Who is Michael Teutul?
Born on 26th November 1978, Michael Joseph Teutul is a well-known TV personality with appearances in “Orange County Choppers”, “American Chopper”, and “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior”. The affable reality star shocked fans in 2009, after admitting himself into rehab during a lengthy battle with alcohol addiction.
Michael’s father, Paul Teutel Sr., founded the famous motorcycle manufacturer Orange County Choppers (OCC) in 1999. Of his four children, three of them would go on to work at his company: Paul Teutel Jr. as chief fabricator, Daniel as owner and general manager of Orange County Ironworks LLC, and Michael as assistant general manager.
At just 14 years old, Michael began taking on minor responsibilities for the family business, such as answering the ‘phones and taking the trash out. From time to time, he also helped build choppers, and even built his own bike.
Teutuls on TV
OCC was first featured on the Discovery Channel in September 2002 with the show “American Chopper”. The reality TV series focused on Paul Sr. and Paul Jr.’s busy job as custom chopper motorcycle manufacturers. Based in Newburgh, New York, the show gained notoriety for the verbal spats between the father-and-son team, as well as their wildly differing creative styles. Sadly, in 2008 Paul Jr. quit the show after an explosive fight with his father, and founded Paul Jr. Designs, a competing company.
In December 2007, “American Chopper” was moved to Discovery’s sister channel, TLC, premiering a new season in the following month. Although the sixth season aired in April 2009, TLC dropped the series just ten months later, however, in July 2010 the channel announced that the Teutul clan would return in a spin-off series: “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior”.
The rollout of the new series was fraught with issues, including its sudden switch to Discovery halfway through its first season. Shortly afterwards, Discovery announced that the show would finish on 11th December 2012, thus putting an end to the Teutul’s decade-long TV career – at least, for the time being.
Mere months later, OCC was featured on the CMT network in “Orange County Choppers”. The series ran for one season between August 2013 and January 2014, with nine episodes which included a pilot. The addition of Evan Favaro as the team’s creative director helped bring some life back to the floundering show, but ultimately, four years would pass before the Teutuls made their on-screen comeback.
Despite the general public’s indifferent reaction, fans were thrilled when the first episode of season 11 aired on CMT in March 2018.
Entitled “Welcome Back”, the show reunited Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. a decade after their professional, and sometime personal split. The season finale came in April 2019 after an action-packed eight episodes which saw the father-and-son duo work on an array of projects, many times with incredible results.
Finally, CMT announced “American Chopper: The Last Ride” in July 2020. The two-hour special aired a week later, and showed Paul Sr. and his eldest son come together to build a bike for the first time in over a decade. The union of OCC and Paul Junior Designs was something fans had been waiting years to see, and they weren’t left disappointed: having joined forces to build a chopper for ABC Supply Company, America’s largest siding and roofing company, it was a race against time to finish the ambitious project in just eight weeks.
As was to be expected, Paul and his son clashed more than once during filming due to creative differences.
Nonetheless, fans saw it as a fitting way to end the series, while Paul Jr. was glad for the opportunity to work with his father one last time.
Michael’s role in the family business was partly to provide comic relief in the shows, and represent the company at promotional events. Over the years, he appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman”, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” to discuss the show and drum up publicity.
Despite often being ridiculed by his father and brother, Michael took it all in his stride, with his positive personality giving viewers a break from Paul Sr. and Paul Jr’s constant feuding. The star’s first TV appearance was in 2003 – most of the time he tried his hardest to mediate in the ongoing family disputes.
In the 13th episode of season six, fans were shocked to discover that Michael had been kicked out of the family business.
In what many considered a harsh move, Paul Sr. claimed that Michael had been given plenty of opportunities to advance his career at OCC, and chose not to follow through on them. Following his father’s decision, Michael joined Paul Jr. in his business venture, and didn’t return to the original “American Choppers” series until 2012.
Other appearances include cameos in “Last Call with Carson Daly”, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch”, and even a sit-down interview with none other than Ellen DeGeneres. Eagle-eyed fans would also spot Michael in an old episode of the beloved sitcom “My Name Is Earl”, but for unknown reasons he decided not to pursue an acting career.
In 2011, Michael bit the bullet and began marketing a line of high-quality pasta sauces under FarQueue Products, LLC. However, his business venture failed, and he hasn’t made any other attempts to become an entrepreneur since then.
Addictions & Controversy
Surprisingly, the Teutul clan have been battling against addiction for decades. In his book “The Ride of a Lifetime”, Paul Sr. gave readers a candid insight regarding his 15-year drug and alcohol problem, which came to an end in 1985 when his wife Paula convinced him to check into rehab. Having been a hard partier and drinker since just 15 years old, Paul Sr. was coughing up blood and had a myriad of health problems, which were too serious to overlook.
“I wanted to have one last good drink. So the day before I was set to go into rehab, I drank a half-gallon of wine, a pint of brandy, and I took six Valiums”, Paul Sr. recounts. Sadly, on the day he was meant to check in, he woke up hungover, and decided not to go because he wouldn’t be able to run his business in the meantime, somewhat debatable in itself. However, he compromised and decided to start attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which he attended faithfully for years.
“I was the only guy who had decided to sober up, so there was constant pressure on me to drink”, Paul Sr. adds. Despite feeling constant pressure to drink with the rest of his colleagues, the founder of OCC kept his word and eventually told his workmates that there would be no more drinking in the shop or on the job. Most of his employees walked away, and Paul’s tough decision also spelled the end of his partnership with his right-hand man John Grosso.
Although Paul Sr. was able to kick his addiction into touch, Paul Jr. entered rehab at the young age of 16, while Michael’s publicized drink and drugs problems hindered his career and opportunities for advancement. It’s unknown exactly when he checked out of rehab, but his random disappearances from TV in the past have caused fans to worry, and it’s also speculated that he was kicked off “American Choppers” due to his vices.
Michael himself isn’t married, and there are no signs of a special someone in his life, but the rest of his siblings have gone on to form their own families.
In August 2010, Paul Jr. tied the knot with Rachel Biester, an aspiring fashion designer, and the couple welcomed their son Hudson Seven – who Michael affectionately refers to as his godson – in February 2015.
Daniel, who has been credited with turning Orange County Ironworks into an “empire”, has been married to Tara Teutul for years. The couple share two children, Danny and Gabriella, and often post cute family snaps on social media for the benefit of their fans.
“Danny is totally different than everybody else,” Paul Sr. explained in a 2009 interview with CNBC. “He’s me. He’s an aggressive go-getter, self-efficient, self-reliant person”. For that very same reason, the father and son chose not to work together, but Daniel’s business acumen has been demonstrated time and time again over the years.
In 2004, Daniel turned Orange County Iron into Orange County Ironworks, and just months later founded Gabriel Steel Erectors, Inc., a structural steel erection company.
In 2010, he built a staggering 55,000-square foot steel fabrication shop in Montgomery, N.Y. Some of the company’s New York City projects include the Apple building, the Museum of Modern Art, and the One World Trade Center, and it also boasts work on JFK and LaGuardia airports.
Those who keep up with the Teutuls, were surprised to learn about Daniel’s O.C County Iron Works bankruptcy case, which started in July 2005. According to the Middletown Times Herald-Record, a company trustee alleged that the Teutuls planned a scheme to “hinder, delay, and defraud” the iron company’s creditors.
Reportedly, the assets were moved from O.C Iron Works to Orange County Ironworks LLC in 2004, with the trustee claiming that the new company hadn’t paid “fair compensation”. Creditors were left empty-handed when the Teutuls declared the O.C Iron Works company bankrupt, but in 2008, Daniel was ordered to settle claims with a $500,000 payment.
Cristin, Paul Sr’s only daughter and arguably the most discreet Teutul sibling, has been gainfully employed as a pediatrician for years, and is currently living in New York City. With under 400 Instagram followers and private social media accounts, it’s almost impossible to glean any information regarding her private life, although she’s believed to be married.
As for Paul Sr. and Paula, they divorced in 1995 following 26 years of union. Shortly afterwards, he met Beth Dillon, whom he married in 2007. Sadly, their relationship didn’t work out either, as they filed for divorce just five years later. Although the causes for both divorces are unknown, it’s thought that Paul Sr’s fiery temper played an important factor in both his former wives walking away. For now, the patriarch and businessman isn’t seeing anyone that we know of.
New Business Ventures
In December 2020, mere months after the Teutuls were last seen on TV, the Hudson Valley Post reported that OCC had posted a mysterious video on Facebook, of a map highlighting Florida. Captioned: “OCC – The next chapter… The future never looked so bright! #OCC #PaulSr #NewYork #Florida #2021”, fans were left intrigued and wanting to know more.
Days later, OCC shared a video of construction work in Florida, sharing “the next chapter in the OCC story” with the announcement of an OCC roadhouse, museum and entertainment complex set in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In a Zoom interview, Paul Sr. enumerated the reasons for moving the business to Florida, listing the sense of freedom and larger fan base. “In Florida the riding season is nine months, maybe even ten. In New York, you have a short season… Only three months or so,” he shared.
Politics and taxes also influenced his decision, but overall, the Teutul patriarch simply felt that it was time for a change of scenery.
The motorcycle-themed restaurant and museum have proven to be an enormous success so far, attracting thousands of fans from all over America. With live shows, a sumptuous menu, and plenty to see, supporters are invited to “rev your engines, sip some cold brews and hit the open road at OCC Road House & Museum”.
It’s not clear if the latest business venture is run by all the family, as Paul Jr. has yet to promote the roadhouse, and prefers to focus on his own business. Michael, a sporadic social media user who has been quiet on Instagram since June 2021, has also had little to say regarding his father’s new venture. For now, only time will tell if Paul Sr. and his brood will return to the small screen.