John Axford, the pitcher who this year led the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League Championship Series for the first time in 29 years, was named the 2011 Mustached American of the Year by the American Mustache Institute (AMI).
"We are honored to give this award to the Ax man," said AMI Chairman Aaron Perlut. "Even though he is Canadian, we believe John represents everything else the Mustached American community values: humor, intelligence and good looks. He is also very tall."
The award was announced Friday night at AMI's annual fundraiser, 'Stache Bash, held at Joe's Bar in Chicago raising funds through November for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong. The event was attended by 500 hairy-lipped fans who danced to the sounds of Chicago's Flavor Savers, the official band of AMI and several eastern European countries.
"I've been growing this bad boy out for four or five months but I realized now that it's not even about growing a mustache out, it's about representing the community well," said a humble Axford. "It's unbelievable. To say that a Canadian if finally winning and Robert Goulet was born of French Canadian parents, it helps it become more of a North American award."
Axford, who sports a menacing Fu Manchu-style mustache, won the award with more than half of all the nearly 1,000,000 votes cast online. His win demonstrates the power of his social media presence: he has more than 35,000 Twitter followers and he posts frequently about lip sweater topics.
Second place in voting for the award went to Bob Kevioan of the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Radio show; third went to Ronnie Moore, a Decatur, Ala. Mustached American who sings in the band, Barnstormers.; fourth went to Erie, Pa. newsman Sean Lafferty and fifth to Air Force Capt. Michael Van Ert.
Axford received the prestigious American award despite being a Canadian citizen, having been born in one of the many obscure Canadian cities no one in the U.S. has ever heard of. The nomination committee deliberated over his entry, but Axford's legal representatives were able to prevail by citing Robert Goulet's Canadian birth, a fact overlooked when the award was created.
"The voters have spoken and the country that brought us low calorie bacon and football played by something called the Alouettes will now be home to this award," Perlut said.Among the highlights of Axford's 2011 season:
- He created a video for a line of mustache sprays with the tagline: "One spritz and you look like Spitz, or, more to the point, me, John Axford."
- He convinced fellow pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to wear a duct-tape mustache during a nationally televised game against the New York Mets.
- He led the National League in saves with 46 and was second in games finished with 63 while leading the Brewers to a Central Division crown and a birth in the National League Championship Series.
'Stache Bash was held in Chicago for the first time following the release of AMI's analysis of 'stache-friendly cities named Chicago the top city for mustached Americans. Milwaukee, Axford's adopted home, was the sixth-ranked city for mustache wearers.