Todd Hoffman, one of the miners in Discovery Channel’s No. 1-rated series Gold Rush, had big sights when he took a gamble by coming from the Klondike to the High Bar mine in Oregon. Fittingly enough for his claim’s name, he had set a very high bar for his team, hoping to extract 5,000 ounces of gold. Unfortunately, as fans of the show have seen, he has only reached about 1/10th of that amount.
Taking another gamble, Hoffman has left High Bar and is moving his team to Buckland. Showing loyalty, his team is even willing to not get paid for a few weeks as they desperately try to make something happen in the new location.
It’s a stressful time for the Hoffman team, not unlike when Todd took another gamble in South America a few years ago. How much more risk can he take? We talked to Todd Hoffman ahead of this week’s episode of Gold Rush.
So, how are you doing considering all that’s been happening?
Todd Hoffman: Oh, my gosh. When you think it can’t get worse, it gets a little bit worse, but you know what? Something happens, and it doesn’t go that way the whole time. Something really cool happens actually [this season].
How did you back out of the agreement you had at High Bar?
Once I moved x amount of dirt, if there’s not enough gold in there, you have an out, so you can either leave, stop or … the only thing I could do was try my hand at their second mine, and so that’s what you’re seeing there.
Do you think a target of 5,000 ounces of gold is still realistic?
I said 5,000 ounces, and at this point in my season, I’m freaking out. I’m ready to throw in the towel is what it feels like. Anyways, yeah it was tough. … to revise that [number] is probably a smart idea, but 5,000 … It doesn’t look like we’re going to hit that at all. It’s one of those things where everything looks good, your testing looks good, but what can you do? Sometimes you get thrown a curve ball like that. It’s tough, you know, because I’m doing it on TV, so talk about embarrassing. It’s tough.
Has this taken a toll on you in terms of stress?
Oh yeah, it always does. It just stresses me out because I want so much for my team. I need gold for all the different guys. If it were just an employee situation it would be different, but these guys are my family. I love these guys. It does, it takes an emotional toll on you. Yeah, it’s horrible. It’s not fun, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
It’s not easy, man, but that’s what they sign up for. When you’re gold mining, you know a lot of people fail at gold mining, it’s not something that happens… It’s not a guaranteed thing. Sometimes the gold just peters on out you and it’s all you can do is keep your head up, but you know what? Something happens, something’s coming in the show. If you keep watching something happens, and I can’t give any of it away, but something miraculous happens. Let’s just say that.
You’ve mentioned your team is kind of like family. Is that why they stuck around when they found out they weren’t going to get paid for a while?
Yeah, they do. They stick around, they’re committed, but you know, they can only take so much, too. At some point, I’ve got to let my guys go home because if I can’t pay them, and they’re not going to get any gold, they need to make money for the summer. They got to have money to make it through the winter. Yeah, it gets bleak, man. The troubles aren’t exactly over.
Are these similar to the issues you had in South America? Did you apply any lessons from that experience here?
Yeah. We just stuck with it. I got on … The cool part about this time when I am going through some hard times is that I have my family with me. That makes things a lot better. You know when you can say a prayer and then you can go back to your family and realize, you know what, I am actually pretty rich. Even though I am losing money everyday I am actually pretty rich. I have family and faith. That’s cool. It makes it a lot easier to handle … You can handle a lot more troubles with your family close than you can when you are living alone in the jungle, sweating, and it’s horrible. That was a tough experience man.
Are there ever times during periods like this when you are tempted to just hang it all up and quit this career?
Yeah. It makes you think that sometimes when you are going through it, but like I said, something happens in the show that is very encouraging. If I kept going year in and year out like this, yeah I would get the hell out of it. I wouldn’t want to go through this one more time.
Speaking of new careers, when we talked to you a few years back, you said you were interested in starting a rock band. How’s that coming?
I actually started singing. I did. I have four songs on the internet. Go to YouTube and just type in Todd Hoffman sings, or Todd Hoffman singing. You can actually find them and watch them. One of my songs did 2 million downloads on Facebook and probably 160,000 downloads on YouTube. I am. I am starting to sing. It’s actually progressing. I am getting better. Yeah, I am starting to get some real singers that want to collaborate, so I am actually moving that way.
Gold Rush Season 7 airs Fridays at 9pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel.