‘Pawn Stars’: Rick Harrison Explained How He Weeds Out Fake Items and TV-Hungry Customers

by Josh Lanier

Rick Harrison didn’t expect he’d spend so much time focusing on people he wants to keep out of the store. The Pawn Stars boss dedicates large parts of his day to the customers he wants to avoid. That’s because with celebrity comes fakes, fame-obsessed, and fraudsters. But he learned how to spot them quickly to keep them from wasting too much of his time.

Pawn Stars became a smash hit for the History Channel in 2009. Since then, Rick Harrison said the number of people that come to his store exploded. Most of them are customers who just want to check out the collection of the rare and weird items Harrison’s managed to collect over the years. And the items got even stranger after the show took off.

“I’ve got everything from seven human skulls in a duffel bag; the guys bought those from a devil school actually…I just looked at that guy and said, ‘You gotta be nuts.’ I have 200-year-old Japanese porn,” he told CBS News in 2015. “I have maps of the island of California. It just never ends.”

But rare items can be easy to fake. Every episode of Pawn Stars highlights how far Harrison and his crew will go to verify something’s authenticity. Yet people still try to slip something past Harrison every day.

“That’s the beautiful thing about my show. … It’s truly different every week,” he said. “We get to pick and choose. Every morning the girl from production comes to me with 100 different items and I go, ‘Fake, fake, fake, fake. … that’s cool.'”

But fakes still get through, Harrison admits. It “rarely” happens anymore, but he’s made some costly mistakes in the past.

“I’ve been wrong before,” he said. “I’ve been burned really badly.”

‘Pawn Stars’ Also Gets a Lot of Fake People as Well

There are also problems on the other side of the spectrum. Some people try to leverage Rick Harrison’s love of the weird, rare, and obscure, against him for their 15 minutes.

“People come in and they want to be on the show and everything’s great — and then you ask them the price, and they don’t want to sell,” he explained to CBS. “They just want to be on TV.”

“There’s only so much stuff you can buy,” he added. “I have to retail the stuff. Stuff that’s really, really weird — it’s cool, but who are you going to sell it to? I do collect some stuff. In the end, I have to run a business.”

This adds up to long hours and an exhausting schedule, Harrison said. He loves his job, but managing a business that’s also a TV show can take its toll. Pawn Stars isn’t going away any time soon, but Harrison said he can’t continue at this pace forever.

“I promised my wife that after two years, I’m massively going to slow down,” he said. “I can’t work 12 hours a day, every day for too long before it burns out. So, two more years and then I’m going to really slow down. The shop will still be around. The beautiful thing about my shop is that I get all my weird stuff.”