For over a decade, History channel viewers have lived vicariously through the stars of American Pickers as they unearth forgotten treasures of Americana. Co-stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz have used their expertise and negotiating skills to get their hands on everything from antique toys to out-of-commission gas pumps.
But between seasons 8 and 9, Fritz appeared noticeably thinner. The rumor mill churned: was he ill? If so, would he continue to shoot future episodes? Perhaps he just went Hollywood and lost weight for reasons of vanity.
Fritz has gone on the record about his weight loss, and the explanation may surprise you. Get the backstory on his transformation and find out what the co-host is up to these days.
Frank Fritz Is One Of The Stars Of ‘American Pickers’
American Pickers is proof that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The History Channel reality series follow co-stars Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel the country in search of hidden treasures.
Now in its 21st season, it’s clear that the show caters to more than history buffs and antique enthusiasts. Everyday people enjoy watching Wolfe and Fritz masterfully negotiate the purchase and resale of their finds.
Wolfe runs Antique Archeology—antique emporiums in LeClaire, Iowa, and Nashville, Tennessee. Meanwhile, Fritz, 55, is an owner of Frank Fritz Finds, an antique shop hidden within a biker bar in Savanna, Illinois. When he’s not on the road looking for old treasures, he makes public appearances at antique shows to connect with fans. He’s also published the American Pickers Guide to Picking, which offers tips for aspiring pickers.
“I tell people all the time to buy good stuff whenever they can,” said Fritz. “Good stuff is always going to be good, and mediocre stuff will always be mediocre. Even if something mediocre is rare, it’s not always worth it. And now with the Internet, almost everything is less rare than it used to be.”
Watch Fritz in action as he cuts a deal to acquire an old Mobile Oil sign in California:
Frank Fritz Has Struggled With Crohn’s Disease For Over 30 Years
In 2011, the Quad-City Times published a profile of Fritz that detailed his decades-long struggle with Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract. His condition—which is known to cause abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, and constant trips to the bathroom—has made shooting American Pickers a challenge. Fritz mostly eats meals at night, and producers provide a separate recreational vehicle on the road so that he has portable facilities at all times.
“Crohn’s and travel is all about management,” Fritz told the National Enquirer in 2012. “My entire crew knows about [it]. They understand it when I need a break. I mean, if I have to go, I have to GO!”
When viewers noticed that Fritz was looking lean in season 9, they wondered what accounted for the new look. “A lot of you have been wondering about my health and my weight loss,” he wrote in an August 2013 Facebook post. “I have an illness called [Crohn’s disease], which at times is difficult to deal with … “I started losing weight and ran with it! I have been exercising and eating good… Thanks for all of your kind words of concern! I couldn’t do what I do without all of you!”
“It’s a tough hand I’ve got dealt to me in my life, but you can still do stuff out there,” he told the Quad-City Times. “I’m trying to show people that regardless of the adversities … and the social situations, the awkwardness, accidents, that you can live a productive life.”
Frank Was Arrested In 2017 For OWI
On July 30, 2017, Frank Fritz was arrested by Iowa State Police for driving and swerving on the wrong side of the I-80. An official report revealed that his speech was slurred and that he admitted to consuming beer and Xanax. He failed a field sobriety test and was charged with OWI (operating while intoxicated).
Fritz pleaded guilty in March 2018. The final judgment required one year of unsupervised probation, a $625 fine, and completion of a substance evaluation program.
“They made me sound like Public Enemy No. One,” Fritz told the Globe Gazette in November 2018. He also said that he takes Xanax “because I have anxiety. People watch every move I make.”
“I hadn’t had a ticket in 34 years,” he added. “I drive 70,000 to 100,000 miles a year.”
Contrary to his claim, the newspaper found that Fritz had “pleaded guilty to five traffic violations since 2003, including speeding, two seat belt violations, and failing to maintain control.” But Fritz maintains that the latest incident was not as scandalous as reported.
Fritz’s antiques website is offline, and reviews of his shop in Illinois are less than stellar. Perhaps those who tune into this season of American Pickers can pick up on clues as to whether these are all red flags, or if Fritz is just the victim of living under a microscope.