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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Seven young contestants from around the United States put their best and smelliest shoe forward at the 42nd National Rotten Sneaker Contest in New York City on Tuesday.
Twelve-year-old Connor Slocombe claimed the first place title for having the worst-smelling sneaker after three prior attempts to win the contest in years past.
The four judges of the contest, which was held at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square, all cringed at the smell of Slocombe's beat-up shoe.
George Aldrich, a chemical specialist at NASA, said Slocombe managed to create all the smells he sniffs for in a shoe.
"One is the very putrid and then the pungent that kind of gets up your nose and makes your eyes water," Aldrich said. "And then the heave part, which is just an involuntary reaction. He had all three of them."
Techniques for developing the putrid odors included never wearing socks and walking through mud, according to the contestants, some of whom traveled from Alaska, Colorado, Illinois and New Mexico to participate in the event.
"Well my aunt owns a farm and sometimes I help out, so when I see animal poop I'll step in it to get in the shoes to get dirty," Slocombe said proudly. "And then when we go fishing I'll step in fish guts."
Slocombe walked away with $2,500 and Broadway show tickets. He will also be inducted into the Odor Eaters Hall of Fumes.
A Vermont sporting goods store owner started the competition in 1974 as a way to promote a new line of sneakers. Foot care company Odor-Eaters became the official sponsor of the contest in 1988.
Reporting by Alicia Powell in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler