Teen Reality TV Finalist Scouted Mosque Location
Francisco Patino probably had no idea what he would spark
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2010 3:30 PM CDT
Map shows location of proposed mosque located two blocks from ground zero.   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – The mastermind behind the “Ground Zero mosque” location: A 19-year-old former reality show finalist from Colombia. Francisco Patino, who came to the US at 12, scored a spot on American Inventor in 2006 by developing a dual-passenger bicycle. The show happened to be playing at a Sharper Image one day, where “I saw him on TV and I like him,” developer Sharif el-Gamal tells the New York Daily News.

Gamal hired Patino to find suitable properties in the Financial District for an Islamic community center. One property on his list turned out to be the now-infamous old Burlington Coat Factory on Park Place. “It was just meant to be,” Gamal says. Patino, now 23, has a brother who has served two tours in Iraq, Michael Daly notes in the Daily News, adding that Patino can’t be blamed: “Nobody who walked down Park Place in 2006 could feel the area was being treated as sacred ground.”