Nearly 300 people submitted applications for the coveted part-time summer positions. From that pool, only 57 received invitations to try out in person on Presidents Day weekend.
Incumbent presidents have no electoral advantage. Even veterans have to re-audition each year.
The extensive screening included panel interviews plus a range of skills tests which are done in-costume. “We are looking for people who are ready to have a good time,” said Nationals Entertainment Manager Tom Davis, but the day is also designed to weed out those who lack the speed, strength, and stamina to do it in a 45-pound costume.
“It’s like having a big hiking book bag on your back with a few cases of beer sitting on your shoulders,” said one contestant from Bethesda.
Applicants took turns donning the giant costumes, then completing a 40-yard dash followed by two back-to-back presidents races. Candidates were then immediately asked to show off their dance moves and strike a victory pose.
Participants got to choose which costume they wanted to wear, with a notable exception. Teddy Roosevelt has never attended the annual auditions.
“Teddy takes a vacation every year right around presidents day weekend,” said Davis. “I got a postcard from Teddy in Barbados.”
In keeping with tradition, the racing presidents packed up and hit the road to New York, where they will appear Monday during the annual New York Islanders Presidents Day hockey game at Nassau Coliseum.
The presidents will then go into hiatus as the newest batch of presidents prepare for opening day.
Full video report below.
Thanks to espnW’s Amanda Rykoff for sharing her footage of Abe’s tumble.