Leslie Gold is an American pawnbroker, reality television personality, author and media personality. He is best known for his role on truTV’s cable and satellite reality series Hardcore Pawn.
Leslie “Les” Gold is a third generation pawnbroker/salesman, the grandson of a Jewish pawnbroker who once owned Sam’s Loans, a now defunct pawn shop on Michigan Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. At Sam’s Loans, Gold made his first deal when he was 7 years old.
Gold started his first business at the age of 12, buying pizza and selling them whole to fellow students at Hebrew school. Gold opened his own pawnshop, American Jewelry and Loan, in 1978 at the Green Eight Mall on 8 Mile Road in Oak Park. In 1993, he moved it to its current location near 8 Mile off Greenfield Road in Detroit—a 50,000-square-foot building that was formerly a bowling alley. The company now has five locations, employs as many as 200 people, and serves approximately 1,000 customers each day.
Gold, his family and his pawn shop are the focus of truTV’s series Hardcore Pawn.
In 1998, independent producer Richard Dominick saw Gold’s TV commercial run during a local commercial break on the Jerry Springer Show that Dominick was producing at the time . He saw potential in Les and his business as a reality TV show, and pitched the idea to the Gold family. Les’ son Seth was initially reluctant, but Les overruled him and agreed to let the cameras in. The pilot episode aired in late 2009. Dominique serves as an executive producer on the series alongside Mike Garmson. Les and Seth Gold are also credited as executive producers starting with season three.
The series premiere attracted 2 million viewers, the most watched truTV premiere ever. As of June 2013, the ratings exceeded 3 million.