York Township man could win big bucks for beard, athleticism
York Township resident Chris McCooey hasn't shaved his beard in 4½ years. But this year, his facial hair, paired with his athletic skills and determination, could end up winning him $20,000.
The yoga instructor's beard and stamina-driven talents have made him a top-10 finalist in Wahl's "Most Talented Beard in America" competition. The grooming company for the first time ever is looking to award a bearded competitor who also happens to have a unique skill.
McCooey's specialty: Obstacle-course racing that has become a prime source of entertainment with television shows such as American Ninja Warrior.
"I took (the competition) as just a prompt to do something fun and see what I could create," he said.
McCooey said he first began to compete in obstacle course contests in 2011. Since then, he has had his fair share of injuries and victories.
Come 2020, amid a global pandemic, Wahl just happened to sponsor a competition that fit both McCooey's long beard and physical prowess.
“We created this contest to spread positivity and celebrate all of the bearded guys out there — many of whom are newly whiskered since quarantine earlier this year,” said Steven Yde, a vice president for Wahl.
Wahl first launched the "Most Talented Beard in America" competition in September, when it put out a casting call for bearded individuals throughout the country to submit videos of their unique talents.
While the company chose the top 10 finalists, the public will decide the three winners.
A first-place spot in the competition would earn McCooey $20,000. A second-place finish would come with a $10,000 prize, and a third-place finish would reward him with $5,000.
McCooey's competition includes Matt Thomas, from Elmhurst, New York, who figure skates while simultaneously playing a saxophone solo. He's also up against Braulio Giovannetti, of Miami, who performs one-handed origami while balancing hot coffee and painting.
Should McCooey win, he said, any reward money would help pay off debt accrued in 2017 from taking care of his grandparents, who could no longer live independently at the time.
"I really didn't expect to make it this far," McCooey said, "Every time they keep calling me for another step in the process, I'm like, really, you want me?"
Those wishing to vote for McCooey can do so here. The voting period is open until Dec. 9.
A winner will be announced on Dec. 15, according to Wahl.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.