‘American Pickers’ Star Mike Wolfe Reveals Major Life Moment in His Past in New Video

by Caitlin Berard

American Pickers star Mike Wolfe knew that he wanted to be a treasure hunter from a very young age. Before he found a way to make that dream a reality, however, he worked at a meat packing company outside of Chicago.

In a recent Instagram post, Wolfe reminisced on his pre-American Pickers life with his old boss, T&J Meat Packing Co. owner, Tony Alilovich, who’s run the thriving family-owned business with his cousin, John, since 1983.

“T&J Meat Packing Chicago heights,” Mike Wolfe wrote alongside a video of himself chatting with the business owner. “Every summer for 5 years. Tony was my boss. Learned the meaning of hard work from this old man.”

“Started on the kill floor,” the American Pickers added in the caption. “And worked my way up to the counter and eventually deliveries. My boss Tony was the hardest working man I had ever met at that time in my life.”

Though it was hard work, Mike Wolfe said that his time with the meat packing company changed him for the better. Tony agreed, saying that by working for T&J, Mike learned to work hard without a boss telling him to do so, setting him up for success as an entrepreneur.

‘American Pickers’ Star Mike Wolfe Recalls His First Find

When Mike Wolfe says he knew he wanted to be a treasure hunter from an early age, it’s easy to think he means he found fulfillment in flipping antiques as a teenager. In an interview with Stage Right Secrets, however, the American Pickers star revealed that the inspiration came long before high school.

In fact, his very first taste of treasure hunting came when he was barely old enough for kindergarten. “I was four years old and I pulled a bicycle out of the garbage,” Wolfe recalled. “And I sold it to an older kid in the neighborhood for like 5 bucks… I thought I was rolling.”

“It just kinda took off from there,” he continued. “I always felt like I was a little detective on a history hunt, and it never left me.”

Though selling the bike to another child was a major factor in his newfound interest in treasure hunting, the American Pickers star admits it’s one of the few sales he regrets. “I wish I did [still have it],” Wolfe said before adding, “I sold it like two weeks later.”

Far from his $5 sales of the past, Mike Wolfe now routinely drops an eye-popping amount of money on finds of all shapes and sizes, from antique cars and motorcycles to pre-war whiskey jugs.

Some things, however, never change. And though it’s been more than half a century since his first find, the American Pickers host still finds himself irresistibly drawn to the thrill of the hunt.