HARARE, Zimbabwe - The latest winner of Zimbabwe's Mr. Ugly pageant has ambitions of fame and fortune. But, so far, he remains a simple market porter.
William Masvinu, 38, who won the second edition of the pageant last month, makes his living carrying loads for shoppers in a market in the impoverished western Harare township of Mbare. The victory has made him a local celebrity, but the modeling offers he thought he'd be getting aren't yet pouring in.
"I was expecting to do some adverts and some modeling if I was asked. But I'm still poor, still carrying loads of cabbages onto buses," he said.
"I am ready to show the world my gift," he said. "Being ugly is not a curse. It's a gift God gave me and I'm proud of it. My face makes me special and I am not making any excuses about it."
Organizers say they started the pageant as a novel way to entertain audiences. Zimbabwe already has a host of conventional beauty contests.
Masvinu beat four other ugly men to land the title, $100 in cash and a night at a hotel. Masvinu said he cashed in the hotel voucher to buy food.
"It didn't make sense to sleep in a nice hotel on an empty stomach," he said.
Masvinu said he has long lived with being shunned, even by his own family.
"My mother died when I was three and no one wanted to take care of me or send me to school because of my looks," he said.
Before he reached his teens, he was herding cattle in southern Zimbabwe. Masvinu said when he went out hunting for a regular job, it wasn't easy.
"Whenever employers open the door and see me, they go, 'Ahh,' and shut it," he said.
When he smiles, it looks like he is crying or in pain, his fans say. His wife, Alice Chabhanga, isn't concerned about his looks.
At his side in the market, Chabhanga said she was drawn to Masvinu because of his kindness, cheerfulness and humor in the hardest of times.
"She was the only one who wanted me and she knows she has no competition," Masvinu said.