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2024 'World's Ugliest Dog' Contest: Winner Wild Thang visits TODAY – TODAY

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try again.
That’s the message from the owner of Wild Thang, the newly crowned winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, who finally won after five years of entering the competition.
The 8-year-old Pekingese didn’t place in his first go-round in the contest, and then followed it up with a trio of second-place finishes, before claiming this year’s title on June 21 in Petaluma, California.
“He got second three years in a row, first year nothing. So then three years in a row, he got second and we were like, ‘Let’s just go again because it’s so much fun. And if not, we’ll go back the next year,’” his owner, Ann Lewis told TODAY on June 24.
“Even ugly is beautiful,” she added.
Lewis also said Wild Thang, who loves ice cream, ice and people, is enjoying his newfound fame, enduring a ton of attention during his trip to New York City — including at the airport.
“We got bombarded. He was just loving it,” she said. “He was wagging his tail. He was happy. He was getting head shots with people.”
The dog was born and raised in Los Angeles and recently retired to North Bend, Oregon, according to his bio on Sonoma-Marin Fair’s website. Wild Thang contracted distemper as a puppy from a rescue foster.
“He survived, but not without permanent damage,” his bio says. “His teeth did not grow in, causing his tongue to stay out and his right front leg paddles 24/7.”
Apart from the physical issues, Wild Thang is “a healthy, happy Glugly (glamorous/ugly) guy,” his bio reads.
He and Lewis took home a $5,000 check.
NBC News’ Gadi Schwartz helped judge the 2024 contest, along with Linda Witong Abrahm, Brian Sobel, Amy Gutierrez, Fiona Ma.
Last year, a hairless Chinese Crested pup named Scooter took home the title. Scooter was born with deformed back legs and turned into animal control for euthanasia by his breeder. He was rescued by the Saving Animals From Euthanasia (SAFE) rescue group, which his owner is a member of, and now uses a cart to help him walk.
The contest has been going on for nearly 50 years, according to the website of Sonoma-Marin Fair, where the event takes place. The annual competition focuses on celebrating the uniqueness of all dogs and the benefits of adopting.
“The annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is not about making fun of ‘ugly’ dogs,” the website reads. “But having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!”
Ella is an editorial intern at TODAY.com and was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.


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