Reality TV

Grandpa John Schnabel Discusses ‘Gold Rush’, ‘The Dirt’, More (EXCLUSIVE)

“Grandpa” John Schnabel is one of the stars of Gold Rush on Discovery Channel, and he’s a legend in the field of gold mining. He is the founder of the iconic Big Nugget Mine, which he gave it to his grandson Parker Schnabel. In short, he’s made his mark in the Alaskan mining community. From his family losing their farm in the Great Depression, to striking out on his own for Alaska while still a teenager, Grandpa Schnabel has lived more in his 94 years than most people do in a fraction of that time. Hell, he didn’t even become a miner until age 68! Although he’s currently battling prostate cancer, that hasn’t really slowed him down, as he’s still active in the mining community.

Schnabel will appear in the 2-hour season finale of Gold Rush, in addition to making his debut on The Dirt. Both shows are among the most popular in reality TV, as Gold Rush is currently the #1 show on all of television among men, and Discovery Channel’s #1 show overall. Grandpa Schnabel granted a rare interview. It was short, but it was a pleasure to be able to interview one of the most endearing personalities on reality TV at the moment.

How did you and your family adjust after losing the farm?

When I was four years old, we lost our wheat farm in Kansas, moved to California, and finally settled in Klamath Falls, Oregon where I lived until I graduated from school. We lost everything, and when the Depression set in, my father and mother separated. Life went on and we existed on charity and what we could find on land and rivers to help. This experience built my character and ability to persevere when faced with very difficult problems.

You are pretty much a self-made man, having ventured out on your own at age 19. Do you have any advice for young people looking to do the same?

If you are going to succeed you must have confidence and the ability to keep striving forward when things get tough.

How did it feel to see your family come together to mine Smith Creek?

It was very meaningful that my family stepped in in my old age to help finish a job that became too difficult for me to handle alone.

What was it like to be part of the GOLD RUSH pre-show The Dirt? This was the first time for you, right? What was it like?

To be part of “The Dirt” was very rewarding as it gave me an opportunity to address the many fans who felt uplifted by what they observed as a great display of family, love and support.

'Grandpa' John Schnabel Discusses 'Gold Rush', 'The Dirt', More (EXCLUSIVE)

Credit: Discovery Channel

The 2-hour super-sized season finale of GOLD RUSH airs Friday, March 6 at 9 PM on the Discovery Channel with the pre-show THE DIRT at 8 PM.

Episode listings below:

THE DIRT – Pre-Show
Friday, March 6 at 8 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel
Parker’s grandfather, John Schnabel, makes his Dirt debut and Executive Producer Christo Doyle gathers all three mine bosses, Parker Schnabel, Tony Beets and Todd Hoffman to discuss their mad dash to reach their season’s goal. The season was full of gold and as a result, the tension on set was palpable.

GOLD RUSH – 2 Hour, Super-sized Season 5 Finale
Friday, March 6 at 9 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel
Millions in Gold: In the season finale, with the Klondike winter closing in, Parker Schnabel faces mutiny when he announces one last push for 400 ounces. The Hoffman crew gets the largest dozer in the Klondike to secure land for next season and it’s hell or high water as Tony Beets has one last shot at getting his 75-year-old dredge mining for gold. Following the finale, Todd, Parker and Tony come together on the ‘Gold Rush’ after show to react to the exciting end of the season.

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