The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Matthew Barnett


Star, Discovery Channel’s top rated show, Gold Rush; Businessman

Married to Shawna

Children: Hunter, 14; Hudson, 12; Olivia, 6


Discovery's Gold Rush Star on finding True Treasure

By The 700 Club

Todd is an evangelical, conservative Christian businessman.  When he was a kid, Todd’s dad went gold mining, something he never forgot.  In 2008, Todd was involved in real estate when the stockmarket crashed in October of that year.  Todd searched for new opportunities.  “I watched the price of gold rise and fall,” says Todd.  With the price of gold on the rise, Todd cited a viable gold claim in Alaska and he and his dad Jack, looked to their community in Oregon to organize a team of unemployed men to work the mines alongside them.  After buying the equipment they needed for a full-scale gold mining operation, they assembled their team.  There was no financial means to pay the men until -- or unless -- they found gold.  “We took our last bit of money and were literally going gold mining.”  Todd has always been one for thinking big.  It’s his hope to rekindle the American Dream and the frontier spirit on which this country was built. 

As they embarked on their journey to the wilds of Alaska, Todd realized no one had filmed anything like this.  “I called a British company and we shot a teaser tape that was presented to the networks,” he says.  “Every single one of them wanted it.”  After deliberating which network to go with, they decided on Discovery Channel.  Currently the series is in its fourth season.  “We control Friday nights,” says Todd.  Over 5 million viewers tune in each week.  It’s the number 1 show on cable on Fridays.

Todd and the men settled in Porcupine Creek to mine for gold in southeast Alaska.  The gold mine is located in the heart of one of the last great wildernesses where weather conditions can change in an instant.  The largest population of bald eagles on earth resides in Porcupine Creek and a nearby river is the site of a year-round salmon run.  Grizzly bears and moose sightings are a daily happening.  The team prepared for serious encounters with wildlife. 

After the first season, Todd and his crew battled Mother Nature and after sinking $250,000 in their project, they only found $20,000 worth of gold.  It was a dismal end to a summer filled with injuries, broken machinery, constant fighting and an unhappy owner.  With the price of gold still skyrocketing (it peaked at $1,900/ounce), they decided to keep their dreams alive.  The men sold everything they owned.  Todd leveraged the small airport he owned in Oregon to fund a second mining season.  After the second season, they produced 93.5 ounces of gold worth about $150,000.  In their third season, Todd and the mining crew mined 803 ounces, worth more than $1.2 million at the time.  This season, Todd and the miners will be in the jungles of Guyana for 6 months.  Todd says after they mine, they reclaim the earth.  Basically they fill in the holes that they dug.  “It’s expensive but better for the environment.”

Todd, 41, was raised in a Christian home but made his faith his own as a sophomore in high school.  He went to Northwest Christian Bible College and started his last year at Multnomah University in Oregon.  Though he was one term away from graduation, Todd says he couldn’t sit for one more hour in a classroom.

He considers himself a survivalist.  “I still believe our debt is so big that we have a bad crash coming,” he says.  As far as the fame goes, Todd says while he can see people treating his kids differently at school, everything has remained the same. 
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