Jimmy Niggles* is hoping someone out there will stump up a million dollars for his beard.
It's not that there's anything particularly special about it. It's nice enough, but nothing you wouldn't see on the face of any Sydney or Melbourne hipster these days. So all things considered, his asking price may initially seem a tad steep.
However, what makes 33-year-old Niggles' beard so special is that he wants to use the million bucks for a very worthwhile cause: to take his important message about Beard Season, and skin cancer, to the world.
How does growing a beard for winter help beat melanoma?
Starting the first day of winter, Beard Season is a global movement that turns beards into life saving conversation starters - challenging you, your friends and family to book a skin check for melanoma. Find out more at BeardSeason.com.au
Beard Season is the time when blokes around Australia are encouraged to get a hairy face to raise awareness about skin cancer and specifically, melanoma. Niggles came up with the idea when a mate, Wes Bonny, succumbed to the deadly disease at just 26 years of age.
"Wes went to the beach a lot and he was from the country, just like me," Niggles says. "We played AFL together. Since he passed away we have a Wes Bonny Memorial Game down in Canberra every year."
Six years ago we lost one of our mates to #melanoma. Six years ago, at his wake, we came up with an idea to turn #winter into #BeardSeason, telling everyone who asks us about our #beards to get a #BeardSeasonSkincheck. Every winter since has seen more and more wonderful people join a movement which now saves on average a life a week. #Melanoma is known as #Australia's national #cancer, and is one of the deadliest out there. But... it can be one of the most treatable if detected early. We're not in this for money, we're here for action. To encourage as many people as possible to see their local #dermatologist or properly skilled GP. Because it's things like this which can have such a huge impact, on you, your family, friends, workmates and sports teams. So if you're reading this now, don't just 'like', make an appointment and make it a ritual. Winter is the best time to get checked, and the doctors are great to educate you on what to look for and what to keep an eye on. For everyone growing a #beard this winter you are our heroes. We invite you to make the most of the opportunity and spread the word as much as you can. We really miss you Wes. What you've inspired is growing more and more each year, I just wish we could have started this with you still being here to be part of it. RIP mate. #GrowOn...
Beard Season was conceived at Wes' wake, held at a pub in country NSW. "There were a bunch of old farmers in the corner of the bar who had these amazing big farmer, wizard beards and we wondered why nobody our age were rocking beards anymore?" Niggles says. "This was six years ago, and nobody our age was growing a beard, so we threw the idea around and thought growing a beard takes a fair bit of commitment; the same kind of commitment you need to go and get a skin check."
And so Beard Season was born; a time to grow your beard for three months over winter, get a skin check and then use your beard to tell others to do the same.
This year's Season will be launched at Bronte Beach in Sydney on Saturday, June 4. Highlights will include a giant Connect Four, inflatable whale race, BBQ, and skin check tent. "It should be a great family day out and there'll be lots of beards to look at," Niggles says.
He hopes this will be the Beard Season when somebody with deep pockets offers him one million dollars for his beard. He recently met with billionaire Richard Branson but failed to raise the subject. "I only had a minute with him and thought he probably gets hit up for money all the time, so I didn't ask him if he wanted to buy my beard. I suppose I probably should have mentioned it," he says. "Selling my beard is a long-term goal."
You never know who you'll run into. The power of a conversation. Please share... #This is Sir @RichardBranson. His is one of our latest #BeardSeasonAmbassadors. Ever since our mate #WesBonny passed away from #melanoma I've been using my #beard as a conversation starter to challenge people to get #BeardSeasonSkincheck. Every winter since, more and more of you have been doing the same. Spreading our movement around the world and saving lives one conversation at a time. Last night I challenged this bloke to #getaskincheck. Rob from @StrandHatters made it happen and it was a lifetime goal come true. I was shaking like a twig in a hurricane so I probably made no sense at all. I did however have a deck of #Project60 #BeardSeasonPlayingCards and the latest edition of @TheCutThroatJournal which features the #MillionDollarBeard on the front cover and a wonderful double page spread on the #BeardSeason story. So I'm hoping they fill in the blanks for us. I managed to ask if he'd like to be part of @MrElbank's #BEARDexhibition as we've long been campaigning for. Perhaps a little help from you all (@GrahNort, @TimHow1, @WithJohnHurt, @RickiSamHall, @TheHughJackman) might get him across the line. So happy to have such a chance encounter. This journey you've all be part of is all about these kind of interactions. It's what you do with them that makes it count. Who will you challenge to get a #BeardSeasonSkincheck today? #GrowOn...
The new owner of Niggles' beard is guaranteed to get plenty of attention. Niggles reckons folks often hang out of passing cars and yell at him. "They call me Ned Kelly," he says. "People are always asking to touch it, particularly women. Perhaps it's natural instinct. I thought it would be hard growing a beard with work and meeting new people, but it's been the complete opposite. People love it. I highly recommend every gent gives it a go, especially when it can save lives."
*Not his real name, but he doesn't want it to be all about him.