DES MOINES, Iowa — Riggs hardly looks or acts like a beauty king. A 3-year-old male bulldog, Riggs is a drooler with protruding teeth and a penchant for attacking noisy appliances, begging for crumbs and hopping on furniture.
Fortunately for the canine from Prairie City, Iowa, those traits endeared him to judges Monday in the "Beautiful Bulldog" contest, an annual event held to draw attention to the 98th running of the Drake Relays. The relays, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious track and field events, will attract nearly 8,000 athletes.
Riggs beat out a 50-dog field that included the likes of Sir Grizwald Snorzalot, Napoleon Underbite and Crazy Legs Da Moose to take the crown. Contest organizers acknowledge the event is more about a winning personality than beauty.
"The last thing you're going to get with a bulldog is beauty," said master of ceremonies Dolph Pulliam. "But bulldogs have character. They have a certain look...they're the kind of dog you look at and you get scared. But you know what? These are the friendliest darn bulldogs in the world."
Kept his cool
Many thought Riggs' chief competition would be Hank, the offspring of the last two contest winners. Last year's winner, Hannah, gave Riggs a snarl, but he kept his cool, plodding down the runway both gracefully and glacially.
The brown and white dog was dressed in a form-fitting costume in Drake's blue and white colors.
"He's the most beautiful bulldog (with) his attitude and his demeanor. He's just kind of stout, and he's ready to do this," said his owner, Cordell Miller. "He's very excited."
Riggs celebrated by posing for photographers and munching on a doggy bone, leaving crumbs and drool on his throne.
"He's pretty low key, until it's time to eat," Miller said.