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American Pickers' Darkest Secret Will Change How You View The Show

"Reality TV?" a million crabby Cathy's cry out to an uncaring cosmos. "Nothing 'real' about it." It's a trite nugget, but there's truth at the center of it — for as long as there's been reality programming, there have also been whispers of foul play. What if the ghost hunters on "Ghost Hunters" aren't really hunting ghosts? What if everyone was actually dead at the end of each season of "Survivor," being puppeted by the production team in a macabre multi-layered "Weekend at Bernie's" situation?

And what if the "American Pickers," known almost exclusively for their ability to American pick, weren't American picking at all? It's a revolting thought, but rumors have been making the rounds for ages that Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have been duping viewers with rigged episodes. From the first-hand accounts of participants on the program to investigative reports made by curious news outlets, all signs point to the world of the History Channel's biggest draw being an out-and-out fabrication. Allegedly.

American Pickers might not be as real as you think

For all of the purported good luck that goes into a find on "American Pickers," it sure sounds like the folks featured on the show have a good, long heads up to make sure everything is camera ready.

Take Ken Young of Brady, Texas. An episode of "American Pickers" featuring his collection of toy construction trucks aired in 2018, and Young spoke with local reporters from GoSanAngelo about the experience, first pointing out that his visit from the show was far from impromptu. According to Young, he was given "a three week lead" ahead of the production's arrival. "They have what you call a 'snoop,'" he continued. "They get somebody to go into a site and look around. The man who came in that day, he gave me his card (...) Then I got a phone call and they said when they would be coming."

The article would go on to state that the segment in question took roughly ten hours to shoot, which lines up with other accounts — in an interview that's since been removed from the internet at the request of A&E, a South Carolina auctioneer discussed the filming process, which included multiple takes shot out of sequence. That the interview was removed speaks to the secretive nature of the production, and might help to explain why rumors of planted items and predetermined price points have been spoken of in low whispers, but never full-on shouted. Add to that the open secret that the producers due their fair share of the picking, and it's hard to watch the show with the same sense of wide-eyed wonder.