Aurelio’s owner makes appearance on “Pawn Stars” TV show
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2012 8:12PM
Joe Aurelio brought in some of his sports collection to show at the Aurelio's Restaurant in Homewood on Sept. 10, 2012. He is holding an autographed Harry Caray banner celebrating 50 years in broadcasting. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:03AM
Las Vegas is home to many pursuits — most involving forking over some cash.
And Joe Aurelio, owner of the popular pizza chain of the same name, figured he could get a few bucks from the “Pawn Stars” while on a business trip to Sin City in March. He enjoys watching the History Channel TV show and liked his chances.
Aurelio, 50, has collected sports memorabilia for years. His collection is large, he said, and he’s been itching to sell some items to make room at home.
That’s how his television debut came to be.
He packed a bit heavier and brought two small metal molds used to make plastic figurines of Joe DiMaggio and John McGraw during the 1963 baseball season. He hoped to make a few bucks from them.
“Collecting got instilled in me as a kid, and I never stopped collecting really. I don’t get rid of anything,” he said.
His wife, Christine, is patient — to a point — but suggested he clear some items from their Orland Park home. Instead, he caught some attention and was invited to return in April to appear on an episode of the show.
He was filmed as he bartered with the pawn shop’s owners, Rick Harrison and his father, who is fondly called “the old man,” to sell the two 50-year-old molds.
“These are big, burly guys. You are on their turf. They’re excellent negotiators. It’s pretty intimidating. You’re not talking for fun,” Aurelio said. “It’s a real negotiation. You see them on TV, but you really don’t know them and there they are in your face.
“I may have gotten a better price if we were talking about cheese,” he said jokingly.
Aurelio wound up making a profit on his initial investment. He spent $400 for the molds nearly 20 years ago from a sports auction house and nearly tripled his money.
As on most episodes, Rick Harrison said he knew a buddy — this time a baseball memorabilia expert — who could come in and determine the molds’ value.
And as in most episodes, Harrison and the old man promptly proceeded to “low ball” Aurelio.
“It turned out the price I guessed was $100 from the expert. I guessed $2,200; he said they were worth $2,300,” Aurelio said. “I sold them for $1,300. They usually try to get it for half-price, and I knew that going in.”
Being on “Pawn Stars” is more work than one may expect.
It took more than two hours to film his two-minute appearance. Lighting and sound had to be just right. He couldn’t look at the camera. And he could not call the guys by their first names. Some scenes were shot again. But when it came to a price, there were no second takes.
“The negotiation is 100 percent real,” he said. “They could tell you to get lost. I could tell them to get lost. It’s all real.”
He’s hoping to one day return to the show.
“I’ve been collecting for years. I have boxes and boxes of things to choose from,” he said.