Interview: Scott Lomu and George Wright of “Jungle Gold”

After averaging 2.65 million viewers a week during its first season on Discovery Channel last fall, Jungle Gold is back, having started Season 2 on Aug. 11 (now airing on Sundays). The series chronicles the continuing efforts of former real-estate dealers George Wright and Scott Lomu as they mine for gold in Ghana in an attempt to pay off the over $1 million debt they face in the wake of the real-estate crash.

This season, Scott and George have family money on the line — in the form of an investment from Scott’s father-in-law — and a new colleague, Dave Thomas, as they had back to Ghana looking for enough gold to pay off the debts and secure their families’ futures.

I talked with Scott and George by phone recently about Jungle Gold, a few days after the Season 2 premiere.

What was the viewer reaction following the season premiere of Jungle Gold?

Scott Lomu: Because we’ve moved from Friday to Sunday it seems like our audience has gotten a lot younger. There were more tweets during our reruns that Sunday [during a Season 1 marathon] than we got all of last year. I think our audience got younger and that could be because we were advertised heavily during Shark Week. And we’re kind of a fast-paced, explosive show, and I do think we attract a little bit younger audience. The Friday audience is a different audience.

What sort of feedback do you get from viewers about the show?

George Wright: There’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there that get in touch with us. There’s a lot of feedback we get where people are just really inspired by the idea that we have a goal and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to obtain that goal. One of the things that people always ask Scott and I, even before the show came — because we were traveling back and forth to Africa for two years before the show with Discovery Channel even got a green light or was even an idea in either of our minds — people would always say, “What do you do for work?” We’d say, “Gold mining.” They’d say, “What? No way.” We say, “Yeah, we travel back and forth between here and West Africa.” And then they always said the same thing — which I felt there needed to be some deciphering after they’d say it — they’d always say, “I wish I could do that.” And I said, “Well, I don’t think you understand what you’re saying. We work really hard and it’s really dangerous at times.” This was never a get-rich-quick scheme. We knew this was going to be a 5-to-10-year job on our part. What we finally realized after discussing it was people weren’t saying they wanted to literally go to Ghana to do gold mining but rather they wished they could do whatever it is their dream was, whatever it is they hoped to be able to do — be it open up a restaurant, or open up their own salon or become a writer. Whatever it is, that’s what we realized they were saying — “I wish I could do that.” Meaning that dream. I feel that resonates with people on a pretty personal level.

Can you talk about your new colleague Dave Thomas?

George: We met him towards the end of our last little stint out there. He’s a gentleman who’s a land broker. We met him last year. He had some access to some land that Scott and I were needing, if we can come up with the money, so we had to come back home and figure out how were were going to do that. Once we did, we got back in touch with him and he had land available still, and from there it was just kind of the beginning of — I’m not going to say a beautiful relationship, because I’m not a huge fan of Dave. I like him every once in a while (laughs) it’s just really hard to trust him. We’ve always felt like maybe we need to have the production company subtitle him with “truth.” Bottom line, he’s surprised us in a lot of good ways, and he’s surprised us in a lot of bad ways, as you’ll see in the season to come.

What are some of the more hair-raising encounters we’ll see you experience in Season 2?

Scott: Things have been getting pretty tense in Ghana because our show has shed a lot of light on a lot of illegal mining activity happening in Ghana. And George and I think as a direct result of the show there are a lot of government and military raids on illegal mining camps, and there are a lot of robberies happening. What happens when a government shuts down an illegal camp is it basically displaces 80-100 local young men who no longer have a job. So they turn to other means. Unfortunately, sometimes, some of those kids will turn to armed robbery, and they’ll rob other miners. The entire landscape of the mining industry over the last year has changed dramatically, and so we encountered a lot this season. We encountered a lot of stuff that’s never been shown on TV. … There’s a lot of hostility we ran into this year; quite a few from locals, from other miners, and, unfortunately, from higher authorities, and we’ll just leave it at that.

You’re doing this all for your families. What do they think of this?

George: I think this all would have ended a long time ago had our wives and our children, and even extended family and close friends, not been so supportive. It mostly comes down to the bravest of us all — which is our wives — they support us 100 percent. I think it would shock a lot of people to hear how encouraging they are, and how supportive they are. Of course they’re concerned for us, of course they worry about our safety. But they trust us enough to know that there are certain lines that we won’t cross and that we have, believe it or not, enough common sense to stay alive. And it’s worked up to this point. That support’s been really the lifeblood in this entire operation.

How is the gold market lately? Is it worth all the effort and danger you’re going through?

George: When we first originally went to Africa gold was actually lower than it is today, even though it’s taken a hit over this last year. It’s still higher than when we originally went to West Africa to find it. We fell comfortable. Even way back then we kind of had a number saying, “Okay, what happens if it goes this low, are we still good?” It’s still a viable business, and we believe it still will be for many years to come. Obviously, we’d appreciate it if the gold prices were higher, always; however, we’re still feeling very good about the price of gold today.

What is behind the allure of gold mining?

George: There’s something to be said about “gold fever” — about realizing that I dig a hole, I find gold. There’s something to be said about that allure. I feel like it’s actually underappreciated and underdemonstrated in any medium. If you take any human being out to a site where there’s gold, and give him a shovel and they find gold there, they’ll say, “Give me more shovels, give me more people!” Because it’s really quite addictive once you catch it. And I think that’s evidenced as anything by the things that Scott and I have been doing. We’re more committed now than we ever have been. So, gold fever — it’s addictive.

Season 2 of Jungle Gold airs Sundays at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel.

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Scott Lomu, George Wright and Dave Thomas of Jungle Gold: Credit Discovery Channel

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9 Responses to Interview: Scott Lomu and George Wright of “Jungle Gold”

  1. The money was given to Dave so they could mine that land,I even think it a bit suspicious that he walked away Scott free and no-one says anything

  2. Really enjoyed watching but what about the money they gave to Dave Thomas are they not wanting it back,after all it wasn’t their money it was the father in laws

  3. Lynn says:

    I must agree sadly that this show is a total farce – either that or we are looking at two of the most stupid people on earth (with really bad acting skills).

    This, like so many other pathetic reality shows should go away forever.

    LOSERS

  4. mr says:

    This show is 90% scripted, the laws they portray in the show are complete non-sense. There is no law against foreigners mining in Ghana, anyone can mine in Ghana granted they use a licensed agent.
    Ref: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1124.html
    Second Point, the amount of catastrophic failures the show incures is absurd, there are moments in the show a viewer can easily spot a setup.
    The dialogue is that of a B-rated actor and not free flowing as a “Real” conversation would be.
    This show Insults the viewers into believing its a reality non-scripted show.

  5. Shelly says:

    The kids autism is just another excuse for the idiot to stop working and run home. He didnt even sound convinced himself when he said to the blonde Neanderthal that he was going back to Utah….for what? Life saving hugs or to provide tissues for his whiny wife? For a split second, in between the man hug you could see blonde dude thinking WTF!
    Is this show supposed to be a comedy? Because it really is a joke how naïve and unprepared these douche bags really are. They whine at how poor they are, yet no wife works (the husbands hardly do either) they live in big mansions, drive fancy cars? Maybe Utah poor is different to my poor.
    I hate Todd fat arse lazy Hoffman because he’s a total tool, I can’t hate these guys, I just scratch my head at their stupidity and hope Discovery will stop insulting our intelligence and cancel this ridiculous show.

  6. Shelly says:

    Couldn’t agree with Dru Kelly more. How is the discovery of Autism an emergency? That drippy wife should stop whining and deal with it while her husband a finally does a days work. I’d understand if the kid was in a coma or on life support but for the love of god, he wil still be autistic when daddy does a few weeks work and hopefully finds some gold. But the. There’s more chance if drippy wife getting off her ass and getting a part time job

  7. Go mart says:

    Dru kelly why so bitter? Can you tell us your secret at being perfect such as yourself

  8. dru kelly says:

    Why anyone would give these clowns a penny of investment capital after all the stupid mistakes these guys have made for two years is beyond me. They abandon $20-60 thousand dollar machines, ( 2 excavators, and a wash plant) in the jungle while they fly back and forth to Utah for two years to whine and complain about how bad there lives are and to beg more money from really stupid investors. These two are typical failed realtors who have entitlement issues just like the rest of the yuppies of their generation. Never had a real job or a real education, never think ahead or do research about anything. The show is such a fake with the pretend dangers all around them meanwhile the camera-production crew is right beside them every second with security and back-up, oooh I’m so scared! The only money these guys will ever have is the money they get from the producer who pays them at least $20-30,000 per episode. Just goes to show how really gullible Hollywood thinks the viewing public is. It is really pathetic. The most recent episode where Scottie had to fly home immediately because his boy was diagnosed with autism was just another laughable fake emergency. There is no such thing as an emergency with a diagnosis of autism. I can hardly wait to see what drama they come up with next. Maybe little Scottie will have a headache or a hang nail as his next excuse for constant failure. Get a job, get a life, get real. You were a bad realtor, a dreamer, no clue about mining, engineering, equipment operation, management, or investment. I guess this is what your generation who grew up in a fancy world is all about. You would make a good politician though, you could go cry with Speaker of the House John Boehner about how tough it is to support your trophy wife. So, so sad.

    • aggy says:

      these comments make me laugh, if show is that bad stop watching it. I personaly found it entertaining and interesting. Why moan about something just find something else to watch. There are plenty of other channels. Whose the stupid ones ?

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