of the final things that led up to him getting let go," Janiec said.

Hardcore Pawn vs. Pawn Stars

In the 2010s, the previously-owned merchandise industry inspired a significant chunk of the cable reality TV landscape. Those shows combine the thrill of discovery of something valuable with dramatic and high-stakes bargaining to make a sort of documentary-meets-game show. Two of the biggest hits of this sub-genre revolved around pawnbrokers: History Channel's "Pawn Stars" and truTV's "Hardcore Pawn."

Seth Gold, one of the proprietors of American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit, and also a "Hardcore Pawn" star, felt like his family operation and series were diametrically opposed to the goings-on of "Pawn Stars,", particularly in philosophy and customer base. According to Gold, his shop operates like a traditional pawnbroker, trading quick cash loans for small items, while "Pawn Stars" doesn't appear to do so. "They buy. Period. They don't loan," Gold told MVictors. "My customers aren't looking for $5,000 to take their family on vacation. They're looking for $20 to feed their family." Gold accused "Pawn Stars" of focusing on antiques and treasures, while his clientele seeks to pawn everyday objects. "They're not coming all the time with this crazy, old stuff," Gold said. "Our bread and butter here are the rings, the TVs, the DVD players—stuff to help people get by to their next paycheck."