TV ad pitch-man Anthony Sullivan supports The Lens design for St. Petersburg Pier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - "Are we over budget?" asks the man looking at the TV screen in the small studio where a commercial is being produced.

Anthony Sullivan may not be as recognizable behind the camera as he is in front of it.

Sullivan is the well known pitch-man who sells a host of items on TV.  He's now thrown his support behind The Lens design as a replacement to the aging St. Petersburg Pier.

"Last Saturday I was driving past the St. Petersburg Market and I saw a bunch of people in red t-shirts yelling, holding 'stop the lens' signs. And I think people are potentially signing a petition without really making an informed decision. So something went off in me and I thought, I have to get involved," Sullivan recalled.  

Sullivan, who lives in St. Pete, says he's not getting paid for this gig - he simply thinks people should become involved and informed on the future of the pier.

"So get out there and have a conversation and take a look at the new St. Pete pier.  This is Anthony Sullivan giving the new St. Pete pier, The Lens, two thumbs up," he said while gesturing his signature move.

So is the group that opposes The Lens design worried about the celebrity pitchman's power to influence?

"No we're not.  We think that actually him challenging us and challenging our position will probably just bring more people to focus on it.  That's part of what the American Way is," said Fred Whaley with 'Stop The Lens.'

Stop the Lens hopes to gather the 16,000 signatures necessary to place the issue before voters in St. Petersburg.  Still, Sullivan remains convinced the current pier isn't the long-term solution.

"I think the new pier is going to be much better than what we have now.  So that's just my opinion and I just want people to start that conversation," he explained.

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