Thirteen-year-old Katharine Tuck's sneakers are equal opportunity offenders. They smell as bad as they look. Now, the Utah seventh grader is $2,500 richer because of it: On Tuesday, she out-ranked six other children to win the 32nd annual National Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker Contest, stinking up the joint with a pair of well-worn 1 1/2-year-old Nikes so noxious they had the judges wincing.
"I'm so proud of the little stinker," said her mother, Paula Tuck.
Ah, the foul smell of success.
The contest, which was founded in 1975 as a sporting good store promotion and is now sponsored by the manufacturer of anti-foot odor products, pits children from around the nation who have won state-level competitions for the generally cruddy condition of their footwear.
Kyle Underwood, 9, was in from Las Cruces, N.M., with his low-cut black Starters, the ones with the blown-out toe on the right foot. "These are bad," sighed judge Andy Brewer. "Ooh, these are really bad."
Michael Nduka, 9, of White Plains, N.Y., was there, too, with his ratty black-and-white low-cuts, which — like the others — were passed from judge to judge for inspection. Judge William Fraser, who is Montpelier's city manager, held one up using the tip of a pen, like a crime scene investigator trying not to taint the evidence.
Eleven-year-old Alex Clark's sneakers had tape over the holes in the toes, and the instep of one was blown out. When judge George Aldrich took a whiff, he coughed and then handed the sneaker back to Clark. "I saw you flinch," Aldrich said to him.
"As a parent, you want to hide," said Kathy Midgley, 48, of Berkeley Heights, N.J., who was there to watch her 8-year-old son compete.
Clad in Odor-Eaters baseball caps and Odor-Eaters T-shirts, each contestant had to jump in place once and then make one full turn in place before taking off his or her shoes and handing them to the judges. It was 24 degrees outside, but only one of them wore socks — since foot sweat is a boon not a bane in this game.
Kyle Underwood，9岁，来自Las Cruces, N.M。他的矮腰黑色Starters的右脚趾部分已经穿漏了。评委Andy Brewer说：“这双鞋真破。哦，真是太破了。”
Michael Nduka，9岁，来自White Plains, N.Y.。他那双破旧的黑白矮腰鞋子和其他鞋子一样，被评委挨个传阅。评委之一蒙彼利埃市执行长William Fraser用笔尖挑着鞋子，好像侦探取证时害怕沾染证物一样。
Alex Clark，11岁，他鞋子的脚趾部分已经被贴上胶布，一只的脚背也已经露洞。评委George Aldrich轻轻闻了一下便咳嗽起来，当他将鞋子递还给Clark的时候说：“我看见你往后缩了。”
Kathy Midgley，48岁，来自Berkeley Heights, N.J，是一名8岁小参赛者的妈妈，她说：“作为孩子家长，你想找个地缝钻了。”