When Pawn Stars debuted in 2009, nobody expected that the one character who was not a member of the Harrison family, Austin Lee Russell, AKA Chumlee, would steal the show. What happened to him recently has turned heads.
If Chumlee was not a childhood friend of Corey Harrison, it is doubtful he would be employed at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop at all. One of his biggest blunders happened when a guy came in to pawn his upright bass for $700, expecting to get it back later. Chumlee leaned it against the wall in a precarious position, and it fell and shattered. When the owner came back, the guys had to pay the irate man $20,000 dollars, the full value of the instrument.
Chumlee ran into some bad luck on the afternoon of March 9th, 2016. Police showed up on the doorstep of his mansion with a warrant to search his house in connection with a criminal complaint against him made by an unnamed woman. When the police got into the house, they did not find what they were looking for. Detective Cody of the Las Vegas police reported that a vast amount of weapons and substances were found in the house. He was arrested and charged with a whopping 20 felonies!
Haggling For A Deal
It is lucky that Chumlee was such a practiced haggler from his work in the pawn shop, as he used it to bargain for his freedom. With the weapons and possession charges he was facing, Chumlee could have been sentenced to two to five years in state prison. Instead, he agreed to a plea deal, where he avoids prison, and is on probation for three years. Chum must go to counseling as well. If he stays out of trouble, he can remove the felony charge from his record.
Ugly Fist Fight
It seemed like a normal summer day for Chumlee and his crew of friends out on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The group was getting ready to get into Chum’s Rolls Royce when a random passerby came up to them demanding a ride in the luxury vehicle. Chumlee refused him, which agitated the stranger who threatened them with a weapon. Chumlee and pals ended up in a brawl that left the stranger badly injured on the street as Chumlee and associates sped away in the Rolls.
Along with his work at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Chum is a DJ. Perhaps it is because Chumlee already has a net worth of $5 million, or because he thinks like a true pawn shop employee, he makes outrageous demands for non-monetary payment. TMZ reports that his demands include “Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties).” Chum also wants some toys, specifically, “2 Nerf basketball hoops and 5 Nerf guns,” as well as some company: “beautiful waitresses to escort him to the stage.”
More A Gift For Him
Chumlee is dating Tanya Hyjazi, a chef at the Stack Restaurant and Bar in a casino in Las Vegas. On Tanya’s birthday, he always tries to get a unique gift. One year he got her a cake that looked exactly like a Louis Vuitton bag. Another year, Chum paid for her breast augmentation surgery. Chum figured it was no big deal, as it “literally takes [him] a couple hours of work,” to afford the money for the procedure. Also, it is sort of a gift for him as well!
Amazing Weight Loss
Chumlee has always been of the husky variety, but at some point, he decided to embark on a weight loss journey. “I started at 320 lbs. and now I’m down to 225,” Chum reported. His girlfriend Tanya was able to come up with a diet for Chum that helped him shed the fat. “I eliminated all processed foods except mustard. Now, ‘everything in moderation’ is my motto,” Chumlee proudly reported. It was not easy to go to “the gym six days a week,” but it was all worth it.
I’ll Take You To The Candy Shop
Beyond his work on Pawn Stars and as a DJ, Chumlee started a business with his brother Sage. They decided to open a candy shop, which took a while due to permit issues. “Sage and I are so happy to have the place open and transactions at the cash register,” Chumlee reported. Hopefully, this new venture does not mess with his weight loss journey. It might be hard, as the two are considering making Chumlee-branded candy, and he would have to taste test each flavor.
Trouble In Candy Land
Chumlee’s candy shop sells many nostalgic treats, and a wide variety of Pez dispensers, from Batman to Disney. Luckily, Chum will perhaps get some free promotion on Pawn Stars. That would make sense, as the sweetshop is right next door to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, so customers would come to both. However, there are some bumps in the road. Chum and his lawyers are in a spat with a man over internet domain names that soon may escalate to a lawsuit.
The Pawn Stars cast lovingly calls Chumlee the “village idiot” of the group. Chum has caused headaches amongst the Russells and TV executives alike with his legal trouble. Even before the issues, Chumlee displayed outrageous, impulsive behavior, which caused fans to fall in love with him, but has also caused problems.
When Chum wants to spend some money, he spends some money. Why not? Chumlee makes $25,000 per episode of Pawn Stars. One instance where an exorbitant amount of cash was dropped was on his birthday. Chum was in a nightclub in Mississippi with Gold & Silver Pawn Shop bodyguard Antoine, and decided that he wanted to buy everyone partying that night some Cristal champagne. When he got the bill, it was $9,558! Chum tipped very generously–$2,000– for a total of $11,558!
Following the recent legal battles that Chumlee has been facing, he has made some lifestyle changes, big and small. One thing that has changed is his living situation. For a long while, he lived in a six-bathroom, five-bedroom mansion which he got for $1.1 million. Now he is planning to sell the place for $1.8 million. Besides trying making a profit, Chumlee is probably trying to get rid of the bad memories that happened in that house that led to his court appearances.
Drinking The Juice
There is a strange connection between Chumlee and none other than Juice- O.J. Simpson, and it goes beyond them both having legal problems. In a recent episode of Pawn Stars, O.J.’s infamous white Ford Bronco is up for sale, by former O.J. agent Mike Gilbert. The episode was whimsically titled If the Pawn Don’t Fit. Chumlee sat in the back and provided a levity that was needed desperately, saying that the group was, “getting on the freeway,” to do a reenactment of sorts.
One Thing He Won’t Pawn
Just before the debut of Pawn Stars, Chumlee experienced a tragedy. Two weeks before the premiere episode, Chumlee’s father sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer. We know this was hard for Chumlee. Normally, he says, he could sell and pawn everything and anything, as he is a businessman. “I have a few possessions that I would never pawn. Those would be the few items that my father has made.” Papa Chumlee was a master woodsman, so certain items are not only artisanal but also have sentimental value.
Ides Of Merch
What you can certainly say about Chumlee is that he is a character. His sense of humor and ability to take a joke has made him the breakout star of the show that nobody expected. It makes sense, then, that he was the first of the crew to brand himself, selling merchandise like T-shirts with his image on them. According to Rebecca Romney, a book expert and Pawn Stars regular, “Chumlee T-shirts were so successful that Rick bought out half his business.”
Chumlee is what is called a “sneakerhead”- a person obsessed with tennis shoes. In his closet, Chum has at least 200 pairs of shoes, 40 pairs being Nike’s high-priced Air Jordans. His fixation with shoes came in handy one episode when someone came in the store trying to sell Air Jordans that were supposed to be authentic. Chumlee knew that they were fake as the whole surface was reflective, rather than just the lip of the shoe. Not such a village idiot after all.
Something we all remember is when we are lucky enough to run into a celebrity on the street. If we’re really lucky, we can take 30 seconds of their time to tell them what big fans we are and perhaps even get a selfie. Chumlee, on the other hand, has gotten famous enough that it happens the other way around. Apparently, the kids of rocker Jon Bon Jovi wanted to meet Chumlee so Bon Jovi invited him to meet them, and even “gave [Chumlee] front row tickets” to his concert.
Much like some of the items people bring in to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Pawn Stars is not exactly authentic. If someone comes in to sell a historic item, they are usually told to return to do it on camera. This way the guys already know what is coming. Also, Chumlee, among others, does not even work in the store. They are rich, and do not need the nine to five lifestyle. In fact, it is the opposite: Chumlee is actually an employer of a personal assistant.
Chumlee used to sit around the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and imagine a fantastical fight scene between a samurai and a tiger. It almost sounds like an Asian parable. However, samurai are not so common, to say the least. Even if they were, a fight like this would be illegal. Chum did the next best thing: he is getting the scene tattooed onto his leg. “To those who say it doesn’t hurt to get tattoos, stop lying! Every time I go it hurts worse,” Chumlee reports.
Cajun Pawn Shop
There is nothing more hated by a Pawn Shop employee like Chumlee and the Harrisons than a replica trying to be original. That’s why when the History channel came out of the blue and announced that they are making a new show called Cajun Pawn Stars, Chumlee and the Harrisons felt it was a “total knock-off.” Apparently, they were promised there would be no spin-offs and were “blindsided” by the news. History channel executives should know better than to mess with their top-rated show.
Most celebrate July fourth by having a BBQ, drinking a beer, and spending time with the family. Of course, no Independence Day is complete without watching fireworks. Some go so far as buying their own fireworks. Chumlee and Corey Harrison are among those who would rather do their own pyrotechnics. For 2011’s Independence Day, they bought a whopping $10,000 worth of fireworks and apparently fired them off in the desert. Along with that, they wanted to shoot a bowling ball mortar, perhaps to reenact the American victory in 1776.
Life Is But A Video Game
Chumlee has always been garish in style, but what he did to his Rolls Royce Phantom is over the top. Chum must have been inspired by MTV’s makeover show Pimp My Ride when he decided to install a fully-function Playstation 2 in the backseat of the car. “We got FIFA going,” Chum explained proudly, showing that they are playing virtual soccer while driving. Shrugging off the craziness of the video games-in-car setup, Chumlee simply said, “it is what it is.”
On a memorable Pawn Stars episode, a woman comes in with an archaic rifle called a blunderbuss. After the guys appraised how much it might be worth on the market, they decided to test in out. In a hilarious scene, Chumlee gets the gun working and does some target practice before rushing the targets while screaming a war cry and using the bayonet on the paper assailants. However, he did not leave unscathed, as “a flame shot out [of the blunderbuss], and I did get burned up my arm.”
Good Enough Diploma
It would be an understatement to say Chumlee was not the best student in high school. He even said that “some girl came up to [him] and said, ‘You paid me $80 to do your homework in math class in junior high.'” In fact, Chum never did graduate from high school, instead, he earned a GED. So when his little brother became the “first one to graduate [high school] in [his] family,” he decided to go all out and bring everyone to Hawaii to celebrate.
Wayne Jefferies was the manager of Chumlee and the rest of the Pawn Stars crew. In fact, Jefferies is the one who discovered them, and saw their potential, and got them a deal with the History Channel. However, after Jefferies had a dispute with the network executives, the Pawn Stars cast was forced to cut ties with him. A bitter Jefferies is now suing the gang for a breach of contract. It will be interesting to see such skilled price-negotiators haggling for a settlement amount in court.
Hello, My Name Is
For such a funny, dim-witted character in such a big, tattooed frame, the name Austin Lee Russell just does not fit. It just seems too official. Chumlee just seems to have a ring to it. The now-famous nickname was given to him as he was said to resemble Chumlee, a cartoon walrus, from the CBS animated series Tennessee Tuxedo. Chumlee has a different take, saying he was called Chumlee on a whim by childhood friend Mike, and the name simply stuck.
From as early as they could remember, little Austin and Corey were like two peas in a pod. They were completely inseparable and did everything together. This would eventually bleed into their adulthood after Corey’s dad, Rick Harrison and his grandpa Richard Harrison opened the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in 1989. The boy who would eventually be known as Chumlee and his best friend spent many years together in the pawn shop before becoming full-time employees at the store.
Chumlee’s love for video games and Pokemon is not the only cultural avenue that he is extremely passionate about. Chumlee has a deep love for many different genres of music, TV and film. At an early age, Chumlee was very much into the punk subculture, but as time went on, he became more of a rap aficionado. When it comes to TV, Chumlee is obsessed with popular shows such as Boardwalk Empire and one of the greatest shows of all time, Breaking Bad.
As demonstrated in many episodes of Pawn Stars, Chumlee is quite the expert when it comes to pinball machines. One summary of the episode “Pinball Punch” reads as follows, “Become a pinball wizard with the Pawn Stars when Chumlee checks out two classic machines. Can he get the high score or will it be game over?” His deep rooted passion for pinball machines has often been joked about throughout the show. He even owns a couple of machines.
The Fast And The Curious
It is no secret that Chumlee has an incredible passion for classic automobiles. After building up his fortunes from his time spent on Pawn Stars, Chum Lee has built up a long, impressive collection of cars that he takes much pride in displaying on his estate. His most beloved car is his 1986 Buick Regal. However, he also owns a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Maserati GranTurismo, a Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, and a 1964 Impala SS.
Did you know that Chumlee has become so famous that he ended up on a cartoon? Because he has such a distinctive appearance, Chumlee’s appearance was used a template for a recurring character in the anime TV show Little Witch America. Ironically, the character is a shopkeeper and even has full tattoo sleeves on both arms. It goes to show how far Chumlee’s influence has spread and he has truly left an impression on pop culture around the world.
All this legal drama raised the question: what will happen to Chumlee’s role on Pawn Stars? The crimes that Chumlee was accused of were very serious, so there were worries how it would affect the TV show as well as the business of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. The announcement that one character would be playing a “reduced role” made a lot of people look towards Chumlee. However, it was “Old Man” Harrison who will be on the backburner. Chumlee’s issues somehow did not affect his TV role.
Chum Chum Room
Some of the things that the police found in their search of Chum’s house were unexpected. First of all, the cops found twelve guns of different varieties, big and small, and some were even loaded with bullets. Problematically, only four of which were registered to Chumlee. Also, according to the arrest report, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers discovered one of the rooms in the mansion was called the “Chum Chum Room.” This room is complete with a pole, presumably for exotic dancing.
Turn Down For… Jail
Chumlee’s DJing career took a downturn after his 2016 arrest following a police raid at his mansion. Instead of being at home to practice spinning discs for his DJ set a couple days later at Las Vegas’ Tru Nightclub, Chumlee was in jail. Through his lawyer, Chumlee decided to cancel the whole affair, which makes sense as he had a lot on his plate to deal with. After he posted $60,000 bail, Chumlee was less focused on music and more on maintaining his freedom.
Fans had a big scare when tabloid site ebuzzd reported that Chumlee had passed away. The article posted alleged that Chumlee had suffered a heart attack as a complication of losing so much weight in a short period of time. The site is the source of many other celebrity death hoaxes that turned out to be false, but most people do not actually read the articles, so the news spread. Chum provided relief to us all when he tweeted “from the grave” that he was in fact okay.