MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Seven West Virginia University students competed in the finals of the 2021 Beard Growing Contest.
The competition has been held since 1949. There were three prizes up for grab: $50, $75 and $100 cash prizes for the top three placers. Contestants were judged by three judges, one of whom was a former Mountaineer. Senior Anthony Dowling, a mechanical engineering major, won the contest and walked away with $100.
“I know the guy that beat me last year was here, so it was kind of nice to actually beat him this year,” Dowling said. “But it’s all just fun.”
Dowling said the competition was “definitely tough” because everyone had “nice beards”. He added that any one of them could have walked away with first place.
But to have ultimately won, Dowling said, felt “great”.
“This is my third time,” he said. “The first time I did it, I got third place. The second time, I got second place, and now, I got first. So, it would kind of be a kick, you know, to get knocked down a peg, so at least I, you know, went up.”
Dowling said he didn’t do anything different this year, which was part of his surprise.
“I don’t know if I matured a little more and my beard got better, or just different judges had different opinions,” Dowling said. “But I did the same as I did last year.”
Regardless, Dowling said he was happy to have won.
And now that he’s finally placed first, Dowling said there were two things he was most likely to buy with his winnings.
“I’ll probably spend it on gas and food now because I’m a broke college student,” he said.
The 2021 Beard Growing Contest Winner said he loves the competition and that he hopes “they keep it up for many more years” after he’s gone.
Nick Raynor, a graduate student in human resources management from Hanover, Pa., placed in second and took home $75.
Iuri Lira Santos, a graduate student in civil engineering from Recife, Brazil, placed third. He represented the Brazilian Student Association and took home $50.