• The reality series “Hardcore Pawn” aired on truTV for 9 seasons from 2010-2015, attracting more than two million viewers during the pilot episode and averaging over three million during its run
• Leslie ‘Les’ Gold is the owner of American Jewelry and Loan, star of the series, and credited as one of the show’s producers
• Les became a successful businessman in Detroit and wrote and published an autobiography in 2013
• Les is known for his charitable philanthropy and continues to expand his business
• Les and his son Seth have both actively contributed to the pawn industry and are still in business
“Hardcore Pawn” is an American reality television series, that aired on truTV for a total of nine seasons, from its debut in August 2010 until its cancellation in April 2015. The series documents the day-to-day events as they unfold at the family-owned pawnbroker, American Jewelry and Loan, located on 8 Mile Road in Detroit, Michigan.
“Hardcore Pawn” enjoyed a popular reception, attracting more than two million viewers during the pilot episode, and averaging over three million during the course of its run.
To this day, “Hardcore Pawn” remains one of truTV’s most successful shows, and holds the record as the most viewed reality series on the network.
The owner of American Jewelry and Loan, star of the series, and later credited as one of the show’s producers Les Gold, quickly became a familiar name among the show’s audience, and along with his son Seth Gold, celebrated their rise to fame on “Hardcore Pawn”.
Over the course of the nine seasons, the Gold family would entertain viewers with family dramas, and keep viewers hooked with their many curious finds and sales.
Now, with the show long since being cancelled, many of the regular viewers and fans of “Hardcore Pawn” have been wondering what happened to the Gold family.
The burning question for most is whether or not the family-operated pawn shop is still in business, and how the family has been doing since the show went off the air.
Well, for those interested and curious about the Gold family, we dug up everything there is to know about them, which includes their most recent activity, and it seems that they’re still operating their business in Michigan.
The History of the Gold Family
Born on 20 June 1950, Leslie ‘Les’ Gold is the grandson of a pawnbroker who once had the pawnshop Sam’s Loans on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. Les followed his grandfather’s footsteps, entering into the pawnbroking business to become a third-generation pawnbroker and salesperson – his first sale at Sam’s Loans happened when he was only seven years old.
Inspired by his predecessor, Les went on to become one of Michigan’s most successful pawnbrokers, but as Les would admit, was it not for his grandfather’s influence in his life, he might never have made it as a businessman.
Unfortunately, Sam’s Loans closed its doors at some point, as it is now a defunct shop that can no longer be found in Michigan, and according to recent reports, the same building that once hosted Sam’s Loans is now being renovated for use as a restaurant; it seems that it will feature a pawn shop theme though, inspired by the popular reality series “Hardcore Pawn”.
While Les continued with the family business, pawnbroking wasn’t his initial baptism into business, as Les started his first entrepreneurial endeavour at the age of 12, back when he still attended school. During this period of his life, Les bought pizzas at a local parlour, and sold them by the slice to the students in his school.
Les matriculated from school in 1968, and in 1975 he married his wife Lili, with whom he raised two children, namely a son Seth, and daughter Ashley.
So fun! Which episode is your favorite? https://t.co/R2t7xkVYDi
— Seth Gold (@SethHCP) January 23, 2023
Gold opened the doors of his first pawn shop, American Jewelry and Loan, in 1978 at the Eight Green Shopping Centre, which is on the famous 8 Mile Road in Oak Park, Michigan. For the next couple of years, Les would enjoy fair success, but in 1993, he decided to move his business back to his hometown of Detroit.
Here he established American Jewellery and Loan in its current location, with which all the viewers of “Hardcore Pawn” would be familiar.
As the years passed, Gold would become even more successful and expand his pawnbroking business to four more locations, eventually employing over 200 staff to serve an average of 1000 customers a day.
Naturally, Gold’s success afforded him better opportunities, and in 1998, he launched an advertising campaign that would air in ad breaks in between segments of “The Jerry Springer Show”.
While this, of course, attracted the interest of potential customers, it also grabbed the attention of the producer, Richard Dominick, who at the time, worked on “The Jerry Springer Show”.
Interested in the daily drama, events, and curious finds of American Jewellery and Loan, Dominick approached the owners with the hopes of producing a reality series that focused on their daily business.
Initially, Gold’s son Seth didn’t trust Richard, and was adamantly against the production of what would later become “Hardcore Pawn”, but Les decided against his son’s wishes and eventually went through with Dominick’s proposal.
Naturally, Les considered that it might be a wasted golden opportunity that he couldn’t just turn down, and he certainly wasn’t mistaken.
The pilot episode of “Hardcore Pawn” aired in 2009, setting a record for the most viewed pilot on the truTV network, and the success of the show, as they say, is history.
Following the debut of the television reality series, Les gained exposure all over the US as a successful businessman, and certain other parts of the world, prompting him to eventually write and publish an autobiography in 2013.
Les’s book, “For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker”, documented Gold’s life as a successful business owner in Detroit, and also shared some of the entrepreneurial philosophies that he practised, giving other people valuable advice on how to run a business.
Ultimately, Gold’s biography earned the number four spot on the New York Times Best Seller list in the How To, Advice, and Miscellaneous genre in June of 2013. It also achieved the number eight spot in the Hardcover Business Books category that same year, earning Les as much exposure as “Hardcore Pawn”, and establishing him firmly as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Michigan.
Further, Les influenced many other businessmen with both his success on television and his book, including the likes of Josh Linkner, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of ePrize.
While many people might consider Les as just another selfish capitalist, the man earned a reputation in Detroit as a very charitable philanthropist. In fact, Gold is known to actively support a local Michigan organisation that extends aid to less fortunate families unable to pay their utility bills, known as The Heat And Warmth (THAW) Fund.
In 2013, Les hosted a fundraising event in his shop, called Hardcore THAW, during which he was able to raise a total of $40,000 for the charity.
What Is Les Gold Doing Now?
Since the conclusion of “Hardcore Pawn”s final season in 2015, Les has moved on from the show, but certainly hasn’t shied away from the cameras. While many people might be wondering what the veteran pawnbroker is up to, especially concerning rumours that Gold went bankrupt, it’s safe to say that he’s far from retirement.
According to rumours spread on social media, Les and his business, American Jewellery and Loan, allegedly went bankrupt in 2018, but fortunately, these rumours haven’t been confirmed.
As per these reports, Gold might have been scammed out of a little less than $500,000, but this is all nothing more than speculation, as both Les and his son, Seth, still seem to be in business.
In fact, according to the father-son duo, they invested in several business expansions for the American Jewellery and Loan franchise in 2021, opening up more shops in the cities of Southgate and Lincoln Park, both located in Michigan.
As far as we can tell, business seems to be ever-increasing for the Gold family, and it certainly appears that the bankruptcy claims can be proven as false. If the Gold family really was scammed out of all that money, they never reported it to the public, though even if it did happen, it didn’t affect business for them too much.
Although “Hardcore Pawn” might no longer be on air, save for maybe a couple of reruns, when asked about the possibility of producing a new season, Les seemed to express interest.
However, it remains an unlikely probability, but no doubt, should the Gold family ever return to our screens, they might yet again enjoy a popular reception.
Despite stepping away from the cameras in 2015, Les maintained his public profile by appearing in several other reality television shows and competitions. Among his appearances, Les starred in an episode of Food Network’s “Chopped”, showing the world that he’s as capable in the kitchen as he is behind the counter of a shop.
Les also appeared as a guest in the talk show, “League One: In The Spotlight!”, discussing his success as a pawnbroker, and what it’s like to make the transition into reality television.
While still keeping busy expanding his business and keeping his public profile alive, Les continues to express an active interest in charity and philanthropy. Among his most recent charitable donations and active support, Les lent a hand to the non-profit organisation “Wigs For Kids” which supports young cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Aside from that, Les seems to keep his personal life strictly private, and there isn’t much else to report on Gold. As far as can be determined, he’s still happily married to his wife Lili, and it appears that his son Seth, and daughter Ashley, might one day inherit the family business, though Les’s retirement doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.
As for Seth, he continues to do his part for the family pawnbroking business, and in 2019, launched a digital project that could potentially revolutionise the pawn industry. Entitled FastPawn, it works in association with PawnMate.Inc; it’s an online application that helps to simplify the loan renewal process, as well as making it easier to digitally complete payments for purchases and loan repayments.
Seth also contributed to the launch of new shops in Southgate and Lincoln Park, as the co-owner of the family business.