His grandfather, John Schnabel, was his mentor and biggest inspiration as the owner of the Big Nugget mine. At 16 years old, Parker took over the business and even used his college savings to start his own mining company. Now, at age 24, Parker is a gold-mining champion.
So, how much does Parker make?
Last year, it was reported that Parker has mined over $13 million worth of gold since he took over his first operation— and has a net worth estimated at $8 million.
However, don't expect Parker to be wasting his hard-earned money on fancy cars and homes. "We made some money this season, but it’s going right back into the ground," he told Maxim after mining 4,311 ounces in one season. "And what I mean, is that we are buying new equipment to improve our operation. I don’t own a boat or any fancy cars or a fancy house. I have a big expensive sand box instead."
Parker has also been open about the affect of working long hours has had on his social life, including his breakup with former girlfriend Ashley Youle. "I don’t make the time to keep in touch with [friends from high school], it’s just a hell of a busy summer,” he told Discovery. "So that’s definitely a downside: all the guys I used to hang out with, they’ve moved on, and I’ve moved on and don’t really have time to keep up. That’s a bummer, but I’m doing what I love, so that’s what you give up I guess."
But Parker is not slowing down. This season — Parker's goal is a record-breaking 6,000 ounces in gold (worth $7.2 million)— he is determined to stop paying Tony Beets' royalties and to not leave a single ounce of gold behind for his landlord to profit from.
"There's no way in hell we're leaving any of this behind for Tony," he told his foreman Dean Tosczak said on the show. "Not if we can help it."
How much does Parker pay his crew?
The exact salaries of Parker's crew is not known. However, one redditor revealed that Parker pays his workers "hourly and his main team a yearly salary (x date to x date) plus bonus."
Another gold miner, not related to Parker's team, confirmed that his crew is likely paid by commission. "I got a percentage of gold produced. Concentrates haven't been refined yet so I'm not sure how much there is in the end product but I have a basic idea," the miner wrote.
And seeing as Parker has a lean team this season — crew member Brennan Ruautt and Bree Harrison are the only two miners working the Big Red plant — they will all get some nice bonuses, if the team hits Parker's $7.2 million goal.
"We're pretty short-staffed at the moment," Parker explained. "It's a pretty big challenge, but we'll just have to make it work."
Watch Gold Rush Fridays at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.
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