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Gold Rush Cast Ranked From Least To Most Successful

Discovery's "Gold Rush" isn't quite a competition series like "The Amazing Race," nor is it quite a lifestyle series like "Chrisley Knows Best." It's something in between, where the men and women of the modern day gold mining industry strive for every last ounce that they can glean from the paydirt of the American and Canadian west. The audience is with them every step of the way, from the last thaw of spring to the first freeze of autumn, on site with and occasionally in the homes of the show's main cast. Said cast includes rookie dreamer Todd Hoffman, ornery pro Tony Beets, young wunderkind Parker Schnabel, and many others over the show's 12 (and counting) seasons, spinoffs, and specials. At the end of each season, each mining crew's gold yield is tallied. Other than friendly wagers between the miners, the show doesn't crown a winner; the miner with the highest yield doesn't get anything special beyond the worth of the gold itself, or are in any advantageous position for the next season. In the end, they are all on the same footing, starting from nothing every spring, hoping to turn a few specks of bright rock into a fortune.

Here is a ranking of the most successful cast members on "Gold Rush." The ranking takes into consideration the miners' total gold yield, their time on the show, as well as less tangible factors such as their contributions to the mining teams they worked with, and to the show itself.

8. Fred Lewis

Former Army medic Fred Lewis first appeared on Parker Schnabel's spinoff series "Gold Rush: Parker's Trail," replacing Schnabel's former operator Rick Ness on a dangerous expedition into Papua New Guinea. He joined the main show in Season 11, as he and his rookie team sought to take advantage of the record high prices of gold and record low prices of oil brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being a highly bearded and patriotic group of would-be miners, seemingly perfect for "Gold Rush," Lewis and his crew fail at nearly every turn, having neither the skill nor the ability to learn that would save their season. Even a visit from series fixer Freddy Dodge wasn't able to get Team Lewis back on track.

In the end the Lewis crew's total yield was just 6.4 ounces, worth about $11,400–less than half of what the Hoffman crew mined in their first season. Despite his failures, Lewis has returned for Season 12 as well as the 2021 limited series "Gold Rush: Winter's Fortune." Will his luck improve with experience? Only time will tell.

7. Dave Turin

Veteran miner and quarry expert Dave Turin was brought in during Season 1 to assist his friend Todd Hoffman's fledgling attempts at finding gold. For three years he assisted the Hoffman crew and was integral to their success as they improved season after season. But after Hoffman's ill-fated expedition into Guyana in Season 4, Turin ended their partnership and teamed up with another former Hoffman affiliate, Freddy Dodge, on a new mining operation in the Klondike. In Season 5, Hoffman convinced Turin to rejoin his crew, in exchange for a 50% ownership stake in Hoffman's new claim.

In 2019, he starred in the "Gold Rush" spinoff "Dave Turin's Lost Mines," traveling across the country and rehabilitating abandoned gold mines. Since he was never a crew leader on "Gold Rush," his gold yields were not tallied, but he earns his place on this list by the work that he accomplished on behalf of the Hoffman crew during their most successful years, and by extending the "Gold Rush" franchise with his very own spinoff.

6. Freddy Dodge

When miners are in trouble, they call Freddy Dodge. Much like his colleague and former mining partner Dave Turin, Dodge was on hand to assist the Hoffman crew in its first two seasons before joining the crew (and the show) full time in Season 3. After leaving Hoffman behind in Guyana to work a Klondike claim with his brother, Dodge returned to the Hoffman crew in Season 5 and has appeared off and on ever since. He's often called to assist in particularly dire moments, such as Rick Ness' collapsing wash plant in Season 9 or with Fred Lewis' flailing crew in Season 11.

In 2021, Dodge hosted the six-episode special "Freddy Dodge's Mine Rescue," visiting underperforming gold mines across the country and getting them back on track with his combination of know-how and tough love. Like Dave Turin, Dodge's gold yields on the show have not been tallied, but his trusted place within any crew he works with, along with his success as an ambassador of the "Gold Rush" brand, earn him a place among the show's most successful cast members.

5. Fred and Dustin Hurt

Miners "Dakota" Fred Hurt and his son Dustin, known collectively as the Dakota Boys, were introduced in Season 1, but didn't become regular cast members until Season 2, when they leased the Porcupine Creek mine out from under Todd Hoffman after Hoffman missed a lease payment. Free to mine the claim as they pleased, in Season 3 the Dakota Boys embarked on a quest to reach the Glory Hole, a gold-rich deposit at the bottom of a water-filled ravine previously sought by Todd Hoffman's father Jack. Their work on the Glory Hole was beset with problems, from malfunctioning water pumps to the wrath of nature itself, as melting snowcaps from a nearby mountain threatened to flood the entire area.

The Dakota Boys spent three seasons on "Gold Rush" before setting out on their own spin-off series, "All That Glitters," followed by "Gold Rush: White Water." In their time on the original series they yielded 523 ounces of gold in total, worth over $930,000, with a personal best yield of 280 ounces in Season 4. In recent years Fred has taken some time away from "White Water," leaving Dustin to carry on the family business and the "Dakota" name.

4. Rick Ness

Rick Ness put in his time in the mines and on the show as Parker Schnabel's longtime operator and foreman before striking out on his own in Season 9, replacing the departed Todd Hoffman as the third leg of the show's three-team structure. Known for his tattoos and consistently sleeveless shirts, Ness' time on the show has been marked with struggle, as he learned on the job that being a skilled foreman is not the same thing as being a skilled crew leader.

Ness has had to deal with not only low yields and debt, but low morale among his team as he works to improve his performance. In Season 9, he brought in Freddy Dodge to help right his operation and fix some equipment. Other decisions have been more reckless, such as re-opening a plot of land as Winter set in at the end of Season 10. In his three seasons as crew leader Ness has yielded a total of 2,732 ounces, worth $4.8 million, with his first season yield of 1,100 ounces being a personal best.

3. Todd Hoffman

After 12 seasons and counting, it's interesting to revisit Season 1 of "Gold Rush" and see how much of it is dedicated to Todd Hoffman's inexperience and failure. After his Oregon-based aviation business went under, Hoffman gathered a team of other unemployed men, his father Jack, and a camera crew and set out for Alaska. He had a considerable amount of faith in himself and a showman's instincts for good TV; what he didn't have, other than his father's failed attempt in the 1980s, was any experience at all in gold mining.

That first season ended with a yield of just under 15 ounces, but Hoffman was undeterred; his next two seasons were vastly improved. Then came a disastrous trip to Guyana in Season 4, where Hoffman and his crew were utterly defeated by the South American jungle, mining just two ounces of gold before an unsuccessful pivot to diamond mining. Returning to the Yukon in Season 5, Hoffman recovered and mined a personal-best 3,032 ounces in Season 6. But after failed attempts to open mines in Colorado his home state of Oregon, Hoffman left "Gold Rush" and the mining industry altogether after Season 8, seeking new opportunities to apply his American gumption. He would finish the series with a total yield of 8,039 ounces of gold, worth $14.3 million.

2. Tony Beets

Colorful Dutch miner Tony Beets first appeared on the show in Season 2, when the Hoffman crew relocated to Dawson City, Yukon, and soon became a fan favorite. With his wild beard and foul-mouthed demeanor, he was seemingly made to become a breakout reality TV star, besides being a skilled miner and by far the most experienced of the show's main cast. His brusque way of doing business has also earned him longstanding beefs with co-stars Rick Ness and Parker Schnabel.

Starting out in Season 5 with a quixotic quest to get a 75-year old dredge mine up and running, Beets has been running his crews with the assistance of his wife Minnie and his daughter Monica. Like the Hoffman crew, his seasons have been up and down — but unlike the Hoffmans, Beets knows what he's doing, and when his seasons are good, they are very good. To date Beets has mined a total of 16,261 ounces of gold, worth $28.9 million. In Season 7, he managed the largest single gold clean-up in the show's history to that point, but his personal best came in Season 9 with 4,400 ounces. Beets would be the most consistently successful miner on the show, if not for the last name on this list.

1. Parker Schnabel

When it comes to gold yields, Parker Schnabel is head and shoulders above the rest. Since starting work on one of his grandfather's old claims while still a teenager in Season 2, Schnabel has mined an incredible 39,910 ounces, worth $67.8 million.

But as successful as Schnabel has been as a miner, he is just as successful as the longest-running, most consistent star of "Gold Rush." Starting as a 16-year-old in Season 1 overcharging the Hoffman crew for firewood, Schnabel emerged as not just a camera-friendly presence, but a mining prodigy, saving the Hoffman crew from their own incompetence on more than one occasion. Inspired by his grandfather John, a lifelong Alaskan miner, Schnabel excavated the Big Nugget Creek mine on his own in Season 2, and while that claim yielded just 34 ounces, he very quickly moved on to bigger and better things. Since Season 4, he has been the top earner of each season, yielding a record 7,509 ounces in Season 11, more than twice the amount of any of his fellow miners. Through the years he has faced setbacks and hardships, including the death of Grandpa John, but has managed not only persevere but thrive in the mountains and on camera.