It’s official, South O’ the Highway called it right: Matt Lauer is leading the Today show beard war.
According to Beard Team USA founder and captain Phil Olsen, the Hamptonite and NBC newsman is leading his fellow anchors Al Roker, Carson Daly and Willie Geist—who have also committed to stop shaving during the month of November. All four men are taking part in “No-Shave November” to raise awareness of men’s health issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancer.
Always ready to seize an opportunity, we’ve decided to pit the Today show talent in an unwitting battle of the beards, and we’ll be watching closely over the next 18 days, leading up to our final ruling on December 1. Miraculously, we made the right call in our initial assessment of the anchors’ beards—due more to Hamptons loyalty than any particular expertise in the sport of competitive bearding—but we need a trained and impartial eye moving forward.
And who could be better than “the figurehead of American bearding” Phil Olsen? The founder and captain of Beard Team USA, Olsen attended his first World Beard and Moustache Championships in Ystad, Sweden, in 1999. While there he enjoyed the community and camaraderie of bearding, but later found that America was underrepresented in the sport. This led Olsen to embark on a mission to bring bearding to America and “establish the USA an international facial hair powerhouse.”
In 2003, he organized the worlds competition in Carson City, Nevada, and in 2009, Beard Team USA defeated Germany (the world’s bearding leader) for the first time ever. Olsen was winner of “best beard” at the 2007 Joyce Daze Beard Contest and “blackest beard” at the 2007 Nevada Day Beard contest, he is featured on IFC’s popular Whisker Wars program and is credited as mentor and coach of bearding’s most recognizable champion Jack Passion.
Judging the Today show anchors’ beards, Olsen noted that it’s a bit early to call any of their facial hair a legitimate beard. “We will have a better idea by the end of the month,” Olsen explained, adding, “but even one month is not enough time for a good beard to develop.”
With that said, he weighed in on the competitors, based on the photos from November 11 that were featured in yesterday’s post. “I have to go with Lauer,” Olsen said before offering his insight on the others.
“Geist’s beard looks a bit on the premature side,” the legendary bearder said of the newest Today anchor, before looking at Roker and Daly. “Roker’s looks almost white—not a bad thing but a darker beard is more powerful,” Olsen offered, opining, “Daly has potential, but seems to be trailing Lauer.”
Keep an eye out for more coverage as the Today show beard war progresses.
Visit beardteamusa.org to learn more about Phil Olsen and Beard Team USA.