It gets better, though. For the show’s third season, premiering Friday, October 26 (click here to set your DVR), someone actually hits the mother lode. “After two years of equipment breakdowns, infighting and battling Mother Nature, this season one crew finally strikes it rich,” the network announced earlier this month.
Discovery isn’t revealing whether it’s 18-year-old miner Parker Schnabel, “Dakota” Fred Hurt and his son Dustin, or the show’s macho star Todd Hoffman, who dramatically announced that he planned to find 1,000 ounces of gold this season – more than 10 times the amount they unearthed last season. We caught up with Hoffman and his father, Jack, following an appearance on E!’s pop culture send up “The Soup,” where the “Gold Rush” duo’s frequent use of the mining term “glory hole” is regularly given the giggle treatment – or as host Joel McHale admitted, “We may have been unfair to Jack Hoffman and his crew, manipulating their footage in such a way to amuse our own 7th grade sensibilities.”
The Hoffmans shared thoughts on the new season, mining, and their surprise guest stint on “The Soup,” which still had Todd laughing long after he’d left the stage. “They make fun of us and infer we’re gay,” he says. “At first we were pretty pissed. But after a while we thought it was pretty funny, and it is.”
“You have to have a sense of humor or you’re just going to be mad all the time,” adds Jack.
“We are on reality TV,” says Todd. “So that itself is already strange.”
So, you’re the top-rated series on Discovery. Surprised? Thoughts?
Todd: We’re also number one on Friday nights for men. And it makes us feel good because we didn’t do this to become famous. We mine for different reasons. We mine for our faith and our family and then we also mine because we are offering hope to our people. Guys out there really had a hard time during that recession, and that affects marriages, families, outlook. So it is cool for us that a lot of guys are watching the show, rooting for us. I think they want to see something different. They see us guys go out there and try to kick some ass. They know we’re not professional miners, we make a lot of mistakes, we’re just like your average guys at home. I think seeing us working hard gives them hope. We’re all here for each other.
I bet you get a lot of mail. What sort of questions do your fans ask?
Todd: The question I get asked most is Todd, what’s it like being the only good-looking guy on the crew? Is that a lot of pressure on you?
And the answer? Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure to keep up this look.
Jack: People also want to know if we’re set financially, and really, what we tell them in response is to follow their dreams. It could be disastrous. Or it could turn out good. For us, it’s hard work. The season is short; it’s like five months of going like a scalded cat, without quitting.
What is the season?
Todd: You start mining in May and go through June and July mostly. It starts getting cold in August. You never really know what the season is. But you have about a hundred something days of mining, so you’ve got to get with it.
What can you say about this new season, your third?
Todd: This is when you’re going to find out if we are going to keep mining. Or are we done. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s make or break and try to make a living some other way.
Jack: As far as excitement, this season is the best. I think people are going to like it.
Todd: Here’s what you are going to see: It’s intense.
Jack, people seem to have a soft spot for you. Do you get that a lot?
Jack: I think I’m known as the grandpa of the world.
Todd: People either like me or they don’t; there’s no middle ground. But they love Jack. I think they see his heart. My dad is a good man, a good-hearrted guy, and he was a good dad.
Todd, you set a big goal for yourself this season – finding more than 10 times the gold you did last season. What’s up with that?
Todd: I did – and even the guys on my team didn’t believe me. But I thought I could get it. Maybe me and my dad are eternal optimists.
Jack: We have friends who’ve done it. So we know it’s possible.
Todd: But is it doable for us? That was the question – and part of this season. But I make those predictions based on what I can envision. And I saw it.
You and your partner, Dave Turin, split up this season – you form two teams – and from what I understand the competition is pretty fierce. Can you explain?
Todd: It happens, but I don’t want to give away too much. What other questions do you have?
Back to how do you manage as the show’s best-looking guy?
Todd: That’s a secret, too.
I also have some questions from our XFINITY Facebook page followers. Let me ask a few. Most people want to know if you’re hiring…are you?
Todd: I probably get 10 applications a day.
Jack: One guy called me three times yesterday. Four times the day before. A while ago he actually hitchhiked to Alaska from Florida to meet me. We weren’t hiring, but I told him that I’d pay his way back.
When you do hire, what are the qualifications?
Todd: Mostly guys from our hometown first. And your relatives. We try to represent and keep it local. Most of our guys are from right around our house.
One person wanted to know whether you were for Obama or Romney.
Todd: Publicly, we stay neutral. But we’ll vote for the guy who is pro mining. Whoever we feel is going to be best for gold mining is the guy we’ll vote for.
Another person wanted to know if you make a lot of money when you strike gold. Or does the government take a big percentage?
Todd: Your investors are going to take a cut, and you have got – your cut to your guys. You have got to give your guys, but up in the upper Yukon area it is not, the government doesn’t take…
Jack: It ends up being 37 cents per ounce that you pay to the government.
Todd: Not that big. It is an old mining law that they put in place when gold was at $20 an ounce, and they left it to create incentives for people hire and buy up there in the Yukon.
What does it take to be a miner up there?
Todd: You have got to be capitalized better than I am. And you have to – you have got to be all in. You have to believe in gold. If you don’t believe gold is better than cash, then you’re not going to go after it as hard as you need to. It’s all in – or nothing.
DON’T MISS THE ALL NEW SEASON STARTING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26 @ 9/8c ON DISCOVERY. WHO WILL HIT THE MOTHER LODE?