Storage Wars is one of the most interesting shows on television. There is constant drama, surprise, and excitement and it never gets old. I will always find it fascinating to see what people leave behind in old storage lockers. If that makes me weird, then so be it!
But even though I've seen almost every single episode of the show, there are still some things I was surprised to find out about Storage Wars, and I bet you will be too!
Dave Hester, who is arguably the most annoying cast member on the show, tried to trademark his signature phrase of yelling "yuuuup!" whenever he was bidding. He ended up getting in a legal dispute with musician Trey Songz, who also uses that phrase.
Both of them wanted to sell merchandise with that phrase on it, but the Storage Wars star wanted to be the only one who could do it. Hester even went so far as to try and block Songz from "interfering" with his use of the phrase.
Hester claimed that Songz's version "resembles an animal-like or non-human squeal which begins with a distinct 'yeeee' sound before finishing with a squeal-like 'uuuup' sound," which is "distinct and different from Hester's more monosyllabic sounding guttural auction bidding phrase…which is meant to convey the meaning of 'yes.'"
Hester and Songz ended up settling outside of court, but not after a ton of public mockery for trying to trademark a common word.
2. Pay me!
Darrell Sheets, who often provides comedic relief for the show, threatened to leave in 2015 after producers were going to cut his salary in half, and only include him in four out of 26 episodes in the newest season.
Clearly, Sheets was given some reason to stay, but there's no word on what that pay check looked like. Brandon Sheets, Darrell's son, did end up leaving though, and claimed A&E told him it was due to "budgetary constraints."
3. Ahoy, Matey!
One lucky bidder made off with about $500,000 worth of pirate's treasure that had been left in an old locker. The treasure chest was "at least 200 years old" and contained Spanish gold "dating anywhere between the 16th and 19th century."
What's even better is that the bidder only paid about $1,000 for the locker. Talk about a hefty profit!
4. Barry's Business
We know Barry Weiss has a lot of money, but where did it come from? The eccentric bidder started out selling wholesale fruits and vegetables to restaurants, hotels, and cruise ships.
Weiss didn't start collecting antiques until later in life, and ended up leaving Storage Wars in 2013. It was all just a hobby for him, which made people a little frustrated on set.
"I've always been collecting antiques on the side," he said in an interview. "So that helped fund my passion for collecting weird stuff."
5. Love Lessons
Dan and Laura Dotson met in 1996 while he was running on auction. According to Laura, it was love at first sight.
“I found the right man because I am very high-energy," Laura said. "When I saw him auctioneering all over the place, I thought, ‘I’m going to marry that man!’ That was it! We just looked at each other, said ‘Let’s get married, I’ll snatch you up,’ and the rest is history."
"Four months later, I was pregnant – the whole doggone thing! We work well together. He’s taught me how to auction and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened in my life,” she added.
6. Money, Money, Money!
In addition to what they make on their respective lockers, the Storage Wars cast also get paid a pretty substantial amount from the network.
After a lawsuit filed by Dave Hester, which we'll get to later, some of the salaries of the cast were revealed to the public.
Hester himself was pulling in $25,000 and was guaranteed 26 episodes per season. He also received a $2,500 travel allowance, a $124,000 expense account, and a $25,000 signing bonus. It all came to $829,500 just on salary alone.
Darrell Sheets, who had previously threatened to walk away after getting his pay cut, probably saw what Hester was making and got jealous. Sheets originally made $30,000 per episode without all the fancy bonuses, but in March of 2015 the network cut that down to $15,000. Not only that, they slashed the number of episodes he'd appear in from 26 to four. Imagine going from $780,000 per season to $60,000. Not great.
7. Brandi's Boobs
Okay this sounds weird, but in Dave Hester's lawsuit, he also claimed that production paid for Brandi Passante to have a boob job in order to "up the sex appeal" of the show. There's really no way to prove whether or not this is true, but you'd think that Hester would have had some relatively solid evidence before tossing it into a lawsuit.
Passante became so popular among Storage Wars fans, that she ended up being the target of a "revenge porn" site. In 2010, a man named Hunter Moore "distributed a pornographic video falsely claiming to feature her over the internet," as well as "published bogus pornographic pictures of her."
Passante sued Moore for over $2.5 million in damages. The judge didn't really agree with her money demands, but did award the TV star $750, as well as ordered Moore to remove the content.
8. Hester's Lawsuit
Yes, we are finally here. In 2012, Dave Hester filed a lawsuit against Storage Wars claiming that the popular reality show was staged and rigged. The suit alleged that producers would stock, or "salt," certain locker before they were auctioned off, and that "weaker" cast members would have their bids financed by production.
The suit also claimed that cast members were told which lockers to bid on. Hester finally had enough and confronted producers about their interference with the process, and he ended up getting fired.
Hester claimed that the show was acting illegally in accordance to the Communications Act of 1934, which "prevents broadcasters from rigging a contest involving intellectual skills to deceive the viewing public." He believed he shouldn't have been fired for objecting to these actions, and that he was owed the remained of his salary for that season.
Hester lost his initial lawsuit and was forced to pay the network's legal fees, but he did win his wrongful termination lawsuit against the network. It's unclear how much Hester received from the network, as the suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
9. Network Shenanigans
After Hester's lawsuit, most people expected A&E to come out and say his claims about the show being rigged were totally false, but they pretty much did the opposite.
In a motion to strike the lawsuit, A&E stated that the show "has captured the public's interest by combining elements of competition and business strategy with the mystery of discovering what surprises may be found in an abandoned storage unit."
They also stated that while Hester was trying to be a "crusading whistleblower," he was in fact the opposite.
"Among other things, Plaintiff says that he participated in the very conduct he simultaneously claims was 'fraudulent' and 'illegal,' namely, the purported 'salting' of storage lockers with valuable items and the 'scripting' of some portions of the reality television program."
Show creator Thom Beers also said that the show scripts approximately 50% of what the cast says, and will often bring pieces from several lockers into one, just to make things more interesting.
10. "Salted" Items
So now that we know producers do add extra items to lockers to make them more interesting, what happens with them once they've been "discovered?" They go right back to the prop room, apparently.
In Hester's lawsuit, which has already given us so much juicy information, part of his complaint was that cast members had to return the valuable items producers "salted" into the locker. Normally they could sell the items for profit, but since these ones came at the cost of production, they had to go right back.