A Missouri town is poised to name a rodeo clown who gained national attention for mocking President Barack Obama as its person of the year.
Sedalia’s Person of the Year contest was inspired by Time magazine’s well-known list, topped this year by Pope Francis, and was the idea of KXKX-FM disco jockey Rob Edwards.
Seven nominees were named for 2013, but Tuffy Gessling, better known as Tuffy the Clown, is running away from the competition.
Edwards said the title goes to the person who had the biggest impact on the town, and he said Gessling certainly fit that bill.
Gessling donned an Obama mask this summer at the Missouri State Fair as an announcer asked if they cheering crowd if they wanted to “see Obama get trampled.”
A bull eventually approached Gessling, who jumped up and ran away to more cheers.
“It was a hugely hot topic around here — I mean it was national news, too –but I think that’s why people vote for him, because he brought national attention, for better or for worse,” Edwards said.
Gessling said he’d performed similar stunts while dressed as previous presidents, but many people were uncomfortable with a crowd cheering potentially violent acts against the nation’s first black president.
Edwards said he hadn’t spoke to Gessling, who said he received threats after the state fair, but he knew the rodeo clown was aware of the competition because others have shared it on his Facebook page.
“I think that’s another reason why he’s doing so well, he actually has a lot of fans, believe it or not,” Edwards sasid. “I’ve met him a few times, he seems like a cool guy.”
The other nominees include a local business owner who is active in charity organizations and a community photographer.
The runner-up so far is the Sedalia police department’s STING unit.
Voting ends Thursday in the competition.