Jon Rice looks like a rock star. But he's better known for his beard.
"As soon as I started growing it out, I realized the potential it had," said Rice, a 27-year-old from Plantation, who hasn't shaved in 18 months.
Next week, Rice will put his beard to the test, when he takes his 11 inches of facial fur to the 2010 Beard and Mustache Championships in Bend, Oregon.
"Just like any sport, not everybody can actually do it," said Rice.
A sport? You may scoff, but the competition is intense. Rice's strength is the "Best Full Beard" category. The reigning champ is renowned red-beard Jack Passion.
"He's become my beard idol , per se, within the beard community," said Rice, with a straight face.
Rice says it's nice being recognized for his beard skills. In fact, his beard has its own Facebook page. He also doesn't mind when people touch it, as long as they ask first.
"I have a brush for the beard and I wash and condition daily," Rice explains. "I also use a special conditioner twice a day. That's my secret."
The worst part about having a thick beard is eating. Rice says that can get a bit hairy.
"It gets very messy...chili dogs, cereal, soup, anything with melted cheese...it's a no-go."
The prize money at the championships isn't huge -- $1,000 for the winner of each category -- but it's more about the glory anyway.
"My plan is to grow it out to its full potential," says Rice.
And he can, without worrying about beard discrimination...because he works at Hot Topic inside the mall.
"Fortunately for me, my job allows me to have this marvelous beard," said Rice. "But I can see how other jobs where you have to wear a suit and tie would frown about this."