‘American Pickers’ Star Mike Wolfe Explained Why He Turned His Experiences Into a TV Show

by Courtney Blackann

“American Pickers” star Mike Wolfe tried for a long time to get the show on air. He’s famously collected other peoples’ junk for years and years. He also knew that when he met with those people, there was usually a fun backstory to the items they were selling. This is why Wolfe is explaining how and why those experiences contributed to the show.

In an interview with bicycling.com from 2011, the “American Pickers” personality explained just how valuable his ‘picking’ experiences are – and why he wanted those stories included in the show.

“I was traveling all over the country, coming back with all this great stuff—bikes, motorcycles, Vespas, gas-station signs from the thirties, anything I thought I could make a buck on. And I had these amazing stories from people I met on the road, so I started making home movies, showing them to friends and putting them online,” Wolfe says.

He goes on to add that:

“I knew it would make a great TV show, but I pitched the idea to every network on cable for four years before History Channel picked us up. Our first show aired January 18, 2010.”

“American Pickers” Star Shares How Show is All About People

Since that time, “American Pickers” has reached mainstream success. This is in large part to how Wolfe and producers frame the show’s characters. It’s not the first time the TV star has discussed the fun people he gets to meet everyday. Wolfe spends months on the road traveling to different estates all over middle America.

Whether it’s a rare piece of history or somebody’s upcycled junk, Wolfe finds value everywhere he goes.

He also shared how the people make up the meat and potatoes of “American Pickers.” It’s their stories – and not his fame – that propels the show forward more than a decade later.

“But at the end of the day, it was all about the people I pick from – to give them a voice and to give the item a voice and showing the relationship there, showing an audience these places still exist and that there’s no such thing as a nobody. Even the smallest thing can have value if there’s a story. Teaching people about the process of that is what I wanted to do. As far as being famous and having a chip in the game and getting into the industry, that never crossed my mind, ever,” Wolfe says.

He went on to describe a particularly pleasant interaction he had with a man from Florida.

“A judge I met in Florida has an incredible collection of petrobilia, signs, and gas pumps. A lot of people have beautiful collections that are clean and on display. This guy, his stuff was piled on top of each other,” Mike Wolfe says.