When Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for his next start, he’ll do so as the first athlete with a sponsored beard. Men’s grooming tool manufacturer Wahl announced the unprecedented four-month deal Tuesday at the National Press Club, where Gonzalez received a certificate of achievement for “facial hair excellence,” a T-shirt and a complimentary trim. Wahl also announced Washington, D.C. as the “most facial hair friendly” city in the country. [In 2014, Nationals were the hairiest MLB team of them all] D.C. ranked 19th on the list of the most facial hair friendly cities last year. According to a press release, the Nationals played a large part in D.C.’s rise to No. 1. Via Wahl: While general popularity of facial hair helped dictate the results of the study, notable facial-hair-related events contributed to the rankings. In L.A., the male celebrity scene continues to support the anti-clean-shaven lifestyle, keeping the City of Bearded Angels at the number two spot. Third-ranked Seattle jumped five spots, raising questions about a possible Grunge revival, while newcomer San Francisco made a ‘Giant’ leap from 29th to 4th thanks in large part to a plethora of baseball beards and some post-season magic last fall. Hey, this almost makes up for the Nationals’ NLDS loss to the Gia–nope. According to the terms of his sponsorship deal, Gonzalez agrees to keep his beard well-groomed and conditioned. Any reference to his beard must be preceded by “sponsored, or brought to you, by Wahl.” We can’t wait for someone to ask Gonzalez about his beard. Gonzalez discussed some of the competition in the Nationals clubhouse for title of best facial hair. “Aside from my beard, Jayson [Werth] is coming up, he’s doing alright with his,” Gonzalez said. “Bryce [Harper] is beautiful. He has some nice locks, it’s decent. But … it’s between J-Dub and now Danny Espinosa. He had one of the most incredible Fu Manchus ever, so those are my guys. Those are my picks.” The lefty also mentioned why he likes sporting a beard. “It’s something about the beard just brings out the animal, the beast inside,” he said. “You feel like you’re unstoppable.” Over the next four months, Wahl will visit the top 10 most facial hair friendly cities in the country, beginning with this weekend’s Safeway National Capital BBQ. They’ll offer free trims in their 30-foot mobile barbershop and donate $1 for every trim to the ZERO foundation’s fight to end prostate cancer.
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