Chicago, IL —
After nearly 100,000 votes were cast online four men have been chosen as this year's Bud Boyz, a competition produced by Media Consultants for Anheuser-Busch.
Angi Taylor of 103.5 KISS-FM announced Tristan Hayden, Jason Bitner, Bradley French and Eric Wilken as winners during ChicagoPride.com's 10th Anniversary Party at Hydrate
on Thursday, June 14.
"The announcement at the party made us feel like rockstars," confessed Bitner.
Hopefuls submitted their pictures and an essay to explain why they should be selected as the next Bud Boy. Then fifteen finalists were selected for online voting over the course of 6 weeks.
"I was very excited on the diversity of the entrants, which is what we want," said Gehrig Peterson of Media Consultants, the company that produces the Bud Boyz
. "I thought our finalists were all pretty amazing and any of them would have been great winners."
Family, friends and associates of each Bud Boy finalist could cast one vote per one-hour period on ChicagoPride.com – each voter was entered to win a $100 prize.
"It was a long, stressful couple of months of promoting. But I couldn't have done it without all the support from my great group of friends voting for me," commented Bitner.
Collectively, the four winners received 30,256 votes with the breakdown as follows: Hayden with 8,751 votes, Bitner with 8,219 votes, French with 6,771 votes and Wilken with 6,665.
"The contest created a good competitive environment, though I'm sure most of my Facebook friends hate me," joked French.
This year's contest was extremely competitive with only 150 votes separating Wilken and fifth place contestant Daniel Marks.
The four winners receive a trip for two for 7 nights to the RIU Palace Pacifico in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. For his part, Marks received an airfare voucher for two from Orbitz.com and $250.
"I'm still single so it could be anyone," joked Bitner when asked who he might take on the trip.
The newly minted Bud Boyz
kicked off their first set of roles and responsibilities for the brand by walking along side the Shock Top VW Beetle in Sunday's Pride Parade. Following that, they are expected to carry out and make appearances at selected sampling events in LGBT businesses throughout Chicagoland with a special focus on Boystown and Andersonville. Bud Boyz
event appearances are listed at budboyz.com
Event manager Olin Eargle was excited to bring in another year of outgoing personalities, but notes that there is a more important element behind the competition.
"The point of the Bud Boyz
all together is to bring more attention to the gay community for Bud Light and for all of our the Anheuser-Busch products," said Eargle. "To show that Bud is very involved with the community."
Bitner agreed, "I think it's great that Budweiser is reaching out to the LGBT community. As Bud Boyz
we are representatives for Budweiser in the local community and I like to think that I'm the 'Bud' boy next door."
Budweiser is the official beer of Halsted Tastes Better, Pride Fest and Northalsted Market Days, coming August 11 and 12 in Boystown.
"I'm happy Bud Light is making an effort to support the LGBT community," said French. "We benefit by having a large corporation support our rights."
The Bud Boyz
competition was presented by Bud Light and sponsored in part by Grab Magazine
, Apple Vacations.com, RIU Hotels & Resorts and ChicagoPride.com.