News and Tribune

March 22, 2013

Austin man on ‘Pawn Stars’

Sells Biblical-era coin on History Channel’s hit show


AUSTIN — When a coin collector from Austin purchased an ancient shekel at a state auction, he didn’t know the item would land him an appearance on one of his favorite television shows.

Ryan Payne, 30, recently appeared on the History Channel’s nationally broadcasted show, “Pawn Stars,” where he sold the coin for $1,600.

Payne said he purchased the silver coin, a shekel of Tyre, among a lot of about eight coins for several hundred dollars.

“It [the shekel] was used widely in ancient Jerusalem and other middle eastern countries to my knowledge,” he said.

Payne said he believes the coin was equal to about a week’s wage for a commoner when it was in use nearly 2,000 years ago.

“It was the same type of coin that supposedly was given to Judas to betray Jesus,” Payne said.

He said the coins were in such wide use that it’s unlikely the shekel he purchased was one of the 30 coins referenced in the Bible.

Payne said he was familiar with coins similar to the shekel he bought, but only from books he owns on ancient coins.

“I had heard of them before,” he said. “I had not actually seen one up close.”

Thinking he may have had something special, Payne went to the History Channel’s website to submit the coin to be featured on “Pawn Stars,” something he had never done before in his history of collecting coins.

“When I submitted the item to them, I would say within 30 minutes I got an email back that they were wanting more information,” Payne said. “It was really a speedy process.”

Payne said he originally got the idea to make the submission to “Pawn Stars,” which is filmed in Las Vegas, because he already had plans to take a trip to Sin City.

He was able to coordinate his travel plans with his appearance on the show.

“They were really good to deal with, all and all,” he said of the production company that acted as a liaison between him and the cast of “Pawn Stars.”

While Payne had never appeared on the hit show, it wasn’t his first time he had visited the Las Vegas pawn shop where the show is filmed.

He had gone to the business about three years ago and was able to interact with the show’s cast members including the old man, Richard Harrison, the show’s hard-nosed star, Rick Harrison, his son, Corey Harrison, and of course the loveably helpless Chumlee.

During the filming Payne sold his shekel to Rick Harrison, his favorite cast member.

“It was pretty well like a real-life situation,” Payne said of bartering with the TV star. “You watch him on the show, and you see him as this hard guy, this hard negotiator. So, being able to get what I wanted for it was pretty good.”

After the sell was made, the coin was discovered as stolen, Payne said. The item was then put on hold and a investigation was conducted. Payne said after the coin was ran through a database, the hold was lifted, and the coin remained in the ownership of the “Pawn Stars” gang.

Payne said it took about two hours of filming for the handful of minutes he appeared on the show.

“There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff, and I had to sign a lot of nondisclosure agreements,” he said. “There is a lot of work, worrying about the microphones and all that stuff. It is a real job.”

While it took a lot of work, Payne said he is glad to have had the opportunity to appear on the show. But, he said he’s looking forward to his life to returning to normal.

“I am ready for it all to settle down.” he said. “Where I live up there in Scott County it is a real small community. Everybody knows everybody and going out to eat everybody wants to come talk to me and stuff like that.”

Payne said a lot of people are interested if the show paid for his travel expenses. He tells them he had to pay his own way, but it was worth it.

And, Payne said you don’t have to be a veteran collector, like himself, to have a chance to be on “Pawn Stars.”

“I just encourage anyone, you know, if you have something you think might be something of interest go to and submit it. It’s worth a chance. Especially, if you are going out there anyway.”

While Payne’s local stardom may be short lived, he said appearing on the show is an experience he will never forget.

“It was kind of a weird feeling,” Payne said of seeing himself on the show that is broadcasted to nearly 40 countries. “It’s something that my kids will be able look back on.”