MeetLes Gold
Les Gold
Les with the Bentley

Les is the patriarch of the family behind American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit. In a quote from his New York Times Bestselling Book, he says “I am lucky enough to have an unusual job. As a pawnbroker, my business goes in so many directions, there’s no such thing as a typical day at work. One day, I might be taking in a 1965 Bentley in pawn. The next I might be running out into the street after someone who’s just lifted a gold chain. Dealing with the unexpected is one of the reasons I became a pawnbroker—and learning to love the craziness is one of the reasons I’m so good at it.

“My job isn’t easy but I love what I do—and that passion helps me succeed. I first opened my shop, American Jewelry & Loan, in a tiny little 1,500-square-foot space in a strip mall. Now we’ve expanded into a 50,000-square-foot former bowling alley. I started out making 2 or 3 loans a day. Now we make 1,000 loans a day.

“In over five decades years of pawnbroking, I’ve learned invaluable business lessons I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. No business school in the world could have taught me everything I learned in pawn shops: buying, selling, negotiating, managing employees, dealing with customers, advertising, tracking trends in technology and fashion, and predicting the economy’s ups and downs. Doing my job well takes determination, courage, and love.

Becoming a reality television personality was not something that Les predicted, but he has embraced it with gusto. “Once (the producers) came in, they saw the dynamics between members of our family and they said, ‘Wow, this would make a great TV show.’ And then they saw the 40,000 items back there in the shop and said, ‘Wow, that’s an even better show with 40,000 stories.’ ”

The first season of Hardcore Pawn averaged about 1.5 million viewers at 10 p.m., and in 2011, the program moved to its 9 p.m. timeslot on Tuesday nights. The show currently nears the 4 million mark in total viewers, unprecedented ratings for a niche network. The season seven opener on March 26, 2013 drew Tru’s largest 18-49 audience ever, with 1.6 million adults in that coveted demo. That episode was the No. 1 unscripted program in its time period among all basic cable networks for adults and men 18-49, as well as total viewers.

This increased visibility and notoriety has catapulted him into speaking engagements, sales training seminars, even a TED talk. Further, he engages in product endorsements, commercials, and charity appearances.  He has been sought for comment on Detroit’s financial troubles for media outlets such as The Detroit News, The Huffington Post, TMZ, and Fox Business.

Les is known for his easy-to-remember negotiating tips, which are often the topic of his media appearances including: The Today Show, Yahoo! Financially Fit, Good Morning America, Inc. Magazine, CNN Your Money, Forbes Magazine, and more. Learn more about Les Gold at his Wikipedia page or

Book Les for a Speaking Engagement at his SPEAKERS PAGE.

Shop Now +


You love Hardcore Pawn, now you can show your hardcore pride by grabbing our exclusive merchandise—hats, t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, and more. Personalization and autographs are free!
Les' New Book
Read more +

Les' New Book

Les Gold’s New York Times Bestseller "For What it’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker" is now on shelves! Readers will learn secrets to his success in this autobiographical business book. Check our ‘Upcoming Events’ tab for signing events, speaking engagements, and other appearances near you!
Watch the Preview


Pawntoons! An animated series featuring Les, Seth, and Ashley Gold. Be sure that you subscribe to our American Jewelry and Loan YouTube channel!