As belligerent and difficult as Gold Rush’s star Tony Beets is, I can’t help admiring his vision, drive and determination. This self-fashioned King of the Klondike is a force of nature and he’s built considerable personal success on decades of hard-work and risk-taking in one of the most challenging businesses there is : mining for gold buried in the perma-frosted wilderness of Alaska.
Raw Television’s series Gold Rush is in it’s tenth series on the Discovery Channel and over several weeks I have enjoyed watching the highs and lows of veteran and rookie miners as they chase their fortunes “washing rocks to put some gold in the box”.
Tony has mined the region for many years since moving to the Klondike from Holland and has built a fearsome reputation for his unyielding focus on making money – no matter what it takes.
In Series 9 and 10 he bets big on buying two abandoned and ancient dredgers; paying a couple of million dollars for each before promptly wrecking them so he can transport them down-river to mine his claims.
To the uninitiated, many of Tony’s antics might seem reckless. He is literally like a bull in a china shop as he drives his crew to get back to production as quickly as possible. Pushing ancient and apparently poorly maintained equipment to it’s limits and beyond then driving all manner of Heath-Robinson repairs to overcome every challenge.
So far so what? Lots of people can fettle a bush repair for the cameras and evidence a rollercoaster of emotions due to poor planning. But that’s not it.
What makes Tony such a compelling character for me is his unwavering self-belief and ability to back himself to the point of bankruptcy. Trusting his experience and sheer bloody-mindedness will overcome all and deliver a bounty each season before the freezing winters set in.
As business owners it’s tempting sometimes to keep the cash in hand and not make big bets for fear of losing your shirt or your reputation – but these gold miners are something else – and to survive as long as Tony Beets has, you have to be the best.
Texan entrepreneurs have a similar creed – go big or go home. They invented the phrase to “bet the ranch” it seems and they are comfortable with taking eye-watering risks in the pursuit of glory, wealth and reputation. Maybe it’s the spirit of The Alamo – either way, it’s great television and an inspirational lesson in leadership under the most challenging conditions.
As Art Williams might say: “Dad Gummit! Just Do it!“