INTERVIEW WITH REPO GAMES HOST JOSH LEWIS
Complex: How did you get into repossession?
Josh Lewis: You know, it's funny. I’ve always thought I would be Mr. Corporate America. I have a masters in business administration. It started as me just kind of kicking it with my buddy; he was doing [repossession] in Michigan. I was a full-time college student with a full-time job. I wasn’t doing nothing that weekend, so he said, "Hey, you want to come along, man? There’s some crazy stuff out here."
It was really cool, man. I started to work with him a lot more, on the weekends, I would take a couple of days off work, or during spring break at school, whatever. I'd work with him full time during the summer.
What is the craziest experience you've had on a repo?
Josh Lewis: My worst and best story took place in Detroit. Cat had a Cadillac parked in the driveway. Scooped it up. It looked like no one was home. It ended up being like 12 to 15 dudes in that house, and they all came running up on us.
It was just me and my partner, Will. We went at it, but we got the car. We stayed alive. We called the cops eventually, but not until we were long gone.
I’ve been threatened a lot; I’ve had guns pulled out on me, had a knife pulled out on me, I’ve been hit with purses.
What’s the most difficult part of the job for you?
Josh Lewis: The worst part is when you see people you repo’d, you see them out and about. You see them in like Red Lobster, you see them at the shopping mall when you're with your kid. That kind of freaks me out a little bit. I don’t like that part much. But, eh, it is what it is, man. It’s the job I’ve chose.
Obviously you have a job to do, but do you ever find yourself feeling bad for these people?
Josh Lewis: Oh, all time, man. You hate to see a grown man cry—it’s disgusting. When you see a grown man, and he’s just behind [on payments], that’s all it is.
I’m a big believer that the majority of people are goodhearted people, but everyone falls on hard times. There’s been so many times that I looked at my partner Will like, “C’mon, man. Can we give this dude a week? You know, come back in a week, see if the bank still wants us to come?”
Definitely a lot of times I felt bad. I got something in my heart for single mothers, working-class families, especially with the economy. I’m coming from Michigan—the economy has been in a slump for years. That’s nothing new.
Josh Lewis: No. And it’s funny, man. Because when you get out there and you’re taking someone’s vehicle and they run out on you, they’re asking for any opportunity to keep their vehicle.
The whole time we’ve done Repo Games, I’ve only had one person say no—they didn’t want to be on TV. The guy just kept saying, over and over, “I’m just a shy person, I’m a quiet person, I don’t want to share anything with the camera.”
The minute people hear about [the opportunity to win their car by playing the game show], they jump on it. In the field, that’s what you’re getting, man. “What can I do to keep it? I gotta keep my car, I can’t be without my car.” Well, answer three out of five trivia questions. And all of a sudden these people go, “That’s it? Are you serious? Is this a joke?” Pretty funny.
How challenging do you find the questions?
Josh Lewis: I’m smart, dude. I’m like brilliant. When I see these questions I’m like “OK, whatever.” I might miss a couple of pop culture ones but a lot of the questions are very...you pick up a USA Today or you want to be aware of the world you live in, you’re going to ace Repo Games.
OK, so what is the largest amount of debt that someone has had on this show?
Josh Lewis: I’m not going to tell you specifics, but I will tell you that it’s more than ten thousand.
What has been the most memorable reaction when someone won their car back?
Josh Lewis: This dude the other day jumped on his car and started humping his windshield. You see that stuff all the time. This one dude took his girlfriend in the back and.... I hate to put out any spoilers for you.
These are real people. You’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry, you’re going to be upset, you’re going to feel a whole range of human emotions, man.