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The most popular and unexpected tourist attraction in Las Vegas is a pawnshop.
The hottest, newest tourist attraction in Las Vegas is not a posh hotel, or a hip nightclub, or even a sold out Vegas show. The most popular and most unexpected tourist attraction in Las Vegas is a pawnshop, but not just any pawnshop.
Four of the most unlikely TV stars own and run "Gold and Silver Pawn," which also happens to be the setting of one of the biggest reality shows on TV.
"We never thought the show was going to be this big," said Rick Harrison, star of the History Channel’s "Pawn Stars."
Nearly 6 million people tune in each week to watch Rick, his dad Richard "Old Man" Harrison, his son Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison and their family friend Austin "Chumlee" Russell, hash it out with people trying to pawn their often outrageous items.
"You couldn't cast a crew like my family," laughs Harrison. "I’ve been described at the blue collar historian. But I’m really not that cool."
But many of their viewers would beg to differ. It seems they can’t get enough of the "Pawn Stars".
"It’s amazing,” said fan favorite "Chumlee." "I get here in the morning and there are 50 people in line already waiting for the door to open."
Tourists by the busload come to "Gold and Silver Pawn" each day, hoping to get a glimpse of the stars and if they are lucky an autograph or picture.
"We live in Portland, Oregon and we saw them on TV over and over again," said Cindy Nicholas. "How could we pass this up chance?"
And once inside the pawnshop, it’s a feast for the eyes. Items range from the ordinary: diamond rings and watches, to the extraordinary: the battle plans for Iwo Jima, three Olympic Medals and famous works of art.
"Funny thing is I found out other reality TV is not that much reality, but this is me," said Harrison. "You can walk around the store and see the things I bought on TV."
Pawn Stars is not only a reality TV phenomenon, it’s also been a big boost for Las Vegas tourism. Gold and Silver Pawn is located in downtown Vegas, along a stretch of the strip that the city has been trying to revitalize for years.
"This was the part of Las Vegas was the forgotten part of the strip," said Corey Harrison. "We were the place where you drove through from the Stratosphere to Fremont Street. Now people stop in the middle."
This hasn’t gone unnoticed. The mayor of Las Vegas recently gave Rick Harrison the keys to the city.
"Pawnshops are like restaurants. You got your really greasy spoons and you got tavern on the green," jokes Harrison. "And this is a tavern on the green."