Nicaraguan cigar firm cashes in on Obama

/ Source: The Associated Press

President Barack Obama has solved the economic crisis — at least for one cigar company.

As soon as Obama won the November election, Granada 1524 Cigars of Corona, Calif., began shipping Obama Presidential Series 44 cigars out of Nicaragua to the U.S. market.

Miguel Ramirez, head of the company's operations in Nicaragua, says they've been selling fast.

"They disappeared in Washington, New York, California, Florida and Las Vegas," said Ramirez, 71.

Granada, which doesn't have its own factory, has hired Nicaragua's Segovia Cigars to produce the Obama series. The company is among several cigar manufacturers in northern Nicaragua that in all employ some 17,000 people.

Ramirez said the company exported a total of 20,000 cigars to the U.S. in December and January.

Anto Kamarian, owner of Cigars by Chivas in Pasadena, Calif., and Anto's Cigar Lounge in Long Beach, Calif., said he's never had a new cigar sell like the Obama model. Kamarian said he expected to sell one or two boxes a month when he began carrying the line six weeks ago, and was surprised when he nearly sold out. The cigars retail for $15 to $20 each, depending on the size.

He described it as a high-quality, medium-bodied smoke, and said it's popular with cigar connoisseurs as well as Obama supporters.

It was also a conversation piece with his regulars, who "gave me a hard time because I'm a Republican," he said.

Obama isn't likely to try the cigar.  A former chain-smoker, he quit at first lady Michelle Obama's insistence.