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Is Zimbabwe’s New ‘Mister Ugly’ Too Handsome to Wear the Crown?

Zimbabwe's annual Mr. Ugly competition got uglier than usual this year after competitors claimed the winner was too handsome.

Newly crowned "Mr Ugly" Zimbabwe, Maison Sere, poses during the "Ugliest Man" contest in Harare, Zimbabwe, on November 20, 2015. A 42-year-old unemployed man was crowned Zimbabwe's ugliest man at a pub pageant in Harare -- but the contest turned ugly when the runner-up accused judges of bias. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA        (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Newly crowned "Mr Ugly" Zimbabwe, Maison Sere, poses during the "Ugliest Man" contest in Harare, Zimbabwe, on November 20, 2015. A 42-year-old unemployed man was crowned Zimbabwe's ugliest man at a pub pageant in Harare -- but the contest turned ugly when the runner-up accused judges of bias. AFP PHOTO / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

This weekend, Zimbabwe’s newly crowned “Mister Ugly” hitched up his slouching coveralls and smiled widely as supporters poured beer over his head to celebrate the 42-year-old’s win in the country’s annual anti-beauty pageant. Mison Sere beat out 35 other entrants for the coveted title, surviving three rounds of runway modeling at a nightclub in Harare.

The purpose of the event — to look as ugly as humanly possible — is simple. The stakes are anything but: The winner takes home a grand prize of $500, roughly half the annual income in hyper-inflation wracked Zimbabwe.

This time around, though, the fourth-annual competition turned even uglier than usual, when sore losers claimed Sere simply wasn’t ugly enough to be named the winner.

Sere, whose grin shows a huge number of missing teeth, used his alarming need for orthodontia to his advantage by contorting his face to highlight his dental shortcomings. William Masvinu, who had held the title of Mr. Ugly since 2012 until this weekend, took the loss especially personally, even though his long reign over the title was due in part to the fact last year’s competition was canceled over funding issues.

“I am naturally ugly. He is not,” Masvinu said after the results were announced. “He is ugly only when he opens his mouth.” And Masvinu, who was a runner-up, wasn’t the only one who thought the judges should have looked past Sere’s teeth to recognize that with his mouth shut, he doesn’t look that bad at all.

Another contestant, Patrick Mupereki, suggested that Sere’s decaying teeth gave him an unfair advantage.

“Do we have to lose our teeth to win? This is cheating,” he reportedly shouted after the results were announced.

But the judges who crowned Sere weren’t fazed by the losers’ complaints. In fact, one judge, university student Abigail Mataranyika, suggested that some contestants thought they were ugly enough to get away with not putting in any effort.

“Sere made tremendous effort to enhance his ugliness by pulling facial stunts,” she said. “Masvinu thought he is so ugly that he didn’t need to try hard. That cost him the crown.”

Masvinu refused to acknowledge his loss, shouting after the event that he is still number one and that participants “need to redo the whole thing.”

Sere, on the other hand, said it was time for the losers to move on.

“They should just accept that I am uglier than them,” he said. “I hope to get a TV contract. I already moved around schools performing and showcasing my ugliness so this is a chance to make it on TV.”

Ironically, this is the second time in less than a year that Zimbabweans have been disappointed by the results of a pageant. Last time, though, critics had the opposite problem: They claimed Emily Kachote, winner of the Miss Zimbabwe beauty competition, wasn’t pretty enough for the crown.

And in the end, they got their way. Kachote, just like her predecessor, was forced to cede her title after nude images were publicly leaked.

Photo Credit: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

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