Carson Daly Creeping Up on Matt Lauer in Today Show Beard War

Today Show BEARD WAR Matt Lauer, Willie Geist, Al Roker, Carson Daly
Why does Matt Lauer have a beard? To defeat his fellow Today show anchors, of course! Graphic: Oliver Peterson Photos: NBC

Another week into our battle of the Today show beards, and it appears frontrunner Matt Lauer is losing ground to MTV alum and host of NBC’s The Voice Carson Daly.

Taking part in “No-Shave November,” four NBC network anchors, including Lauer, Daly, Al Roker and Willie Geist (as well as a number of staffers), have been growing their facial hair since November 1 to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as testicular and prostate cancer. South O’ the Highway has pitted them against each other in an unwitting beard war, which ends when (we assume) the men shave on December 1.

Despite his assertion that Lauer and company’s less-than-voluminous whiskers are far from legitimate beards, professional bearding icon and Beard Team USA founder and captain Phil Olsen has agreed to judge their progress through a series of emails.

Last week, using reference photos taken of each man on November 11, Olsen said Lauer was leading his fellow anchors, while Daly had potential and Geist’s reddish stubble was a bit premature. Roker’s silver beard, Olsen added, was decent, but a darker beard is “more powerful.” (No surprise, considering Olsen won “blackest beard” at the 2007 Nevada Day Beard contest.)

One week later, based on pictures from November 18, the bearding veteran wrote, “…it could be that Daly is creeping up on Lauer.” But Olsen said the Hamptons’ resident newsman is still looking good. “Lauer is looking more and more distinguished, having cleaned up the corners a bit,” he remarked, taking note of some minor grooming Lauer did after learning that No-Shave November allows participants to trim and shape their grizzled growth.

Olsen put the Today show weatherman in third place, noting, “Roker’s beard appears to be filling in some.” Meanwhile, Today‘s newest anchor is trailing the pack. “I still rate Geist’s beard as immature —Maybe a few Novembers from now,” Olsen offered before sharing some sage words about his sport.

“Good beards, like good wine and good, glacier-carved valleys, take time,” he wrote. “A beard grows at the rate of only ½ mm per day. This is why we at Beard Team USA (“Growing beards for America since 2003!”) don’t understand events like No-shave November,” Olsen continued, adding, “We love America and grow our beard for America every month.”

Visit to find out more about Beard Team USA and Phil Olsen.

Phil Olsen Headshot Beard Team USA
Phil Olsen,


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