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Ardon Heyliger holds the top spot in a competition to determine Bermuda's most handsome man of 2022 (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda, you have until tomorrow to cast your vote for the island's most handsome man of 2022.

The competition launched just over a week ago on social media. While the identity of its creator is being kept a secret to preserve the "mystique", close to 70 men have been nominated.

The votes are there for everyone to see on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. At press time Ardon Heyliger was leading with Jeff Baron not too far behind; Reis Van Putten was in third.

Although it is a competition it is meant to be "all in good fun" said the organiser, who was moved to create it to counter a website that, since 2016, has put out a list that many people didn’t agree with.

"I tend to think it’s a gay man that created it. It's usually the same guys every year on this list and they're all flamboyant, give or take one or two guys. Kim Swan, [the government MP] was on the list one year; Curtis Dickinson [the government finance minister] was on there in 2017. And the crazy thing about it, Nahki Wells [the professional football player] is on it this year but, paired with the rest of the guys, it kind of makes him seem mediocre and he is actually a very handsome guy."

In short, the list got "a lot of guys really upset".

"It wasn’t even just women that were upset about this list, a lot of men were upset with this list as well. People were wondering whether it was a man or woman that created the list, how did they come about these people; a lot of guys were like 'Oh, I'm not on the list so it's not official…'".

Once people started posting complaints about the list on Bermemes's Facebook page it all became too much.

"When it was brought to my attention I was like this is so absurd I'm not even going to mention it, because I didn’t want to draw any attention to it. But once Bermemes gets their hands on something … the title of this list was 'The Most Handsome Men Alive', which is actually an insult to the male demographic of Bermuda because there are so many handsome men out there.

"These guys are a far cry from being the most handsome men. I'm not saying they're not attractive but definitely not the most handsome."

People began demanding that Bermemes put out a list of its own but "for me, it didn’t happen quick enough".

Calls for nominations first went out on WhatsApp and Facebook; men and women quickly started sending in pictures.

Jeff Baron trails Ardon Heyliger in a social media competition to discover Bermuda's most handsome man of 2020 (Photograph supplied)

"Originally it started on my personal social media pages but it started to get a little traction so I was like, let me create a whole media platform for this. Bermemes got word of it and they have posted something in their stories on Instagram saying that some Bermudian created a list [and asking men] if they made the cut. It just blew up from there. I wasn’t expecting so much feedback."

The nominees range in age from early twenties to sixtysomething. At least one of them didn’t come as a surprise to the person compiling the list.

"It's kind of funny because it's long been said that Jeff Baron is the sexiest man in Bermuda. I've heard that a lot so I'm not surprised that he was a top runner but Ardon [Heyliger] is just so humble. He does so much within the community of St George's. He's very creative. He actually helped paint the mural on St George's Cricket Club; every year he makes kites for the kids to decorate – and he's been doing this since he was like ten years old. So he really deserves it."

It is too late to nominate but voting for Bermuda's most handsome man is open through Christmas Eve. Reis Van Putten, pictured, holds the number three spot (Photograph supplied)

Many of the other nominees are equally as humble, said the organiser, who is now following all of them on social media.

"The question always comes in: who thought to nominate me? Some of the guys posted on their social media pages how they're really humbled and surprised and grateful to be on the list. There are a few of them who wish they had different pictures up …. but it's all in good fun."

Only three of the seventy-odd men nominated asked to be taken off the list.

"One was actually very angry that he was nominated; two of them they said they don’t need to be on the list, they don’t need that confirmation; within themselves they know they're good looking so they just didn’t want to be a part of it."

Nominations have closed but it is not too late to vote for Bermuda's most handsome man of 2022 (Photograph supplied)

The top three contenders have each received more than 400 votes; there have been more than 4,000 views since the competition went public on December 13.

"People are looking at the posts but not necessarily partaking in the exercise. [The top nominees] had well over 300 votes literally in the first night.

"There were women nominating three and four and five men at a time and, because of the layout that I used to show the nominees, it just got very exhausting trying to create it and make sure all the names were right.

"Some women were getting an attitude because I wasn’t posting their nominations quick enough. I'm just one person; they think there's a team of people doing this."

Nominations have closed but it is not too late to vote for Bermuda's most handsome man of 2022 (Photograph supplied)

Although it is a competition, the Christmas spirit is at the heart of it all.

"Lately I've been kind of on this journey to spread positive vibes. So that’s really all it is – me continuing to make people smile and just finding ways to spread cheer, especially in the wake of [Osagi Bascome's murder] last weekend.

"Originally, one of the women that made some of the nominations she was like, 'You're going to start a war. Some of these guys are married, they have girlfriends; they're going to be mad about who put their man up there.' But it was actually the very opposite where I had wives submitting their husbands or girlfriends seeing their boyfriends on the list and being completely supportive of it."

Nominations have closed but it is not too late to vote for Bermuda's most handsome man of 2022 (Photograph supplied)

The plan is to "absolutely" repeat the competition next year. A version for women is in the works; a contest for teenagers might also follow.

"We used to have pageants and stuff for kids but, with the pandemic, you don’t really hear about those things any more so this is a safe and fun way just to continue old traditions I guess.

"It's been a fast train so I was a little underprepared for everything. Next year I'm going to lead off probably closer to Thanksgiving starting the nominations to give myself a little bit of time and also to be in touch with vendors."

The hope had been to link the top prize to self-care but there just wasn’t enough time.

"These days everyone's working really hard and we’re so caught up and just trying to survive – it’s a feel-good process. So I was trying to partner with a clothing store; I was trying to find local vendors that make natural skincare products. I'm trying to promote local entities but it was so last minute, it all happened so fast. I wasn't expecting any of this really. I was thinking maybe a couple hundred people but we're well into the thousands now."

Nominations have closed but it is not too late to vote for Bermuda's most handsome man of 2022 (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda's most handsome man of 2022 will be announced on New Year's Eve. The winner will receive a gift basket from Gibbons Company and a bottle of champagne. Look for @Bermudas_most on Instagram and Twitter; @Bermudasmost on Facebook

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Published December 23, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated December 24, 2021 at 8:20 am)

Hey bie, did you make the list?

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