What happened to Ken Kerr from ‘Bering Sea Gold’?

April 18, 2024
8 mins read

Ever since the dawn of ages, people have had a particular obsession for gold. Whether its value or its shiny appearance, gold has always been a coveted and precious metal that drove people to turn the world upside down looking for it.

A combination of the elements of an “Indiana Jones” treasure hunt, suspense, and a promise of tapping into undiscovered riches, that is precisely what the series “Bering Sea Gold” brings to the table.

Set in Nome, Alaska, “Bering Sea Gold” is a reality series that follows a group of miners dredging Alaska’s Bering Sea for gold. Coming from the creators of “Deadliest Catch,” it first premiered in January 2012 on Discovery Channel and has run for 14 seasons. The series was initially divided into a summer dredging season entitled “Bering Sea Gold”, and a spring dredging season entitled “Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice”, however, the latter show’s title was changed to “Bering Sea Gold,” identical to the original show’s title.


Who is the cast of “Bering Sea Gold”?

Every season of the show revolves around a different group of gold miners. The show has a huge cast – over the years it’s included Shawn Pomrenke, Steve Pomrenke, Emily Riedel, Vernon Adkison, Chase Taylor, Zeke Tenhoff, Brad Kelly, Ian Foster, Kris Kelly, Scott Foster, George Young, Scott Meisterheim, Dave Young, Steve Riedel, Andy Kelly, Bob Hafner, Ken Kerr, Yvonne Adkison, Elaine Adkison, Gary Panos Jr., Joel Pellegrino, and Chris Thorton.

Who is Ken Kerr?

Hailing from New Mexico, Ken Kerr is one of the cast members who joined the show in the 10th season, which premiered in 2019. The proud owner of the 600-ton dredging machine Myrtle Irene quickly rose through the ranks, emerging as one of the most skilled miners and for a good reason. Since appearing on the show, he’s proven to be a heavy miner, going after the biggest and the most formidable challenges every season.


Talking to the media, Ken disclosed that he inherited his passion for gold and gold mining from his father, who mined for the desirable metal in New Mexico.

Besides being the captain of the monstrous dredger Myrtle Irene, Ken is the co-owner of Artic Sea and Arctic Gold Mining Companies, on both sea and land. In 2016, Ken and his partner Dave Young took over nearly 9,000 acres of mining leases and over 350 patented mining claims, initially called Nome Gold Alaska, but later changed to Arctic Gold Mining LLC. Ken also appeared in the  2020 show with a similar format entitled “Gold Rush: The Dirt”.

Shawn Pomrenke operating “Myrtle Irene”

When the 13th season of the show premiered in April 2021, the fans were shocked to see that the show didn’t feature their favorite miner Ken Kerr, causing a commotion on social media, especially Twitter. However, it did feature his expensive mining vessel Myrtle Irene, now operated by Ken’s long-time foe Shawn Pomrenke, another cast member, which came as a huge shock.

Wondering how that happened, fans took to Twitter to discuss why Shawn was captaining Ken’s ship.

Myrtle Irene is worth at least $5 million, making it the most expensive vessel on the show, and naturally it’s not something you would hand over to someone who is not on good terms with you. Since appearing on the show, Ken shared the spotlight with Shawn, the only miner to match his operations.

Whether you like or hate Ken for his greedy and self-centered nature, the fact remains that he has made the show more entertaining, adding a dose of vigorous competitiveness.

Was Ken Kerr fired from the show?

The question of why Ken did not return to the series does not have a definitive answer, and has spawned several theories about it. However, even though Ken didn’t star regular in the show, he made a brief appearance in the episode entitled “A Dredge Full of Dollars.”

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In the episode, Shaw convinces Ken’s partner Dave Young to join him on his future journeys. In addition, Ken says that he opted for beach mining, and leaves on good terms with Dave. Weird right?

However, not everyone was convinced with this story, and some viewers thought there must be more to it. Additionally, it only added to the confusion that the producers didn’t make an official statement regarding his status, but instead placed an odd and seemingly scripted cameo of Ken.

What is the real reason of Ken’s exit from the show?

Some theories suggest that it might have had something to do with Ken’s lawsuit. In October 2018, two Nome high schoolers sued Ken’s company, Arctic Gold Mining, after he and his team failed to put up a warning sign and inform them of a long cable placed in the middle of the road.

The two girls in the company of a third friend drove a pick-up truck and crashed against the cable, as a result of which the car was nearly totaled, while the teenagers suffered severe injuries.


Initially, the two sisters filed the lawsuit, and were later joined by their third friend seeking over $100,000 on top of other expenses. Their attorney, Myron Angstman, talked about the amount they asked for, saying: ‘One is the cost of out-of-pocket expense that have been generated by the accident, in this case that’s primarily medical. One of the second factors then is any future medical or counseling expense that may be involved, and we have not yet determined what that might consist of.’

What the conclusion of this court case was remains a mystery, but it’s believed that Kerr incurred a lot of financial losses from this legal battle. However, given that this happened in 2018, it’s hard to believe that he was written out of the show after three years of his legal troubles, but the money issues might have had a part in it considering that dredging calls for many investments.

Other Theories

Another theory posited was that fans were tired of his reckless management of Myrtle Irene, as he constantly added more costs and placed his expensive boat and scores of dredges through so much.

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The fans felt that Shaw was better fitted to operate the vessel and use its resources. However, this theory has several holes; if true, it’s doubtful that Ken would conform to such an agreement co-operatively, but considering the lack of information, we have to keep guessing.

Will Ken return the show?

Given how things were concluded with the 13th season, it is hard to establish whether Ken will reappear in the show. At the moment, there is no information surrounding his role, and creators and producers are yet to address his status. The 14th season of the show premiered in October 2021, with new cast numbers Shawn Pomrenke, Zeke Tenhoff, Kriss Kelly, Brad Kelly, Vernon Adkinson, and Gary Panos Jr.

Who else is missing from the Show?

When the 14th season aired, viewers noted that another well-known member was missing – Emily Riedel, the captain of the Eroica. She is one of the original members, starring since the first season being the daughter of Steve Riedel, another popular miner.

As one of the few female members in this dangerous business, she quickly became a fan-favorite with a loyal audience. In addition to her gold mining endeavors, Emily is also a YouTuber with nearly 30,000 subscribers. Regarding her absence from the show, she revealed: ‘In January 2021, I came down with Covid-19. It was a pretty mild case at the time, but one thing was weird about it. I had really terrible chest pain. I went to the E.R. and did some tests, and they sent me home.’

However, it took her a long time to recover, and given that ice mining is exceptionally laborious, it posed a huge problem for her. She would constantly feel weak, combined with numbness in her limbs and shortness of breath, so basically, she chose to walk away from it. Emily ended her YouTube video positively, saying: ‘You will see us this summer. I just want to say thank you for being supportive fans, and to Discovery Channel and original production, they have always been very chill about me leaving ice mining.’


Cast Member’s Troubles with the Law

Interestingly, the cast is rife with legal problems or run-ins with the law. For example, Ken Kerr’s nemesis, Shawn Pomrenke, was arrested on several occasions for drinking under the influence (DUI). During one of these unfortunate incidents, Shaw, known as Mr. Gold, was caught without his court-ordered breathalyzer. However, since 2013 he hasn’t been involved in any problem with the law.

Another member who has locked horns with the judicial system is Yvonne Adkinson, the daughter of Verne Adkinson. In 2014, she was arrested on multiple drug charges for possession and distribution of heroin. Troopers with the Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Team from Nome and Anchorage executed a search warrant on a home, and found 10 grams of heroin, scales, packaging material, and nearly $2,000 in cash. She took a plea deal and was sentenced to two years in prison.


Has anyone died on the show?

Even though mining gold seems a fascinating job filled with the glow of a new quest and Herculean task, many forget that it is a hazardous profession, and not everyone is cut out for it.

In 2013, one of the cast members, John Bunce, died at the age of 26. John previously worked with Zeke Tenhoff of the Edge and was reportedly a very dear friend of his. Other members of the vessel were left devastated, as were the fans. Even though he worked in a very hazardous line of business, he didn’t die at the sea or mining gold; he passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. However, the creators tried to boost the show’s popularity by editing an episode in which they disclosed the unfortunate death of John, as if it had happened on the job; obviously, this raised some eyebrows.


On the other hand, death is not uncommon in this profession; other cast members have lost their friends on the sea, while Emily Riedel talked about her near-death experience on “The Larry King Show.” The passionate miner revealed that one time while diving at sea, she had to return to the surface as she ran out of oxygen, but when she surfaced, found herself near a dredge ship, rendering her unable to move. Luckily, she received the needed help.

How much do the “Bering Sea Gold” cast get paid?

As happens with every reality series, the cast’s paychecks fluctuate over the year, and largely depend on the show’s popularity. According to the latest sources, the casts’ pay is between $10,000 to $25,000. The richest cast member on the show is Shawn Pomrenke, with approximately $3 million net worth. Other members aren’t far behind – Brad Kelly, Vernon Adkinson and Ken Kerr share a similar wealth, in the range of $2 million.

Drama on the Show- Was the Reunion Fight Staged?

Talking of reality series, drama and fighting are essential elements, and never fail to sustain viewers or attract new ones.


So it’s not surprising that most of the fights are scripted, but according to reports, what transpired during the Reunion episode was as authentic as it can get.

The Wild Ranger crew got into a physical altercation, after Vern Adkins, the owner of the vessel operated by captain Scott Meisterheim, shared his opinion on Scott’s leadership and management, accusing him of lying, cheating and stealing.

Red-faced and furious, Vern called him ‘a side piece of a dog crap, a gutless piece of sh**’ and said: ‘I hired him to be the captain on my boat, but he maliciously damaged my equipment.’ Obviously, Scott did not take that lightly and threw a drink at Vern’s face, after which a scuffle ensued. Reportedly, police and paramedics were called to the scene – both Vern and Scott sustained minor injuries.

What are the biggest Gold Hauls on “Bering Sea Gold”?

In 2017 Shawn literally struck gold after extracting a colossal bounty – 1,316 ounces of Bering Sea gold worth over $1 million. Other notable hauls include Shawn’s performance in the 13th season in which he collected 117 ounces worth around 225,000, however, he managed to top it by mining over 214 ounces worth a staggering $425,000 during the same season.

Martha Clifford

As an Author at Net Worth Post, I guide a dedicated team in the art of revealing the stories behind the world's most influential personalities. Fueled by a relentless curiosity and a knack for uncovering hidden stories, I immerse myself in the intricacies of our subjects' lives, weaving together accurate data and compelling narratives. My involvement spans the entire editorial process, from the seed of research to the final flourish of publication, ensuring that every article not only educates but also captivates and motivates our audience.

At Net Worth Post, we are committed to providing thorough investigations into the net worth and life achievements of innovators across diverse sectors such as technology, culture, and social entrepreneurship. My method merges meticulous research with eloquent storytelling, designed to bridge the gap between our readers and the remarkable individuals who redefine our tomorrow. Through spotlighting their journeys to success, the hurdles they've surmounted, and their contributions to society, we aim to give our readers a deep and inspiring insight into the luminaries who are paving the way for progress and ingenuity in the modern era.

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