Daegan Goodman may have had the shortest distance to travel to the rotten sneaker contest, but you couldn’t tell that by smelling his shoes. The 10-year-old from Montpelier took the crown – and probably a few of the judges’ olfactory glands – in the annual event, which lured eight other nalists to Vermont’s capital city from across the country. Daegan explained his simple recipe for winning the coveted golden sneaker.
“I just wear ’em, sweat in ’em, play sports – I just try,” he said, the flashing bulbs and news cameras signaling the start of the youngster’s celebrity.
Regular use and abuse seemed the treatment of choice for competitors in Tuesday’s contest, which is sponsored by Odor-Eaters.
“I do BMX,” said James Melton, 11, of Phoenix, Ariz. “The dirt and sweat combined made (my sneakers) really stinky.”
James won a local contest to make it to Montpelier, heralded as the “Rotten Sneaker Capital of the World.”
Appearing last in the 90-ute finals, James couldn’t quite pass muster with “master sniffer” George Aldrich. But the sive stench from his sneakers caused the 48-year-old judge to sway slightly nonetheless.
The annual contest began in 1975 as a way to help a local sporting goods store sell shoes. In 1988, Odor-Eaters – maker of anti-foot-odor insoles, sprays and powder – assumed sponsorship of the event.
As the winner, Daegan gets a $500 savings bond, $100 to buy a new pair of sneakers, the golden sneaker and a plethora of Odor-Eater products – ting prizes for a boy with many more miles to walk.
He’ll also get plenty of at-tention along the way. Daegan is already scheduled for appearances on cable television shows, and organizers said he’ll get similar requests throughout the year.
But with glory comes sacrifice, and to prove it Odor-before judging began.
Sgt. Odor-Eaters – known better by his real name, Jason Goodwin – moderated the contest and led participants through a series of push-ups, jumping jacks and sit-ups to make their shoes smell all the more stupefying.
“It was an honor; I was City. “I didn’t realize how smelly the shoes would be.”
Smell alone is not the only quality the shoes are judged on. Appearance, “overall condition,” heels and soles also count, qualities that require the presence of four other judges.
But in the end it is Aldrich doesn’t get easier even though he’s conducted hundreds of smell tests for NASA (news – web sites) space shuttle missions.
“The stench sometimes stays with me for days,” said Aldrich. “It’s like a flashback.”
Despite the sour smells, Aldrich said he’d come back