What Nobody Told You About Mike Wolfe From American Pickers

American Pickers came out on the History Channel in 2010, taking the world of junk reselling by storm, and has run for 21 seasons to date. That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider that show creator Mike Wolfe spent five years frantically trying to sell his lifestyle-based reality show to any network that would buy it. Luckily for all of us, History picked it up. The first season of the show brought in 5.4 million viewers per week, says IMDB, and was the highest-rated show to debut on the History channel in over three years. Basically, it made them a good chunk of change.

The best thing to come from the show wasn't the ratings, or inspiring the general population to search through dumps for potential treasure; it was the personalities. Granted, the haggling comes in at a close second. The stars of American Pickers have lives outside of the show. Wolfe is a pretty interesting guy, both in front of and on the other side of the camera.

Wolfe was a professional bicycle racer

If you've watched American Pickers, you already know Mike Wolfe has a soft spot for things with two wheels, and there's a reason for that. Wolfe used to be a professional bicycle racer, a career that lasted nearly all of the 1990s. Growing up in Iowa, Wolfe had cycling opportunities close to home. Beginning in the early 1980s, he's ridden Ragbrai five times. It's a cross-Iowa bike ride (not race) sponsored by the Des Moines Register newspaper — Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. He also took home an impressive win at the Iowa State Time Trial Championships in 1998, just about the time he retired from professional racing.

Wolfe's love of making bikes go, like, really really fast started at a young age. He tells Bicycling.com about how he used to smoke kids much older than himself anytime he was on two wheels. His passion for bicycles was part of his passion for picking from the start. Wolfe's first pick was an old bicycle he found in an overgrown weed patch at the age of six. Go figure. Later, he'd see old bikes sitting in a dumpster, and he knew he had to have them. Pick it, flip it. In 1987, Wolfe scored a job building 13 bikes a day at Bike n Hike in Davenport, Iowa. Before long, Wolfe owned two bike shops of his own.

He's a devoted father, and almost left the show because of it

Mike Wolfe and his wife, Jodi Faeth, welcomed their daughter, Charlie Faeth Wolfe, into the world in 2013. (Faeth has a son from a previous relationship.) The couple knew that baby Charlie was suffering from a cleft lip and pallet before she was born. The physical abnormality took a year and several surgeries to fix. It would've been a difficult time for any parent, but the couple found inspiration in their daughter's struggle.

At one point in 2016, Wolfe decided it was about time for him to give up the picker life because he wanted to spend more time with his daughter. "One more season and I'm done," he told WQAD in 2016. It would've been a sad moment for his fans, but it was a sweet sentiment from a devoted father. Yet how could he leave American Pickers when, according to Amo Mamma, it was Wolfe's picking that attracted the mother of his daughter in the first place?

This picker is a charitable dude

What's better than seeing a man turn junk into gold? Unless, of course, that man is turning junk into gold for the benefit of less fortunate folk, and Wolfe has a deep charitable streak, inspired, in part, by his daughter, Charlie.

When Wolfe and his wife discovered that baby Charlie was suffering from a cleft lip and palate, the surgeon they found for their daughter introduced them to Operation Smile, a worldwide charity whose purpose is to ensure that all children born with clefts are able to undergo the necessary corrective surgeries — "Operation Smile," because every child deserves to smile. Wolfe was impressed by the organization, so he linked up with Isabel Bloom, an Iowa-based sculpting company, and had statues of Charlie produced. The statues, called "Charlie's Smile," were sold as a fundraiser for Operation Smile.

This American picker raises funds for several different charities. In the past, says his Facebook page, those charities have included everything from St. Jude's Children's Hospital to local animal shelters. Wolfe's a rusty picker with a heart of gold.

He's written two books — yes — both about picking

Legendary junk reseller and TV personality, yes, but also an author. (What can't this guy do?) His first major publication was 2011's American Pickers Guide to Picking, which he co-wrote with Libby Callaway, Frank Fritz, and Danielle Colby. The book gives the ins and outs of making a profit off "rusty gold." The book rode the success of his reality TV show. His second book (and its web initiative), Kid Pickers, covers the same sort of thing, only this time, it's targeted toward getting children interested in the picking life. He has a Spotify channel, Music to Pick By, featuring a variety of artists — "a mix of picking-compatible tunes," says his IMDB page.

Pretty much everything he does these days is about picking and restoration, but Wolfe is far from a "one-trick pony." Just like traditional archaeology requires knowledge on a broad range of subject matters, so does "antique archaeology." How else are you supposed to know what to pay for that century-old Tonka truck?