Les Gold Biography

Les Gold is an American pawnbroker, entrepreneur, reality TV star, and media personality. As the patriarch of the ‘American Jewelry and Loan’ pawnshops in Detroit, he has earned international fame through his reality show ‘Hardcore Pawn.’ With nine successful seasons, the show’s unique content and bizarre items have captivated audiences. Beyond his entrepreneurial success, Gold is also known for his community involvement, providing low-cost training and mentoring to aspiring entrepreneurs in Detroit.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Leslie ‘Les’ Gold
  • Age: 73 Years, 73 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Lili Gold (m. 1975), children: Ashley Broad, Seth Gold
  • Born Country: United States
  • Investors
  • Philanthropists
  • Height: 1.87 m
  • City: Detroit, Michigan
  • U.S. State: Michigan

Childhood & Early Life

Leslie “Les” Gold was born on June 20, 1950, into a Jewish family in Detroit, Michigan, US. He attended Oak Park High School. At the age of 7, he made his first sale at Sam’s Loans, a pawn shop once owned by his grandfather. The building of the pawn shop has now been remodeled into a pawn shop-themed restaurant called Gold Cash Gold. Gold’s career began at the age of 12 when he bought pizzas and sold them to his Hebrew School students.


In 1978, Gold opened his first pawn shop, American Jewelry and Loan, at Oak Park’s Green Eight Shopping Center. The shop was later relocated to its present location, a 50,000-foot building on Greenfield Road in Detroit. Gold expanded American Jewelry and Loan and opened its first franchise shop in 2011 after acquiring Premier Jewelry and Loan in Pontiac, Michigan. He opened a second franchise in Hazel Park, Michigan, five years later.

Gold’s pawn shop, American Jewelry and Loan, once purchased Dr. “Death” Jack Kevorkian’s infamous 1968 Volkswagen Minibus for $20,000. Gold also owned the Deathmobile, which he sold at a profit of $5,000 in 2014. Gold’s son, Seth, is a co-owner of American Jewelry and manages its marketing division.

Following the success of his pawn shop, Gold created a reality series called Hardcore Pawn to showcase the day-to-day operations of American Jewelry and Loan. The series premiered on truTV on August 16, 2010, and became one of the most-watched series premieres ever on the channel. Hardcore Pawn ended in 2015 after season 9, but had two spin-offs on the channel: Combat Pawn and Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.

Gold released his autobiography, “For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker,” in 2013. The book reached the fourth spot on The New York Times Best Seller list and was featured on the ABC talk show Good Morning America. In 2019, Gold and Seth unveiled a new mobile pawn system called FastPawn, which allowed customers to carry out pawnbroking cash-free and at their convenience. American Jewelry also launched a first-of-its-kind in-store self-service kiosk.

Gold has been married to Lili since 1975. Their daughter, Ashley Broad, is a producer, businesswoman, and co-owner of American Jewelry and Loan. Their son, Seth, is a University of Michigan alumnus. Gold is involved in various charitable causes and has supported organizations such as The Heat And Warmth Fund (THAW Fund), Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Winning Futures. He has also contributed to the Jalen Rose Academy and financed the Junior Achievement of Southeastern for The Gold Bank to fund the start-ups of Detroit’s young entrepreneurs.

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