The World Beard and Mustache Championships found its 2015 winner right here in Oregon. The man behind the beard is Portland’s own Madison Rowley. The story behind the beard was best told by Washington Post reporter Jessica Contrera back on 10/28/14:
This is a story about a man, and how he achieved his dream — by doing nothing.
Nothing, people said, was the first step in growing a beard, even a beard worthy of entering the World Beard and Moustache Championships. That’s a thing, the World Beard and Moustache Championships, and it happened to be happening in the man’s hometown, Portland, Ore. The 29-year-old was known for his rapid facial hair growth, and the man had many friends who did much convincing.
And so, with the championship more than a year away, the man began to do nothing.
Nobody seemed to mind the man’s amassing facial hair, being that he is a filmmaker/artist/musician, and those are occupations mostly free of what the bearding community calls “beard-ists.” (Haters of beards, i.e.: the U.S. Army, Brigham Young University and the New York Yankees, the director of the championship says). But as D.C. barbers at the Wise Owl Club put it, “these days, beards are synonymous with trendy.” Facial hair, those stubble-aficionados know, goes in and out of style. In 2014, the beard is mainstream.
So Madison Rowley, 29, didn’t think much of it. Until of course, the beard started to overtake his face, and the mustache grew long enough to wrap around his ears, and then there was much to consider.
The eating of peanut butter: On sandwiches, on apples, it will inevitably end up grazing his mustache, and thus, the smell of peanuts sits under his nose until the next wash.
The antics of friends: “Let’s see how many bottle caps we can hide in your beard!” sounds like a good idea, until he can’t remember how many were in there. They fall out the bottom eventually.
The kissing of ladies: “As soon as the time for the kiss arrives, I always seem to apologize beforehand,” Rowley said in an interview. “That probably isn’t necessary, but I always feel self conscious because I can’t imagine someone wanting to subject themself to this beard.”
Rowley began to recognize that his pursuit would be inconvenient at all times. “I never found myself thinking, ‘Oh, it is awesome that this is keeping my chest dry from the rain,’” he said. But the championships were getting closer, and so he would stay away from razors and would keep doing nothing. Sometimes mustache wax to get it out of the way, but mostly, nothing.
His dad said, “If you win, I’ll grow mine out and enter next year.”
Strangers said, “Can I touch it?” and before the words left their mouths, their hands were already invading his personal space.
The woman who sold him a black satin smoking jacket for the event said, “you look amazing.”
And so when Saturday, Oct. 25 came, Rowley was ready. He went to his parents’ house and spent 30 minutes fluffing with his mom’s purple metallic hairdryer. He assured himself that he was entering just to show he had done it. And soon, he could shave it off.
He went to the auditorium, where 300-some participants paraded their follicle feats proudly on their faces. The competition was fierce: moustaches curving up to eyes, goatees braided into ropes, even a beard weaved with Cheetos. For five hours the show went on for a row of judges that included a beauty pageant winner and a man often referred to as “the foremost authority on the cultural history of facial hair.”
The contestants were asked to strut and the crowd was asked to cheer and when it came time to announce the winner, our man with the nothing-doing and peanut butter smell heard a familiar name:
And like that, he had the best beard in the world.