In the final days of No-Shave November, NBC weatherman Al Roker took a last-minute lead over Hamptonite Matt Lauer and has been declared victorious in the inaugural Today show beard war.
Since November 1, the Today anchors, as well as a number of staffers, have participated in “No-Shave November,” allowing their whiskers to grow all month as part of the national “Movember” campaign to highlight men’s health issues, including prostate and testicular cancer.
Starting November 12, South O’ the Highway has pitted the four NBC personalities—Lauer, The Voice host Carson Daly, Roker and Shelter Islander Willie Geist—in an unwitting beard war, and our celebrity judge, Beard Team USA founder and captain Phil Olsen had named Lauer the leader throughout, with Daly a close second.
But all that changed when Roker grabbed the lead just before Thanksgiving, and he held strong, defeating Lauer in a final public showdown—with millions of Americans watching—during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday. Here’s how it went down, according to Olsen, who is credited with bringing the sport of competitive bearding to the United States.
“In a stunning development, Roker burst from behind to challenge early frontrunner Lauer in the home stretch,” Olsen said, acknowledging that the weatherman’s white whiskers first seemed to hurt his chances against the darker, “more powerful” beards. “While originally a liability, the white in Roker’s beard is beginning to stand out and reminds us of the beardsman who’ll be coming to town soon,” he said.
“Meanwhile Daly’s beard looks great and Geist’s has matured, its early patchiness starting to fill in nicely,” Olsen said of the younger competitors—both of whom earned respectable marks behind Roker and Lauer. “It was a photo finish,” Olsen said while lamenting the inevitable shaving that would come as the new month began.
“I actually already know the tragic ending to this saga,” the bearding pro continued. “Before I learned the awful truth, I was going push hard for Geist to give it at least another month, as his beard was really starting to enhance his appearance in a positive way,” Olsen said, giving kudos to Geist’s developing growth following weeks of calling his beard “immature” and “premature” as compared to his fellow anchors.
“Come December 1, we at Beard Team USA had hoped that the Today show hosts would continue growing their beards for America in preparation for the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Portland, Oregon next September.
Visit beardteamusa.org to learn more about Phil Olsen and Beard Team USA.