'Gold Rush' star Rick Ness on the "American dream" of digging for gold

Discovery's hit reality show Gold Rush just returned for its 14th season, and for one of its stars, Rick Ness, the stakes couldn't be higher.

"For me, this is a rebuilding year. You know, I stepped back and I took a year off. And that's a tough thing to come back from. So financially, it hurt," he tells ABC Audio on location from his dig site in the Yukon territories.

"I basically start over with nothing," he continues, teasing this season. "We're going for a thousand ounces with a very, very small team. It's a very real rebuilding journey this year, that's for damn sure."

ABC Audio also asked Rick about a recent ABC News story on regular folks who, fed up with the economy, are looking to get rich quick by panning for gold.

"There's a saying up here that the best way to make a million in gold mining is to start with 2 million," he says with a laugh.

He admits the search for the shiny stuff is as American as apple pie. "[I]f you've got the b****, if you've got the heart . . . There's gold in the ground and like, you can dig it up, it's yours! You know, on the surface, I mean, that would, to me, be the definition of the American dream," he says.

However, he adds, "I mean, it could also be the American nightmare . . . You know, I've seen a lot of people come up here . . . with a lot deeper pockets than me. And it does not take them long to go home very broken people..."

Gold Rush airs Friday nights at 8 p.m. ET Discovery; the season 14 premiere is now streaming on Discovery+.

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