‘Gold Rush’: The Payout Percentages Sparks ‘Shares’ Discussion Among Fans

by John Jamison
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Since 2010, the miners on Discovery Channel’s hit series “Gold Rush” have become borderline celebrities. The popularity of the show has sparked a few discussions regarding the crews’ pay structures. Fans want to know how the pay compares to mining operations that don’t benefit from being featured on television.

It’s a reasonable discussion. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time reality TV tried to trick audiences with the smoke and mirrors of the entertainment industry. Not one to be fooled, one “Gold Rush” fan took to Reddit to canvas the internet for information regarding typical payout structures for gold miners.

The fan observed that Dave Turin’s crew was promised 5% of the total haul. Naturally, the person wanted to know if this was a standard number.

“Is this a normal percentage to pay people for the proceeds of a mining effort? Does Discovery Channel also pay them for being filmed?” the post read.

And it seems the poster opened up quite the can of worms with that question. It’s a complicated area considering there isn’t much precedent in the gold mining industry for a TV show. Though, a few fans shared their thoughts on the matter.

“It’s a tv show everyone gets paid to act* the gold is just a bonus. normal mining jobs you get paid in cash, not gold. and you don’t ever get to keep the gold they mine always goes to the main boss then sold,” one of the replies read.

If this poster is to be believed, then traditional gold miners, outside of the investors, don’t get any percentage of the gold.

A Real ‘Gold Mining Professional’ Chimes In on the ‘Gold Rush’ Pay Structures

Indeed, another poster on Quora claiming to be a gold mining professional himself backed up that sentiment.

“The ‘Gold Rush’ reality TV show is not reality. As a Gold Mining Professional I am often shocked by what seems to go on. The only reason I can see them getting away with it is because they are a small operation, and perhaps much of their activity is grandfathered as placer mining in Alaska has been going on continuously for over 100 years,” Edward Mahoney wrote on Quora, claiming to be a professional geologist.

He goes on to describe countless miles of red tape surrounding the mining industry. The picture he paints includes regulatory agencies like Mining Safety and Health Administration and years of archaeological study before anyone is allowed to start digging. He claimed that the “Gold Rush” miners would be shut down immediately if they were running bigger operations.

In the end, it seems percentage-based payouts only go to those who invested in the operation. The miners on “Gold Rush” make much of their money via Discovery Channel contracts. The gold they find is a bonus.