‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Told Story of One Seller That Refused to Put His Pants On for Show

by Josh Lanier

When you’re traveling the backroads of America and stopping at homes with a lot of junk in the yard, there’s a good chance you’ll meet some interesting people. Fans of American Pickers have fallen in love with some of them. Hobo Jack, “The Mole Man,” and William Shatner come to mind. But these men and women who’ve bucked traditional society to live by their own rules, oftentimes aren’t going to change just because there are cameras around.

That was the case during the early days of American Pickers especially, when Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz were nascent celebrities. Wolfe recalled one of those weirder moments during a 2013 interview.

This happened after Wolfe and Fritz had already picked a house. Producers of American Pickers returned to the home of two former carnival workers to film a promo. One of the men, Wolfe said, showed up on the doorstep nude from the waist down. Full-on Donald Ducking it in front of strangers. After a few awkward moments one of the producers asked, “do you want to put on some pants,” Wolfe told the laughing crowd.

“No,” the man said.

Eventually, American Pickers producers were able to bribe him with $50 to put on some pants. So, keep that in your back pocket (if you are wearing any) for the next time you walk into a negotiation.

This isn’t the only time a half-naked man has answered the door. During a freestyle pick, where Mike and Frank stop by a home unannounced, a man was asleep on the couch when the pickers knocked on his door, Wolfe recalled in 2014. He answered in his underwear. And to make this even more awkward, he was a fan of the show.

“Is that you, Frank?” he asked, still half asleep.

Friends told Wolfe to Make ‘American Pickers’ After Hearing Stories

Long before American Pickers was on television, Mike would return home to Iowa after weeks on the road. He’d regale his friends with stories of the weird people he’d meet and the interesting things he’d pull out of attics and barns. They didn’t believe him.

“It was a long journey,” Mike Wolfe said in 2016. “I remember having the idea for the show. And a friend of mine said, she goes – and I was coming back all the time from the East Coast, and all over the country, with stuff – and she goes, ‘Where are you getting this stuff at?’ I said, ‘Well, I bought it here,’ and I told her the story of the guy. And she’s like, ‘You need to just buy a camera and start documenting some of this stuff.’”

So he did and edited videos on his website. Though, it was awkward at first. He was alone or sometimes with Frank for hours on end. What was he going to say to the camera? He eventually figured it out with the help of a director and producers.

Though, he had a lot of practice before then. Mike worked on the idea of American Pickers for five years before anyone bought it.