‘Mullet Boy’ Emmitt Bailey is the 2022 Children’s Mule Champion
Thus began the transformation of young people in Menomonie, Wisconsin into “Mullet Boy”.
Emmitt’s mane – short, spiky blonde hair on top, with long, curly locks flowing down the back – initially turned heads among locals. Then it sent him rocketing through the preliminary rounds of the 2022 Kid’s Mullet Championships, earning him viral fame and his new nickname. On Sunday, he was crowned the winner.
When asked how it felt to have America’s Best Kid’s Mule, Emmitt had only one word: “Awesome.”
The rising third-grader, who is also a fan of professional wrestling, fishing and sports (but not school) and dreams of being a racing driver, was still on top of his big win when he joined the Washington Post for a Zoom interview Tuesday. He appeared wearing his Pit Vipers – the wraparound neon sunglasses he donned in the photos he submitted for the contest. He kept them for the duration of the chat.
“They’re just part of my look,” he laughed.
Emmitt’s look is “pretty amazing,” said Kevin Begola, the Fenton, Michigan man who founded the USA Mullet Championships. He thinks the “blonde, blonde” hair and shades helped the 8-year-old boy from Wisconsin beat out nearly 700 other contestants.
Begola, owner of a men’s store called Bridge Street Exchange, launched the contest in 2020, believing that the distinctive ’80s hairstyle was making a comeback. Alas, he doesn’t have one himself: “The funny thing is that I’m bald,” he said by phone from his store.
He was inspired, he says, by others he saw wearing mullets.
“You think, ‘That guy over there, he’s been rocking a mullet for 20 or 30 years. Who is that guy?’ “Begola said. “It’s one of those things you see in nature and you’re like, ‘This takes commitment.’ ”
The contest had 130 entrants in its first year and quickly took off, with categories for men, women, teens and children. Hundreds of people are vying for the title and the $2,500 prize, submitting front and side profile photos. Begola and other mullet experts – including a stylist who cuts them, a former winner and a man called the “mule godfather” – narrow the pool and from there it goes to an online vote.
The key, Begola said, is “you have to be able look at a photo and know they are living the lifestyle.
That’s true for Emmitt, according to his family. The eldest of two boys, he “definitely has his own style,” said his mother, Erin. The 8-year-old, who wrestles and plays football, hockey and baseball, “just doesn’t take it too seriously,” she said.
“He wouldn’t care if someone said, like, ‘Why do you have your hair like that?’ ” she continued. “That’s what he likes and what he wants, to make his own decisions. He doesn’t tend to let a lot of things bother him and get him down too much. I think it shows in the mule lifestyle.
Emmitt made the judges’ cut and went on to become a fan favorite – especially after a local news interview where he assaulted the camera in his undertones. When the reporter asked him if he would cut his mullet after the contest, he smiled and asked, “Why would I do that?”
On Sunday, his family gathered to hear the results of the online vote. His parents had prepared him for the possibility that he might not win the prize. When Emmitt was announced as the first-place winner, he said, “I jumped like 10 feet in the air.”
“I was screaming and screaming,” said her father, Eric. “I just couldn’t believe he did that.
Already, Emmitt has a plan for his prize money: “Buy a go-kart,” he said. “Because I want to run.”
It’s been a whirlwind for the Bailey family since Emmitt’s win. They appeared on national television, often wearing Pit Viper sunglasses, and fielded dozens of interview requests. Eric said he received Facebook messages from people all over the world. He was also approached to throw the first pitch at an upcoming baseball game.
Despite Emmitt’s fame, his father joked, “He still has to do the dishes.”
“Oh my God, it’s been so crazy,” her mother said. “I never expected to tell so many people about my 8-year-old son’s haircut.”
Laughing, she added, “I guess I was wrong from the start.”