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Vt. Boy's Sneakers Named Smelliest in U.S.


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Vt. Boy's Sneakers Named Smelliest in U.S.


Associated Press Writer

March 23, 2005, 9:15 AM EST

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- There wasn't much left of the sneakers Noah Nielsen entered into the contest Tuesday, but it was the stench that earned him the top prize.

Nielsen, 10, beat six other contestants from around the country in the 30th annual national rotten sneaker contest.

The secret of his success? "No socks, ever."

"The stank was from rubbing my toes back and forth and making them sweaty," said Nielsen, with his trophy in hand and two golden sneakers hanging from his neck.

Nielsen said he also played soccer and baseball in the three-year-old Adidas patched together with duck tape. The wide gaps in the shoes revealed grimy toes and emitted a pungent odor that drove one judge to gag, another to take a step back and a dog to roll on top of the sneakers.

"Human feet shouldn't smell that bad," said judge Bill Fraser, Montpelier city manager.

Nielsen is a veteran of the competition. Last year he was a runner-up in the state event.

In the week leading up to this year's contest, he refused to take a bath. When his parents insisted, they found him with his feet hanging out of the tub, his father Peter Nielsen said.

His parents wouldn't allow him to wear the sneakers to school, so he put them on in the morning and at night. Noah Nielsen even wore them to bed Monday night, said his sister, Izabel, 13.

As the winner, he was awarded a $500 savings bond, a $100 check for new sneakers and a supply of Odor-Eaters products.

The other young contestants came from as far away as Alaska, Texas, Washington and Utah to compete in the event, which is sponsored by Odor-Eaters.

They each competed in state competitions to make it to Montpelier.

The contest began in 1975 as a way to help a local sporting goods store sell shoes. In 1988, Odor-Eaters -- maker of anti-foot-odor insoles, sprays and powder -- assumed sponsorship of the event.

The four judges, including an odor expert from NASA and a black Labrador retriever, ranked the sneakers for their soles, heals, toes, laces and odor.

Kylan Dinkel, 10, from Wasilla, Alaska, said she played soccer in her muddy laceless sneakers for four years.

Jake Nelson, 10, of Lehi, Utah, dragged his behind his scooter. "He just doesn't like to wear socks," his father Steve Nelson said.

But it was Nielsen's that stood out. "I didn't like that," Bill Aldrich of NASA said after he took a sniff.

"I'll just take a step back," said judge Martha Tucker. "Those are impressive."

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press


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