Mike Rowe had zero television experience when, in 1990, he auditioned for a gig on the QVC home shopping channel. As Rowe wrote in a Facebook post, he “had no qualifications to speak of” when he auditioned, which consisted of demonstrating he could talk “for eight minutes without stuttering, blathering, passing out, or throwing up.”
The subject of that eight-minute sales pitch was a pencil. “Sell it. Make me want it,” Rowe recalled being told, with the promise of a job with QVC if he could pull it off. So, for eight full minutes, he discussed everything from the pencil’s durability to its impact on Western civilization — and landed the job.
Keeping it, however, was another matter entirely. “I wasn’t very good,” Rowe admitted in an interview with “Access,” revealing he’d been fired by QVC three times. One of those times, Rowe told the San Francisco Chronicle, was for “inappropriate contact with a nun doll,” while another firing came when he regaled viewers with an anecdote about learning Santa wasn’t real. During a break, a producer told him they’d been deluged with calls from viewers — not wanting to buy something, but to demand his resignation.