In January 2022, an online advertisement teased a photograph of “Gold Rush” cast member Parker Schnabel, hinting that he or another cast member admitted that the show is fake. This was perhaps what led some Google users to search for if “Gold Rush” is real.
We soon found that the ad was misleading.
The TV show debuted on the Discovery Channel in 2010 under the initial title, “Gold Rush: Alaska.” For readers unfamiliar with what “Gold Rush” is about, the official website provided the following synopsis:
Follow the lives of ambitious miners as they head north in pursuit of gold. With new miners, new claims, new machines, and new ways to pull gold out of the ground, the stakes are higher than ever. But will big risks lead to an even bigger payout?
“Gold Rush” was in its 12th season at the time when the ad showed up with Schnabel’s photograph and the claim that the cast purportedly admitted that the show was fake.
The ad with Schnabel’s picture read: “[Pics] The Cast Finally Admit That the Show Is Fake.”
After clicking the ad, we were led to a lengthy slideshow article with the headline: “40 Popular Reality Shows That Are Far From Real.”
However, nowhere in the lengthy article did it mention Schnabel or “Gold Rush.” It was nothing but misleading clickbait.
While the ad and its resulting article were both misleading, we did locate a potentially relevant interview with one person who was once a part of the “Gold Rush” cast.
According to IMDb, former “Gold Rush” cast member Jimmy Dorsey only appeared in six episodes near the beginning of the show’s run, back in 2010 and 2011. (It’s unclear if this episode count on IMDb was accurate.)
In 2016, at least two online articles cherry-picked parts of an answer from an old interview with Dorsey. For example, one headline read, “‘Gold Rush’ Is Fake, According To Former Cast Member.” Another article said that the show’s “fakery” was “exposed.”
Oregon Gold: Was the show scripted?
Jimmy Dorsey: Sure. Every formatted documentary is scripted. It is scripted from the beginning. They knew exactly what they wanted to see out of the program. Even me leaving was scripted, but in the way in which it happened was not. The plans were made, but the footsteps were ours. They actually direct you into these situations. It became very real. That is why I actually got my ribs broke. There was a fight… not even a fight… I was assaulted by Greg. He broke my ribs. That was very real, but it was also in the script for episode four which ended up being episode six, that I would end up leaving the show. They kind of push you towards, making these things happen. They would tell me to say, “We’ve got to get gold in seventy hours,” so I say, “We’ve got to get gold in seventy-two hours.” Then they would say, “What are you going to do if you don’t get gold in seventy-two hours?” And I am like, “I don’t know you just told me to say seventy hours.” Then they said, “What are you going to do if you don’t get gold?” They push you towards saying I was going to leave if we did not find gold. It was never my intention to leave. My plan was staying the entire summer and seeing it out.
While Dorsey did claim that his departure from the show was planned and that various aspects of the episodes were scripted, nowhere in his answer did he say that Discovery’s “Gold Rush” series is fake.
Perhaps most important to the show’s draw was the question of whether the discoveries made while mining for gold were real. Dorsey said nothing about the mining aspect of the show being fake. Instead, he did the opposite by answering several questions that appeared to shed light on just how real the mining process purportedly is on “Gold Rush.”
Further, the two aforementioned articles that had sensationalized headlines appeared to cherry-pick from Dorsey’s answer. Both stories omitted the portion where he mentioned he was physically assaulted on the set. Dorsey said that it ended with his ribs being broken. The stories also omitted that the show’s crew allowed the cast to choose the “footsteps” for how various aspects of the episodes played out.
As for Schnabel, who was pictured in the misleading ad, we were unable to find where he ever said that “Gold Rush” was fake. For all of these reasons, we have rated the claim as “Mostly False.”
Snopes debunks a wide range of content, and online advertisements are no exception. Misleading ads often lead to obscure websites that host lengthy slideshow articles with lots of pages. It’s called advertising “arbitrage.” The advertiser’s goal is to make more money on ads displayed on the slideshow’s pages than it cost to show the initial ad that lured them to it. Feel free to submit ads to us, and be sure to include a screenshot of the ad and the link to where the ad leads.
Sources:Gold Rush. Discovery Channel, https://www.discovery.com/shows/gold-rush.“Gold Rush: Alaska | Jimmy Dorsey Interview.” Oregon Gold, 2011, http://www.oregongold.net/gold-rush-alaska-jimmy-dorsey-interview/.“Jimmy Dorsey.” IMDb, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4960208/.