Emmitt Bailey isn’t just a mullet champion — he’s the mullet champion.
The 8-year-old from Menomonie, Wisconsin, was announced Sunday as the winner in the kids division for the USA Mullet Championships, beating out 688 other young entrants and their flowing locks.
“It’s awesome,” Emmitt told BuzzFeed News of his win. “It’s cool that so many people tell you that you got sweet hair.”
The mullet competition has been running since 2020 and is the brainchild of Kevin Begola, the owner of Michigan menswear store Bridge Street Exchange in Fenton, which is northwest of Detroit. Begola said he started the event to have some fun and to celebrate the iconic ’80s hairstyle.
“You'll hear a lot of people say, ‘It's not just a haircut, it's a lifestyle,’ and I really do think that's part of it,” Begola told BuzzFeed News. “Most people with a mullet, obviously they can take the heat if people are kind of giving them crap about it, but I think we've kind of turned that corner.
“I do think the '90s country vibe is coming back hard right now,” he added.
In addition to the kids competition, the event features teen and adult categories, where judges and the public work to whittle down the entrants to a pool of just 25 finalists. Users online then get to crown the winner.
With 9,896 votes, Emmitt’s hair was selected as the best in the kids division, while Cayden Kershaw of Wausau, Wisconsin, took the teen title.
Emmitt said he’d been growing his mullet, which he has nicknamed “Mufasa,” for two years, and mom Erin Bailey confessed she didn’t initially support the plan.
“He was pretty adamant about wanting the mullet since the beginning,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I wasn't on board right away, but it’s just become part of his personality now. He just likes to do his own thing and have his own hair.”
Emmitt and his fellow young mullet fans received online and media attention when finalists were announced this week. Emmitt, given the nickname “Mullet Boy,” was featured in Wisconsin TV reports and even the New York Post.
In addition to a pair of Pit Viper sunglasses to complement his ’80s look, Emmitt has won a $2,500 cash prize, which he said he plans to spend on a go-kart.
Half of each competitor’s $10 entry fee is also being donated to Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids, a Michigan charity that provides wigs for children experiencing hair loss due to cancer, alopecia, or other disorders.
Begola said he thinks the competition has proved to be so popular because people are eager for the fun that the mullet symbolizes.
“I think it's all about not taking life so serious, especially after the last couple years,” he said. “I always tell people this was like lightning in a bottle. It really was. I think it was a mixture of culture pushback on just everything that's been down, with COVID and politics and everything. I think this was a good relief for everybody.”