Corey Harrison, known to many as ‘Big Hoss’ following his appearance in one of the most popular reality TV shows ever produced, “Pawn Stars,” is the son and heir of the legendary Rick Harrison. Corey’s extremely enviable position in the business means that he will one day inherit the vast empire his father and grandfather have poured blood, sweat and tears into, effectively becoming a millionaire through nothing but the blood in his veins.
However, that is not to say that Corey doesn’t work his hardest to also earn this privilege – born on 27 April 1983, Corey Harrison grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada USA, where he was introduced to the world of pawnbroking at a young age. His grandfather, Richard Benjamin Harrison, co-founded the now-World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, and Corey began working there when he was just nine years old.
The grandson’s early life was steeped in the pawn shop business, as he had to follow the path that his predecessors had previously paved. He was trained in the art of appraisal, learning how to spot a cheat, and handle everything from hiring and firing employees to managing eBay clients. His father, Rick Harrison, and grandfather were his mentors, teaching him the intricate ropes of the craft undertaken by few, and publicized by even fewer.
Regardless of the demanding nature of the job, Corey was determined to prove his worth and earn his keep in the family business, steadily absorbing the invaluable experience shared by his predecessors. He also had a massive reputation to uphold, as over the years the senior Harrisons had built a name that began to reverberate throughout the country.
His first appearance on television was not a matter of chance, but a result of his father’s innovative idea to pitch their daily operations as a reality show. The concept was initially met with skepticism by most television networks, but it was eventually picked up by the History Channel, and premiered on 19 July 2009. The title “Pawn Stars” was an instant hit, and Corey became a household name overnight, along with the rest of the cast members.
Corey’s rise to fame came about not just due to being featured on television, but through everyone’s witnessing of his expertise and unique personality, that resonated with almost every viewer. His ability to appraise a wide range of items, from historical artifacts to rare collectibles, and his often tough negotiating skills made him a key figure on the show. His dynamic with his father and grandfather, as well as his childhood friend Austin ‘Chumlee’ Russell, added a layer of family and friendship to the otherwise business-oriented show.
Naturally, as the series began to diverge more into its spin-offs than the main storyline, sometime after the 21st season in 2022, the fans began to wonder what would happen to the Harrisons, and especially Corey, who is expected to inherit the entire store at some point, and lead the family in continued successes.
Both hot and blue-blooded
It’s no exaggeration to say that Corey comes from a line of very successful individuals who had already built the family’s empire prior to his birth. While numerous fans continue to find Corey’s story of upbringing to be quite inspirational, in reality, it can’t be compared to the hardships his father and grandfather had to endure. All of this grandiosity further adds to the now immortal Harrison legacy, that will perpetuate as long as people watch reality TV shows.
The one who started it all
The tale of Richard Benjamin Harrison, affectionately known as ‘Old Man,’ is one of resilience, adaptability, and the pursuit of the American dream. Born on 4 March 1941, in Danville, Virginia, Richard’s early life was marked by great economic hardship. The Great Depression had left an indelible mark on his family, having passed only two years prior to his birth.
Richard’s life took a dramatic turn when he was just a teenager, as he found both love and duty at about the same time. He stole a car at the age of 17, which could very well have led him down a path of crime and punishment. However, a judge offered him a choice: he could either face jail time or enlist in the military.
Richard chose the latter, marking the beginning of a 20-year career in the US Navy. His time of sailing the open waters not only provided him with discipline and structure, but also allowed him to see the world, shaping him into the man he would become.
It's #MerchMonday at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop! Check out our new "World Famous" hoodie worn by Corey…
Harrison ventured into the real estate market after his military service – a decision that would ultimately lead to a significant financial setback. He ended up losing over $1 million through the endeavor, which was a devastating blow that forced him to uproot his family and seek a fresh start in Las Vegas.
It was here that the seeds of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop were sown, as the idea for such a store seemed quite profitable at the time. Richard opened the pawn shop with an initial investment of $10,000 in 1988, with the venture requiring him to quickly learn about a wide array of items likely to come to the shop, from Rolexes to antique cars.
The pawn shop business was not just about buying and selling items, it was about understanding their value and manipulating the intricacies regarding each individual object throughout the purchase and sale – a skill that Richard honed over multiple decades.
His ability to assess the value of anything accurately, coupled with his knack for obtaining merchandise at a much lower price, even from rival pawn shops, turned his initial investment into a multi-million dollar business over the years.
An unexpected choice
Richard left behind a legacy that was as intriguing as it was controversial, as the many events that took place under the roof of his pawn shop continue to echo with both praise and admonition. His life was a tapestry of experiences, but one of the most contentious threads was the drama surrounding his last will.
The Old Man made a decision in the twilight of his life that sent shockwaves through his family and the public alike. He chose to exclude one of his three sons, Christopher, from his will. This decision was not spur-of-the-moment, but a deliberate and considered action. Harrison’s will was updated in 2017, a year before his passing, and it explicitly stated that Christopher was to receive no benefits from his estate.
The news of this exclusion was met with surprise and speculation, as the reasons behind this decision were not publicly disclosed, leaving a shroud of mystery around the entire situation. Some assumed that there may have been a falling out between father and son, while others suggested that Christopher was financially independent, and thus didn’t need the inheritance.
The controversy was further fueled by the fact that Harrison’s estate was rather substantial – an agglomeration of decades of success – as a prominent businessman and television personality, he’d amassed significant wealth over his lifetime. His other two sons, Rick and Joseph, along with his wife JoAnne Rhue Harrison, were the beneficiaries of this imposing legacy.
The public reaction to this controversy was mixed, as some saw Harrison’s decision as his personal right, while others viewed it as harsh and unfair treatment of Christopher. The unpopular decision also raised questions about the dynamics within the Harrison family, and whether there were underlying issues that the public wasn’t privy to.
Son of a great father, father of a famous son
Rick was born Richard Kevin Harrison on 22 March 1965, in the small town of Lexington in North Carolina, to parents Richard Benjamin Harrison Jr. and Joanne Harrison. He was the third child in the family, with an older sister named Sherry who tragically passed away at the age of six, an older brother named Joseph, and a younger brother named Chris.
The Harrison family’s life took a significant turn when Rick was just two years old, as Richard was transferred to San Diego for his US Navy duties, and the family had to relocate. This move marked the beginning of a new chapter in their journeys, one that would eventually lead them to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas.
Rick’s childhood wasn’t an ideal experience, as he began experiencing epileptic seizures at the tender age of eight. This health condition often confined him to bed, but it also sparked a lifelong love of reading in him, since that was just about the only activity he could enjoy regularly at the time. This voracious habit not only helped him pass the time during his bouts of illness, but also broadened his horizons and nurtured his curiosity.
His formal education was cut short when he dropped out of Taft Middle School in San Diego during his sophomore year, due to not seeming practical enough to his teenage self. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his entrepreneurial ambitions, as he started a business selling fake Gucci bags, which reportedly earned him $2,000 a week.
Rick’s personal life has been as eventful as his professional one, with his girlfriend Kim becoming pregnant at only 17 years of age. Despite suffering a miscarriage, the couple decided to tie the knot and continue trying for as long as it took – they had their first child, Corey, on 27 April 1983, and Adam two years later. However, their marriage didn’t last, and they separated very soon after their second child’s birth.
— corey harrison (@corey_harrison) March 29, 2018
The broken-hearted reality star met a certain Tracy on a blind double date about nine months later, and she turned out to be the second woman of his life. They moved in together after dating for six months, and married after another eight. They took on the responsibility of raising Corey and Adam together, as Tracy didn’t mind taking care of another woman’s children. Completely unexpectedly by that point, this marriage also ended in divorce, but after 25 long years.
Harrison announced his engagement to Deanna Burditt in 2012, only a year after his second divorce. The couple married on 21 July 2013, in a lavish ceremony in Laguna Beach, California, and it seemed that he’d finally settled for the rest of his life. Alas, it turned out yet again that irreconcilable differences eventually became too numerous to ignore, and they divorced after seven years.
Rick’s final romantic choice seems to be Amanda Palmer, whom he married in 2021. That said, knowing his general history with women and how serious and long-term commitment simply never seems to work in his favor, many fans continue to speculate that this union will end in disaster as well.
What is Corey doing now?
The youngest of the three legendary Harrisons seems to be as involved with filming “Pawn Stars” as ever, with the 21st season in full swing on the History Channel. As the show’s popularity continues to climb to levels almost unprecedented for a reality series, there seems to be no end in sight for the ever-growing legacy of Las Vegas’ most iconic pawn shop.
The premiere of this much-anticipated installment took place on Wednesday, 15 March, at 9pm ET on the History Channel. This time, the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, a business that has been thriving since the late 1980s and has even been featured on Comedy Central and in a PBS documentary, will take a backseat as the Harrisons hit the road. They will be visiting multiple stores, meeting sellers, and apparently acquiring some of the most valuable items ever seen in the series.
The power trio of Rick, Corey and Chumlee is back to entertain the audience with their unique blend of knowledge, negotiating skills, and humor. In a sneak peek shared on social media, Rick Harrison is seen negotiating a deal for a handwritten letter by George Washington, eventually settling on a price of $18,000. The teaser also hints at the appearance of Booker T’s original wrestling boots, valued at $6,000 and authenticated by Booker T himself.
The upcoming season also teases the appearance of a painting valued at a staggering $3.8 billion, marking it as the most expensive item ever featured in the show. Without a doubt, the team is as dedicated as ever to pushing the bar they themselves have set over the years, and the millions of fans around the world are brimming with excitement to watch Corey and his father make the promised exquisite deals.
Aside from posting about “Pawn Stars” on social media, Corey is also busy raising a son and navigating his way through the consequences of a tumultuous history with women, according to which the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Corey met his first wife named Karina back in high school, around 1998; they began dating in 2001 and stayed together without further commitment for almost a decade, finally marrying in 2009, although it was apparently clear to everyone who knew them that things weren’t going to work out between them as the years went by – the couple divorced in 2015.
Korina then came into the reality TV star’s life, and that time it was much easier for Big Hoss to make the big decision, having married her in 2017. In spite of the initial joy, the apparent curse of the Harrisons worked its magic after only a short while, leading them to divorce in 2018.
Their inability to function together notwithstanding, the two were kept relatively close by the birth of Richard Benjamin Harrison only a month after their marriage. Corey thus remains a committed father, and makes sure to balance his career and fatherly duties to the best of his abilities.