By Kimberly De La Cruz
LAS VEGAS — By the time Travis Benton saw the picture of his Seahawks memorabilia on Facebook, the collection at the Las Vegas Gold and Silver Pawn had already gone viral.
Since 2012, Seattle fans from all over the United States have spotted the Seahawks hat and 12th Man flag in the background during several episodes of the History Channel’s hit TV show “Pawn Stars,” which is filmed in Benton’s downtown Las Vegas store.
Many have taken photos with their smart phones and posted them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The photos have been accompanied by the hashtag #pawnstars and #12thman or #seahawks. Most of them are images of the show with Rick Harrison, the shop’s owner, in the foreground.
About a year ago Benton, the store’s general manager, recognized his stuff in the shots and started following the discussion. Days before the Super Bowl, he stepped out from the social media shadows.
A screen shot of Benton’s Hawks cap with Harrison in the foreground was posted on the Official Volume 12 Site Facebook page, one of several devoted to the 12th Man legend of the team with the caption, “Good morning 12s! It’s #BlueFriday and the Pawn Stars are representing the hawks! How are you 12ing today?”
Benton replied, “It’s my hawk shrine. Every piece was given to me by a fan after I put the hard hat up on the shelf!! Go Hawks!!!”
He added a better photo of the collection to the page, one from a couple of feet away instead of through a TV screen.
Benton, who’s from Kennewick, has been a die-hard Seahawks fan since birth. He moved to Las Vegas in 1996 and brought his collection to his new home. The shop collection began with a single hardhat with a logo that he brought from home. It sits on a shelf behind a desk that Harrison and other key members of the cast sit at during the reality TV show, which debuted in 2009.
Fans noticed and started sending Benton more stuff, which he added to the shelf. That led to other fans noticed and started posting.
Benton’s passion for the Seahawks has spread within the shop. Judging from the jerseys and caps worn into his shop, there are more fans of the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos than Seahawks in Las Vegas, Benton said. But he has had an influence.
When co-star Austin “Chumlee” Russell placed his bet on the Super Bowl, it was on Seattle to win.
Benton said he enjoys backing World Champions, but he says he never minded the losing seasons either. He’s a Seattle fan whether they are winning or not.
And since Feb. 2, Benton has noticed about three times as many customers in his shop wearing Seahawks jerseys and caps — memorabilia that may someday find its way into the shop.
Interestingly, Benton has yet to attend a single Seahawks game. His cousins have season tickets but he hasn’t been able to find time in his busy schedule to get to Seattle for a game. But Benton said he hopes to visit CenturyLink Field soon and witness the roar of the 12th Man for himself.
But he has had famous Seahawks visitors in Las Vegas. In February, right after the Hawks’ big win, Ken Behring, former owner of the Seattle Seahawks, came into Gold and Silver Pawn as a fan of the show and took notice of the Hawks shrine on display. Behring got a tour of the shop and met Benton, Harrison, Russell, Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison and Richard “Old Man” Harrison. Behring gave each of them autographed copies of his book, “The Road to Leadership.”
The books aren’t for sale, Benton said.\
Kimberly De La Cruz is originally from Bremerton and now lives in Las Vegas, where she is a journalism major at UNLV. She is a fan of “Pawn Stars” and wrote this story after being intrigued by all the Seahawks memorabilia on the show.
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