Had Rico León’s car not bit the dust on a cross-country trip to California, he may have never landed his own HGTV show. The host of freshman series “Rico to the Rescue,” which ends its first season on February 25, 2023, has had a whirlwind six years that he never could have predicted.
As his new show approaches its season finale, León has told multiple media outlets that a twist of fate six years ago — with him stranded in Denver after his car broke down — led to launching his own emergency home restoration business there and, eventually, landing a show as HGTV’s only Hispanic host.
Rico León Says He Got Stranded in Denver While Trying to Switch Careers
León grew up in Pittsburgh, where he got his start in sales working for Roto-Rooter, bidding jobs for emergency restorations caused by fire, flood, mold, and sewage, according to the Denver Post.
But about six years ago, he decided to shift gears, switching from plumbing to Porsches. He began driving cross-country to sell sports cars with a friend in California, but his own car broke down in Denver. He told 9News the car actually “exploded” and couldn’t be repaired.
“I was going to sell Porsches with a good friend of mine, never made it,” he told KDVR.
Stranded in the Mile High City for a while, he leveraged his knowledge in plumbing, excavation, and emergency restoration to land jobs in the area, but wound up falling in love with the city and decided to stay.
“Denver wasn’t even in my radar,” he told EXP Life. “Fate brought me here.”
In 2019, León started his own emergency restoration business, helping distressed homeowners who are dealing with home damage from natural disasters and general contractors trying to cut corners in their repairs.
“I help people in disaster. If your house caught on fire, it’s not a good thing, but I’m the guy who helps you out,” he told the Denver Post.
In each episode of “Rico to the Rescue,” León and his team analyze what’s gone wrong in current construction projects that are causing homeowners a great deal of stress. León then comes up with a renovation plan to “turn the construction nightmare into a dream home,” according to press materials from HGTV.
Rico León is Breaking Ground as HGTV’s Only Latino Host
When “Rico to the Rescue” premiered, León became HGTV’s only Latino host. In October 2022, the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC), a nonprofit backed by some of the most prominent Latinx business leaders in the U.S., told Heavy that the network and its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, has had an “abysmal” track record when it came to hiring Latinos for on- and off-camera roles — despite the fact approximately 20% of Americans are Hispanic and that, according to The Urban Institute, 70% of new homeowners will be Hispanic between 2020 and 2040.
The organization’s 2022 LDC Latinos in Media Report, examined primetime programming across all TV networks during the first eight months of the year. According to the LDC investigation, 37 primetime shows premiered or returned on HGTV between January 1 and August 31, 2022. That added up to 370 new TV episodes airing on the network during that time — more than any other traditional cable network — yet there were zero Latino on-air leads or co-leads and zero Latino showrunners or directors.
León, whose family is Puerto Rican, began working with HGTV on his show in January 2021 and filmed the pilot that October. In an Instagram post on December 2022, León shared a photo of him on a horse and said they’d just finished filming the final episode of the first season, which will air this Saturday.
León told KDVR it’s an honor to represent Latinos on his show.
He said, “People are like, ‘hey, you’re representing us man, make sure you do a good job!’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, don’t worry about it.’ Like, I got this. But it is a proud thing to kind of put on the resume for sure.”
He also told 9News that speaking fluent Spanish is a definite advantage in his work, whether he is communicating with “Spanish-speaking homeowners” or Hispanic construction workers.
At the time of publication, HGTV had not announced yet whether “Rico to the Rescue” will be renewed for a second season.