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The Surprising Way That Chumlee Cost Pawn Stars $20k

Austin "Chumlee" Russell was catapulted into stardom in 2009 as the comic relief on the first season of History's "Pawn Stars." He now has an estimated net worth of $5 million, so it's safe to say that clowning around has paid off for the pawnbroker.

Over the seasons, Chum has annoyed his bosses, Rick Harrison and the Old Man, goofed off with his buddy Corey, and even made some insightful business decisions (we love growth!). But with the series in its 18th season, Chumlee's main role as comedian remains, and you're still more likely to see him fumbling the ball than scoring a touchdown. That's all good, though, as his hilarious faux pas make top-tier reality television.

Unfortunately for Chumlee, it's not all an act. Sometimes — as any of the guys on the show would tell you — mistakes happen, and even the most skilled pawnbrokers have been cheated (although innocent blunders seem far more common than malicious sellers trying to pull a fast one on the shop). One of the biggest snafus in the history of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop actually occurred before a single episode ever aired of the show. Here's how Chumlee cost the shop $20,000 in its pre-"Pawn Stars" days.

A pre-Pawn Stars fiasco put Chumlee in the hot seat and cost the shop some serious dough

Chumlee has been a wildcard from the start. According to HuffPost, before the show began, a man came into the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop to pawn his upright bass, getting $700 for it. When he came back to retrieve his beloved instrument, he found it freshly broken. (It's important to remember here that pawning is not the same thing as selling.)

Needless to say, this was far from music to his ears. But what happened to the upright bass? It turns out, Chumlee had rested the instrument upright on one of the shop's shelves and left it unattended. The bass, of course, fell over and smashed into pieces. Now, this upright bass turned out to be pretty rare, so it was expensive to replace, and the shop ended up having to shell out $20,000 for Chum's lapse in judgment. For his carelessness, Chumlee had no excuse to make, lamenting, "I don't know what I was thinking."

When news of the upright bass disaster started circulating the internet, fans of "Pawn Stars" took to Reddit to weigh in on this pre-show moment. One user, canuck1701, captured the general sentiment of the thread, writing, "I always thought he was just acting dumb for the show, but now I'm not so sure."

While Chumlee has had numerous other disasters at the shop, this was certainly one of the most costly. However, he's full of other surprises, too — like the side business he opened with is brother in 2017.