American Picker and LeClaire businessman Mike Wolfe is showing up this week on Lottery tickets across Iowa.
The creator of the popular History Channel TV show, "American Pickers" and owner of Antique Archaeology in LeClaire and Nashville is in a partnership with the Iowa Lottery, and his picture is to begin appearing on $5 scratch-off tickets at 2,400 Iowa retailers.
The Lottery promotion is another way for Wolfe to continue to contribute, he said, to his community and state.
He moved to Iowa from Joliet, Ill., when he was in the third grade, he said, and threw himself into the LeClaire community as an adult, serving on the city council, tourism board — even the fire department.
"I always believed in being part of the community, not just living in it," he said.
In the five years since "American Pickers" first aired, he said, he has been surprised by the number of fans around the world who got their first introduction to Iowa from his TV show, adding that many emails have contained the message, "I had no idea Iowa was so beautiful."
"One thing I didn't think of was the impact it (the show) would have on Iowa," he said.
He said the LeClaire community and the state of Iowa have been on the same "rocket" ride as he and longtime picking partner Frank Fritz have enjoyed as a result of the program's popularity.
Asked why Fritz did not join him on the Lottery promotion, Wolfe replied, "Actually, I do a lot of things outside the show without Frank, believe it or not."
He said the pair spends about seven months of the year "living together on the road," adding Fritz also has solo projects outside of "American Pickers."
LeClaire City Administrator Ed Choate said the riverfront town has benefited greatly from the show, mostly through tourists who come from around the country to visit Antique Archaeology, staying in area hotels and eating at local restaurants.
"He's absolutely been positive for the city," he said, adding it is "too hard to quantify" the precise economic impact.
An Antique Archaeology employee said the store sees as many as 1,000 visitors a day in good weather, even more when big events, such as Tug Fest, are in town.
Wolfe's popularity and recognition are so high in Iowa, Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said, she wonders how long the promotional photos of the picker will stay in locations that sell tickets.
She gave Wolfe the first "Picker" ticket produced, telling the crowd at the Lottery launch, "He was worried he couldn't play, couldn't win."