If you have seen thirty–two year old Austin Russell lately you may not have been able to identify him. He has lost over one hundred pounds with another fifty pounds to go, according to a recent interview. Above is a shot of him from the show a few years ago next to Chumlee at an autograph session in 2014.
Why can’t you remember him? Probably because he is known on the television reality show Pawn Stars, as Chumlee. After being diagnosed as a pre–diabetic Chumlee decided to check into lap–band surgery. His father had suffered many of the health issues he was now facing. Having lost his father at only age 54 to pancreatic cancer gave him the incentive to transform his life.
He began to lose weight immediately with the assistance of daily work outs at a gym. The lap–band system not only helps the patient lose weight, it maintains the weight loss. A soft, saline filled silicone ring is placed around the upper part of the patients stomach. It is superior to any other weight loss surgery. Completely non–invasive, reversible and adjustable, it is available to patients of differing sizes and needs. The stomach is reduced to a little pouch, hindering the amount of food one can consume. Since the band is adjustable, any discomfort can be relieved, or changed according to weight loss.
Austins surgeon made very small cuts to his abdomen and used diminutive cameras in order to see into his stomach. The band was put in place with long thin laparascopic instruments. Once the pouch is encased in the band there is a small opening to the remainder of the stomach to allow for digestion. The new stomach pouch fills quickly and empties slowly, so the person feels full longer, eliminating hunger. The outpatient surgery usually requires less than an hour and the patient goes home after one day.
Austin was an employee of the pawn shop for five years before the show Pawn Stars began. As a friend to Corey Harrison since they were kids, Austin knew the Harrison family who own the pawn shop. He began his career there when he was twenty–one, accomplishing a number of jobs in the business.
Although cast frequently as a buffoon, he actually is an experienced appraiser of several specialized items on the pawn show. Perhaps a bit weary of seeing him belittled and called incompetent, referred to as the village idiot while being characterized as inept and stupid, millions of fans identified with Austin. Those who recognized his intelligence pushed for his acclaim. As he became more popular he formed his own company, selling novelty items on the show. As a fan favorite the ‘Chumlee T–Shirt’ is only one of the prized items in his collection. The Chumlee Bobble–Head Doll is a two foot high, $500 creation.
Enjoying the elevated popularity and new business venture has also increased Austins bank account. He can afford all the (shoes) Jordons, Nikes and hats he desires.
Austins friend Corey Harrison says, “Everybody loves an underdog.”
Austins popularity has increased his activities to the point he now has a personal assistant.
At some point in his life a friends father nicknamed Austin with the sobriquet Chumlee, after a television cartoon walrus on Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. Although a rather disparaging moniker for anyone, he seemed to tolerate the epithet with good humor, from what one could see on television. Perhaps it was a combination of hoping to live longer than his father by losing weight and the ‘pet’ name Chumlee; he chose to make a change in his form in 2012 with the lap band surgery. Austin was very smart in altering his diet and exercising almost every day at a gym. By autumn 2013 he was down by 75 pounds. In 2014 the total Chumlee Weight Loss is 115 pounds. He shows no sign of slowing down, indeed he plans to continue to shape up and take off another fifty pounds. Enjoying his life more than ever, he has embraced his doctors advice by eating fresh fruits and vegetables and omitting red meat from his meals. Although he does admit to surrendering to his hunger inclinations one day a week. He still enjoys sushi occasionally.
Perhaps his employers and friends will now refer to him as Austin instead of a corpulent marine mammal.