The Most Awesome State Quarter Tournament

In 2008, I ran a Final Four style tournament on the late, great RiffTrax Blog to determine which State Quarter was the most awesome. Since the blog it was published on is no longer updated, I was worried it might eventually get taken down, so here is the entire contest reprinted in one post.

2008 is already old news to many of you, but there are still many great things to look forward to this year. It’s a leap year for one. And the Olympics are always fun. (The universe may come to an end on May 20th, but who’s counting?)


150px 2006 Quarter Proof

But the truly exciting thing about 2008 is that it marks the final year of the US Mint’s State Quarters program, which has been the single greatest reason to get change since my senior year of high school. We’ve had a great run thru the various designs each state has picked to represent itself, and frankly, I’m sad to see it go. After this year, never again will you have the thrill of receiving a quarter back from the vending machine, glancing at it and remarking to yourself, “Huh…Remind me never to go there.”

After the final 5 designs were announced, I decided it was time to crown the true king of State Quarters. The only way to do this, obviously, is through a Final Four style bracket. Fifty coins enter, one emerges the victor and can claim the title of “Most Awesome State Quarter!”

Here’s how it works. I considered dividing up the entrants into regions based on themes. Animals (Kansas), People (Alabama), Boasting About Your State (North Carolina),and Miscellaneous (Wisconsin). But I decided that to do so would take a lot of the fun of unexpected matchups out of the picture. I decided to pick names out of a hat and fill in the first 50 seeds of a 64 seed bracket based on the order they were drawn. This might make for some lopsided first round matchups, but it could also result in some fun designs going head to head. Because of the uneven nature of 50, some quarters received first round byes. The criteria for victory will be decided soley upon which quarter I think is better, it has nothing to do with the quality of the state (rest easy New Jersey.) Nothing is decided ahead of time, anything can happen!

The bracket is presented below. Action in the first region will begin soon. I hope you’ll join me on: THE ROAD TO THE MOST AWESOME STATE QUARTER!


State Quarters Bracket

Click for a bigger look, or right click and save

The State Quarter page on wikipedia offers the easiest layout, best image quality and an obscene amount of random information about them (go figure)


Most Awesome State Quarter – Arnold Regional Round 1

Arnold Regional

Let’s get right to it. Our first matchup:

wisconsin vs tennessee

Tennessee’s quarter has a lot going for it. Emphasizing musical heritage, rather than a historical event or a the natural beauty of a state landmark, shows a focus on the arts and the abstract that is lacking from many state quarters. Unfortunately, it is up against Wisconsin, which is the state quarter equivalent of Salvador Dali. It greets us with a “Godfather” style disembodied cow head, an ear of corn, and a giant, pac-man shaped wheel of cheese. The only explanation it offers is the banner with a single word: “Forward.” Yes, Wisconsin State Quarter, it appears that you would be hard pressed to find another direction to go.

Winner: Wisconsin – for the mind blowing abstractness of the whole thing

virginia vs oregon

Oregon’s quarter focuses on what appears to be approximately 1/1000th of the great Crater Lake. It’s a simple design, with much of it being taken up by the water of the lake. I’m sure the Crater Lake is a great sight (the entrance to it was closed when I drove by), but the quarter doesn’t convey it too well. Fortunately for Oregon, it is up against Virginia, the only state with a made-up word on their state quarter. The Jamestown “Quadricentennial” took place last year. Virginia decided to start hyping this event around the turn of the millenium, with custom license plates in addition to the state quarter. How far off could it have been for them to still put it on the quarter? 10 years? 20? Why not just invent a word for five hundred year anniversary and advertise the celebration in 2107?

Winner: Oregon – For maintaining composure against an unstable opponent

kentucky vs pennsylvania

Pennsylvania was just the second state quarter issued, so to their credit, it’s quite possible that nobody told them that they were allowed to make them interesting. It lists a few words, (which I believe are lifted directly from the Boy Scout Law), slaps the Columbia Pictures logo front and center and tosses in trademark keystone, all over a background of the outline of the state. *SNORE* Kentucky, on the other hand, has an ex-derby champ out to stud. The horse actually appears to be speaking “My Old Kentucky Home.” I feel like if they could have wedged another “Kentucky” mention somewhere on the picket fence, they would have. You can almost taste the mint julep.

Winner: Kentucky -Anthropomorphic animals always beat a state seal (unless the seal in question is anthropomorphic and balancing a ball on his nose)

florida vs louisiana

Both of these state quarters utilize the hodgepodge method, albeit a bit less surreally than Wisconsin. The thinking seemed to be this: Throw a bunch of stuff on the quarter, that way you don’t put all your eggs in one basket in case the rest of the country turns out to hate the one thing you choose. Florida goes with a space shuttle, an explorers ship and a beach. Louisiana picks a Pelican, a trumpet and the outline of the Louisiana purchase. On the surface, it seems like a toss up. But the trumpet is emitting musical notes – a cartoony touch. The massive area of the Louisiana purchase is accompanied by the descriptive text “Louisiana Purchase,” as if to reiterate “Yeah, that was us.” The Pelican is thinking it. Just look at him.

Winner: Louisiana – Florida’s has a bunch of stuff that other states could have. Louisiana has a bunch of awesome stuff that other states would love to have.

utah vs illinois

Utah has an uncharacteristically suggestive state quarter. Rumor has it that originally the quarter was supposed to just say “Crossroads” and have a picture of three girls in a convertible singing Shania Twain. Illinois on the other hand, gives the people what they want. #16. Presented larger than life, he seems to be saying “Yeah Utah? You think that’s a big spike? Come on over here and Abe’ll show you how to split a rail.” The urban/agriculture contrast is a classy touch, and though the 21st state/century gimmick doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, Illinois knows they have a winner with Lincoln and cast their lot behind him.

Winner: Illinois – Utah, your two trains are butting heads. They’ll never make any progress that way. You need a strong presence to help sort out their differences and get things running smoothly again. Illinois, maybe you have someone who could help?

Arnold Regional Round 1

Some hard fought battles in round one of the Arnold Regional. Any travesties of justice in our opinion? Any round 2 matchups you look forward to? Will the states who had byes be up to the challege of their road tested opponents? How do you think the winners could have improved their state quarters? We shall see soon enough!

Most Awesome State Quarter – McConaughey Regional Round 1

We continue the Road to the Most Awesome state Quarter with Round 1 of the McConaughey Regional. Need to catch up? Click here


McConaughey Regional Round 1



wyoming vs georgia

Two contrasting state quarters from the beginning and the end of the project demonstrate the evolution of the state quarter. Georgia’s quarter, the fourth one released, looks very old school. The laurel wreath, the positive words, the outline of the state all show that the designers believed they were creating a state seal, which to the best of my knowledge, Georgia, as well as every other state, already has. The giant peach would be much better served if it was the only object on the quarter, was made 150% larger, and had little flattened specks of Aunties Sponge and Spiker on the bottom of it. Contrast the quarter to Wyomings, whose detail-less chrome cowboy appears to be the male counterpart to the infamousmudflap girl. Adorning Wyoming’s license plates with the same image gives the state an edge with branding, and also gives every bronco riding cowboy a chance to claim that they were the original model for the logo.

Winner: Wyoming – Sorry Georgia, we really love your peaches, but draw the line at shaking your tree.


texas vs new york

Two titans face off in a mega-first round battle. Both put in textured versions of their states along with one stand out object and a slogan. Texas’ Lone Star is placed very nicely on top of the instantly recognizable state outline, though I question the legislature’s decision to swap out the design of Ozzy Osbourne taking a leak on the Alamo at the last moment. That would have gotten the kids interested in coin collecting! New York’s quarter is also quite nice. The Statue of Liberty looks great, as always, and “Gateway to Freedom” emphasizes the feeling many people had upon seeing her for the first time. And you know what? I think that it’s great that New York City was issued its own quarter! I have a blast every time I go there. But it’s inappropriate to consider it for victory in a state quarter contest.

Winner: Texas – By emphasizing the state, it presents a more united front than the big dog from the east



ohio vs nevada

Nevada, which is evidently The Silver State, stumbles badly with their quarter design. When the first thing that springs to your mind upon viewing a state quarter is “Hey, that reminds me of the cover of that Poco album that there were always four copies of for 99 cents in the used vinyl section of the record store in college”, you have problems. It looks like a shirt that Napoleon Dynamite might wear. It’s quite possible that Nevada just took an old Lisa Frank trapper keeper design, erased the horns off of the unicorns, and slapped it on the quarter. It’s terrible. Fortunately for Nevada, it’s going up against Ohio. Evidently, someone called Ohio’s bluff on the “Birthplace of Aviation” claim they’ve been trotting out on license plates for years and they were forced to add the “pioneers” clarification to the quarter. This is because Kitty Hawk, North Carolina is the birthplace of aviation. Everyone knows this. That’s where the first flight took place. So Ohio’s quarter has the dubious distinction of being the only quarter to include spin on a false claim. Besides, any list of aviation pioneers that does not include Ham the Chimp is just plain incomplete.

Winner: Nevada – Let’s just move on before I start to get really angry


maine vs hawaii

Most people are used to seeing Hawaii enclosed in a square, on the bottom left corner of their map of the US. If you can get over the shock of seeing it in a circle, you are treated to one of the most unique state quarters. Words that you can’t understand, and a rendering of the islands that make them look downright tiny compared to the colussus towering over them. I’m not proud of the fact that as far as I know, that could be either the most important political figure in the history of Hawaii or just a beloved local eccentric who poses for pictures with tourists outside of the Club Med. But the mystery is alluring. Maine on the other hand is located up on the exact opposite corner of your US Map placemat. The quarter, though unremarkable, does present its state in a flattering light. It looks like if you wanted to get away from it all, get some reading or writing done, do some sailing, and get the definitive word on whether or not you can indeed get to there from here, Maine would be your place to do it.

Winner: Hawaii – The serene beauty of Maine is dwarfed by the colossus of Hawaii and his mysterious message

McConaughey Regional Round 1

Most Awesome State Quarter – Keanu Regional Round 1

Guest written by Bill Corbett

Hey hey hey, fan(s?) of U.S. state quarters! Corbett here, ready to guest-judge the next bunch of jingly little contenders. NOTE: My decisions are final, and any questions or appeals will be met with immediate death by disembowelment for I AM CALIGULA OF THE BLOGS!

…Wow, I really do have trouble handling power. Give me a second, gotta breathe into this brown paper bag.


Ah! I’m back, full of healthy, delusion-shattering oxygen and ready to continue on this Road to the Most Awesome state Quarter. Today is Round 1 of the Keanu Regional. (Need to catch up? Click here.)


“Dude, Rifftrax totally named a quarter after me!…or something.”

Keanu regional round 1

And away we go…

alaska vs maryland

This one’s a cinch, because it falls under my first rule of state quarter judging: I will always vote for the state quarter with the large attacking animal on it. Alaska’s bear is already snacking on a 10-lb. salmon, but he wants to eat us, too. The only drawback is that he’s not trying to chomp on Sir Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, which would make for a more realistic nature scene.

As for Maryland… it’s nice that you have a building. Somewhere. And “the Old Line State?” Could you at least be a three-dimensional geometric figure? It’s hard to be less committal than a “line,” except as it pertains to a unit of cocaine blowage, perhaps. But I don’t think that’s what your line refers to. I think it’s actually just a quick streak of # 2 pencil on looseleaf, isn’t it? That’s what you named your state after. Didn’t you?!

(Aw cripes, Maryland’s crying. Sorry.)

WINNER: Alaska. Seward’s revenge!!

arkansas vs mississippi

There’s an upsetting lack of large attacking mammals in both of these state quarters, so I’m tempted to penalize them both and just call this one a lose-lose. On closer inspection, though…

Arkansas is freaking me out, man. Is the giant floating diamond really there? IS it a giant diamond, or is it the crystalline mothership of a Razorbacks-loving alien race, hiding and hovering over Lake Sequoyah until today’s game against the Crimson Tide starts? Is it wrong that I keep singing to myself “Goosey in the Sky with Diamonds…”? Yes, of course it is, it’s a godawful *$%&#ing pun…But it feels so right…! Wheeeeeeee!

Erm…right. Hi, Mississippi. You have a lovely flower, there. And a lovely slogan, named after the (yawn) same lovely flower. But your whole brand isn’t challenging my sense of reality nearly enough, Mississippi. I don’t drink or do drugs anymore, so I need little mind-kicking pleasures like those offered by the Arkansas state quarter. Yes, Arkansas is freaking me out, man….but in a good way.

WINNER: Arkansas. For letting its freak flag fly.

iowa vs new jersey

Pretty straightforward. We have “George Washington crossing the Delaware” for New Jersey vs. Iowa’s pathetic plea to be given some wood. Dear God, have they no decency? No trees, for that matter? Sack up, Iowa, get your own damned lumber, and design a quarter that’s does more than beg for building materials. I know you’re trying to tug at our heartstrings by showing the tiny building where most of you live, but —

O.K. My wife tells me that Iowa’s picture is actually a tribute to one of its native sons, artist Grant Wood, who painted “American Gothic” and other classics. I guess I owe Iowa an apology.

…But not a victory! N.J. edges ahead at the finish line because it depicts a truly historical event: the only time anyone risked their lives to get into New Jersey.

WINNER: New Jersey. For not depicting the birthplace of Bon Jovi.

arizona vs Rhode Island

Both of these quarters could benefit from some of Alaska’s moxie, and include a charging beast of some sort… But I’ll try to let that go. (Sigh.)

These two coins force a humble, well-meaning judge to choose between different topographies more than anything else. And since I loved visiting the Grand Canyon — it was one of those rare things that surpass its hype — and I always pine for the ocean, across which my people in the Undying Lands (a.k.a. Brooklyn) wait for me… hell, I don’t know where to go with this. If only some smart denizen of Flagstaff, or some slick operator from Woonsocket, had found it in their hearts to bribe me yesterday…

WINNER: Um, Arizona. For reminding us that we revolve around the sun. Rhode Island’s wholesale denial that the sun exists is legendary, and shouldn’t be rewarded.

michigan vs idaho

Ah, that’s more like it! The gargantuan Peregrine Falcon is about to swallow Idaho, potatoes and all. It’s beautiful, it’s gritty, it’s honest and real, man… and it’s everything a state quarter should be. Even if the Peregrine Falcon had Sir Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin hanging out of its huge beak, half-eaten already, I don’t know if I could love it more. (Though that would be awesome.)

I have nothing but contempt for Michigan’s LIE of a quarter, acting as if the state could never be hunted down by a moon-sized raptor, seized up in its brobdingnagian talons, and rended to pieces within a matter of seconds. This state quarter says: “Giant falcons cannot harm us here in Michigan! I guarantee it.” That’s a damned careless attitude in this day and age, Wolverine State. It’s not bad enough that you’ve always pretended that the U.P. is safe and habitable for humans, now you want to go even further spreading your cloud-cuckoo LIES and assert invulnerability to colossal birds of prey. Shame on you, Michigan.

WINNER: Idaho. For telling the unflinching truth about impossibly big raptors.


CONGRATULATIONS to Alaska, Arkansas, New Jersey, Arizona, and Idaho. You have bested your opponents, and now move on to fight mightier two-bit gladiators.

[NOTE: Conor will update later with cool-looking updated Keanu bracket. I’m emotionally exhausted from this competition, and need to soak my head in brine.]

Keanu regional round 1

Most Awsome State Quarter – Swayze Regional Round 1

Guest written by Kevin Murphy

Welcome coinfans, here we go with more tails-to-tails first-round competition on the road to the title of America’s Most Awesome State Quarter! You can catch up with all the action at Quarter Central, but the Swayze Region boasts such juggernauts of jing, I’ll go out on a limb and say that whoever survives this numismatic brawl will dominate from here on in! Here we go:


Swayze Regional

CA winner vs WV winner

California comes ready to play some coin with a three-pronged attack, and proves the adage that if you’re gonna boast about your state, first have something to boast about, and second have a backup. Boom! John Muir, the hoary misanthropic envirophile is hard to top, but then – Boom! we’ve got Half Dome, one of the crown jewels of Yosemite, daring coin-thumbers to climb, for a better view of – Boom! The California Condor, the Randy Johnson of state birds, ugly as a custard apple but unbeatable in straight-up competition. But now what does West Virginia bring? A bridge?! You have got to be kidding me! Every state in the union has a bridge – hell, Arizona has London Bridge but they’re not crazy enough to put it on their quarter! West Virginia, stumbling out of the gate with a weak boast, and a confusing one at that. What’s supposed to catch our eye, the gorge or the bridge? I hate to see a state stumble like this, but what are ya gonna do.

Winner: California, walking away.

CT winner vs MA winner

On to a classic New England matchup. Our fifth state, Connecticut, makes an unusual move – A Tree? But wait, this is no prissy Vermont Sugar Maple, my friends, this is the legendary Charter Oak, the only tree to take part in the founding of our nation, concealing as it did the precious Connecticut Charter from the clutches of the British. Don’t know about it? Jeeminee, crack a book, people! Now Massachusetts, State Number Six, brings it to it with the iconic Minuteman – Wow! You gotta be impressed! Not only do they hold back their star power – Your Paul Reveres, your Sam Adamses – but they lead with the icon, the legend, the first American foot soldier. Folks, this bench has depth, this is a quarter with confidence, and it’s the only quarter to carry a gun. Yeah, I’m going back, to Massachusetts!

Winner: Massachusetts, by a rifle-length.

NH winner vs OK winner

One of the most unlikely pairings you’ll see in this round, and not surprisingly, it’s a real letdown on both ends. New Hampshire pretty much blows it with its depiction of their traditional tourist trap The Old Man in the Mountain. It’s a natural formation that’s supposed to look like an old man – me, I say it looks like an old lady. I once bought a potato that looked like Walter Cronkite, but did I run to put it on a coin? NH wastes its strongest card, the undisputed Most Awesome State Motto: “Live Free or Die.” But just when you think it can’t get worse, along comes Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s a dream-team of images – the great displaced Indian nations, massive cattle drives, Conestoga wagons, the land run, and above all, America’s favorite beverage – oil! So does this big brawny state choose? A bird. But not an eagle or a hawk, it’s the Scissortail Flycathcher. And what bold motto do they bring in to save themselves? “1907.” It’s enough to want to send this quarter-back down to the dimes.

Winner: New Hampshire. Enjoy it, Old Man, it’s your last victory.

MT winner vs NC winner

Now here’s a match worth seeing! David and Goliath slug it out in a battle that pits boasting, natural beauty and actual accomplishment against one another. North Carolina, the Barbecue State, is one of the teams to beat in this entire competition, and they walk it like they talk it with the Wright Brothers’ first flight, a claim that no other state can step up to. First car? who cares? First balloon? that was in France. The first airplane speaks for itself, takes on all comers, steps up on the mountain and says “knock me down!” But young Montana’s no slouch, and this big lumbering state might move slow but it moves with grace and dignity – cattle skull hovering over the Bridger Mountains puts me to mind of beef and skiing, two of my favorite pastimes. It’s a strong showing, but is it enough? Montana’s youth and inexperience as a state pose a liability, and no matter what your resources in this competition, going up against the first airplane is gonna cause injuries early in the rounds. Montana shows dignity, rising above its Hannah’s and fast-food sandwich brand namesakes.

Winner: North Carolina, but a tip of the coin to Montana. Maybe next century, Big Fella.

Wow. Some true titans of coinage today, and the weak cheese has been blasted out of the arena. Watch your back, Indiana and Nebraska, best you come ready to play.


Swayze Regional Round 1

Most Awesome State Quarter – Arnold Region Round 2

After a thrilling first round that put the ho-hum super bowl to shame, there is nowhere to go for the Most Awesome State Quarter competition but up! Expect great things from round 2, which due to the odd number of states in our union (let’s get 14 more added before we run this again, guys), features a whole bunch of quarters we haven’t even seen yet.

For a breakdown of all the action so far, click here for the detailed breakdowns, region by region or here for the complete bracket after Round 1.

Arnold Regional Round 1

washington vs wisconsin

Dark horse Wisconsin pairs off against Washington, who received a first round bye. Seriously, this Wisconsin quarter…If the Wisconsin chamber of commerce thinks that this thing would not sell slapped on just about anything that can be worn or used ironically, I beg them to think again. T-shirts, temporary tattoos, boxers, shot glasses, signs instructing you which way to proceed through a given area…Make ’em all! Washington’s state quarter contains no irony, but the design clearly indicates the daily fear that Washingtonians live with that another eruption of Mount St. Helen’s will awake a huge, fearsome Godzilla-fish from the depths of the Puget Sound that will proceed to flop and gasp all over their great state. The Washington Chamber of Commerce in turn should sell little stickers of lasers or flames that you could stick coming out of the fishes eyes or mouth.

Winner: Washington – Few things are more awesome than a huge, fearsome Godzilla-fish

oregon vs kentucky

Two entries that moved on from the first round despite their very apparent second tier status. Compared to other Pacific Northwest states that feature a body of water on their state quarter that we’ve seen *ahem* recently, Oregon’s seems positively boring. The Crater Lake is now seen for what it truly is – just another place for your hackey sack to get lost in. Kentucky’s quarter features a talking horse, (note the quotes.) A talking horse doesn’t make for a visually impressive quarter, but neither does a huge lake WITHOUT ANY GIANT MUTANT FISH LEAPING OUT OF IT.

Winner: Kentucky – It had been 35 years. America was ready for another talking horse.

kansas vs louisiana

Louisiana and its “We’re pretty much the 1/3 of the country” quarter goes up for the first time against one of the states it lays claim to, Kansas. Kansas counters with the immovable object, the bison, or “Land Water Buffalo.” Bison have enjoyed quite a bit of resurgence in the public eye lately, mainly due to the fact that you can now purchase and eat them at many fine establishments, and in my mind, this only adds to their allure. The bison is a huge animal that used to roam in enormous herds over vast regions of our entire country. Then we nearly wiped them out, but they’ve climbed back to the point where you can easily obtain them in either patty or jerky form. That truly is an American success story.

Winner: Kansas – All kidding aside, during my move out to California, every time we saw a Bison was one of the highlights of the trip. They’re awesome.

illinois vs new mexico

The Land of Lincoln vs the Land of Enchantment! Our 16th President doth bestride his narrow state like a colossus, and also he was in Bill and Ted. New Mexico has…a pattern! Bear with me for a second. Imagine that that pattern is removed from the New Mexico State Quarter. The quarter now bears a topographic outline of a mostly rectangular state next to the words “Land of Enchantment.” The enchantment is where exactly? When you add the pattern back in, does that represent enough enchantment on its own to atone for the lack of enchantment on the rest of the quarter? Don’t tell me you’re the Land of Enchantment and then offer up a bland quarter! (Note: Were the quarters available in color, New Mexico would be a huge favorite. They have my favorite state flag of all time, an exciting burst of color in a sea of blandness and uniformity. Here is a picture of me wearing it in a Las Vegas hotel room.)

Winner: Illinois – Lincoln wasn’t necessarily the most enchanting man himself, (especially up close), but wins out after New Mexico fails to deliver.

Arnold Regional Round 2

Most Awesome State Quarter – Swayze Regional Round 2

Swayze Regional Round 1

Indiana vs CA winner

The Brickyard meets the great outdoors in this round two matchup. Indiana boasts about the Indy 500. You are probably thinking, “The Indy 500? The crown jewel of a niche sport which has recently been completely regulated to minor league status by Nascar?” But hold on a second, because I have thoroughly researched the matter and it turns out that a long time ago, Indy Car racing actually used to be something that people did indeed care about! I know, go figure! The “Crossroads of America” claim doesn’t necessarily have a positive connotation, nor is it verifiable. The fact that Utah’s quarter is currently billing itself as “Crossroads of the West” means that an unintentionally hilarious “Ohio vs North Carolina” style feud on our hands, but in actuality it is more like “Ohio vs Ohio” wherein both states lose.

Winner – California, aka the “Destination in ‘Crossroads'”, towers over the Indy car

MA winner vs South Dakota

In a completely unexpected maneuver, South Dakota sticks Mt. Rushmore on their quarter. Yes, Mt. Rushmore, the majestic monument to the 4th inning President Races at Washington Nationals games, (Go Teddy!), finally gets some much needed recognition. Unfortunately, the wheat and pheasant lobbies weasel in representation for their own interests (wheat and pheasants, respectively) and the monument looks smooshed when it should be taking up the whole quarter. It appears to be a classic example of design by committee, and the quarter suffers for it. South Dakota glorifys four men, three of which never came anywhere near the Black Hills, whereas Massachusetts features the anonymous Minuteman, who could be a hero, could be a nobody or could be the great great great grandfather of the guy who made your girlfriend cry because she had the nerve to wear a Yankees hat to the movies that one time.

Winner: Massachusetts – If you have a gun, you are the committee

Colorado vs NH winner

Cue up “Mississippi Queen”, we’ve got a Mountain vs Mountain showdown! New Hampshire pits the Old Man of the Mountain Pile of Rubble against the majesty of America’s Mountains, The Rockies. At least, that’s what I assume is on the Colorado quarter. If it didn’t tell me these were in Colorado, I might assume that they were, I dunno, Blue Ridge Mountains, or Great Smokey mountains or even *gasp* The Canadian Rockies! Unless there is a tiny baseball team going on a magical playoff run and then hitting a brick wall of failure during the World Series somewhere in the corner, it doesn’t seem uniquely Colorado. And let’s talk about your state mottoes. “Live Free or Die” speaks for itself, a relic of an era where that decision had to be made and enforced every day. “Colorful Colorado” sounds like something that a third grade class petitioned the legislature to adopt as a motto. Hey third graders! Tack a threat onto your motto next time! Or die!

Winner: New Hampshire – A shocking victory for the former man of the mountain, but Colorado had too much time off with the first round bye, and couldn’t play at the lower altitude

NC winner vs Nebraska

With the entire country rallying behind them as the true Birthplace of Aviation, North Carolina seems like the team of destiny. But they didn’t count on Nebraska coming along and stirring up warm, nostalgic Apple II/GS memories. Yes, Nebraska’s state quarter is the only one to pander to the audience who grew up playing Oregon Trail on a classroom computer. The quarter scene is directly taken from one of the cut scenes in the game that you rapidly pressed the space bar to get past so you could go and hunt more animals. Bonus points because all that is missing from the cartoony sun is its two scoops of raisins. It’s distinct looking, as opposed to North Carolina’s by the numbers “early State Quarter” design. “North by Northwest” homage or not, it still isn’t very interesting to look at.

Winner: Nebraska – In an epic battle reminiscent of Villanova/Georgetown, Nebraska hits 15/16 of its second half shots to advance over a worthy foe from North Carolina

Swayze Regional Round 2

Most Awesome State Quarter – Keanu Regional Round 2

Keanu regional round 1

delaware vs alaska

Due to an error at the mint, Delaware’s State Quarter only has the first three words of its motto printed. It is supposed to read “The First State to make up a historical figure to put on our quarter.” “Caesar Rodney”? Really? I’ll come right out and say that I remember a good deal of elementary and middle school history classes, have read My Brother Sam is Dead and half of Johnny Tremain and have also driven through Delaware at 85 miles and hour at least four dozen times, and I had never heard of this Caesar character until this quarter came out in 1999. The fact that this was the first quarter people had seen since 1976 that did not feature a big Eagle on the back of it made it all the more jarring when it was initially released. We all acknowledge that American currency is among the most boring in the world, but few of us were willing to accept that the way to jazz it up was to slap fictional characters on it. Caesar Rodney sounds like the made up name of a Jobber in the WWE, and going up against the Huge Bear Juggernaut of Alaska is the equivalent of a Jobber vs Hulk Hogan matchup.

Winner: Alaska – In the most lopsided match-up to date

arkansas vs minnesota

The battle between Arkansas and Minnesota resembles the scene in that movie where the character is forced to fight a copy of himself…What was that movie…Well, I can’t remember what movie that was in, probably dozens of them. I know it happens in “The Legend of Zelda” all the time. The point is, the quarters are virtually identical. Waterfowl, water upon which to fowl, scenic trees surrounding the water, which presumably provide some sort of respite from the water when the fowl so desires it…To differentiate the two, Minnesota’s has your standard state outline/motto combo, as well as some fishermen enjoying 1/10,000 of Minnesotas bounty of lakes, and Arkansas has the previously mentioned giant floating diamond. Rumor has it that sales of Land o’ Lakes butter soared after the Minnesota quarter came out, but ironically, only in Arkansas.

Winner: Arkansas – The touch of Surreal Bling makes Arkansas stand out in an otherwise evenly matched (and boring) contest

new jersey vs arizona

The glory of America’s natural resources go head to head with our tendency to kick some ass if necessary. New Jersey’s quarter is of course a representation of Emanuel Leutze’s painting of Washington crossing the Delaware into New Jersey, which is itself a tribute to this Gary Larson cartoon. Word is Washington had traveled into Delaware to try to track down Caesar Rodney, who owed him money, but he soon realized he was just some fake name that the Hessians made up, so he sailed back across the river to attack them. New Jersey unfortunately succumbs to the popular “Crossroads” meme that plagues 6% of all State Quarters, but it’s not as bad because A) they were the first ones to do it and B) it is much easier to pinpoint the crossroads of a revolution, aka the turning point, than it is “America” or “The West”. Arizona’s quarter pays tribute to an awe inspiring scene of natural beauty. But it looks like it could just be another tourist photo of the canyon, hurridly taken in a fit of rage while your kids refuse to stop playing Game Boy and get out of the car.

Winner: New Jersey – Sticking a Washington on both sides of a quarter is bold. Paying tribute to a major historical act and a work of art on the same quarter is classy. Bold + Classy = Winner.

idaho vs north dakota

Idaho’s giant bird of prey faces off with the kings of the great plains, the bison. It’s a tough call. The deadening gaze of Idaho’s falcon is quite intimidating. But to me, there’s an undeniable appeal in creating a backstory for the North Dakota quarter:

[Ring Ring. Governor of North Dakota picks up phone.]

Aide: Mr. Governor Sir! Have you mailed those proofs for the state quarter off to the mint yet?
Governor: I was just about to sign them. What’s the matter?
Aide: I’m sending over an email sir. It’s Kansas…You better take a look at it.
Governor: Son of bitch…A buffalo!
Aide: Technically, it’s a bison sir.
Governor: Does the public know about this? How long has this been out?
Aide: It came out last year sir.
Governor: Well our design is worthless now. We can’t put out another quarter with a buffalo on it. If we have a copycat state quarter, people will mock our state and nobody will want to live here! And there’s not enough time to redesign it!
Aide: Sir, if you’ll indulge me for just a second, I have an idea how we might be able to save the quarter.
Governor: Dammit Aide! Tell me quickly!
Aide: Well sir, Kansas’ quarter has one bison…
Governor: Go on…
Aide: If we were to maybe put two bison on our quarter…It would be better than having just ONE bison
Governor: You magnificent bastard… You’ve saved North Dakota’s state quarter! And maybe one of the Buffalo could be holding up a sign that says “Screw Kansas!”
Aide: I would advise against that sir, it may be perceived as deeply offensive.
Governor: Very well. Nobody will be able to misinterpret this “Buffalo doubling” gesture anyways.
Aide: Bison sir.

Winner: North Dakota – The closest a state quarter has come to a declaration of war

Keanu Regional Round 2

Minnesota State Quarter Scandal

After a rather excessive amount of moaning concerning Minnesota’s loss to Arkansas yesterday I did some soul searching. Had I really underrated the serene beauty of the Minnesota quarter? Was I just swayed by the allure of the giant floating space bling on Arkansas? So I did a bit more research and discovered that the bird on the Minnesota quarter is a Loon. Specifically, it is THE Loon from the Canadian dollar, aka the Loonie. And not even the same bird posing in a different manner, say a classy “wings raised as it prepares to take off in majestic flight” No, it is the exact same image of the exact same loon. Either there’s a lack of originality that comes from a shared border, or a more sinister plot to get everyone confused and clog our toll booths and vending machines with Canadian dollars.

Minnesota Loonie

So, Minnesota’s State Quarter has a scandal on its hands. Its performance against Arkansas is stricken from the record, it is barred from all State Quarter tournaments for the remainder of the decade and loses all its scholarships. On the plus side, if it needs any advice for how to deal with the situation, it can just phone up the University of Minnesota basketball program.

Most Awesome State Quarter – McConaughey Regional Round 2

McConaughey Regional Round 1

south carolina vs wyoming

It would be difficult to find two more contrasting quarters than South Carolina and Wyoming. South Carolina employs the “Throw everything at your quarter and see what sticks” method of design, whereas Wyoming didn’t even bother to fill in the outline of their cowboy. South Carolina’s quarter is heavy on the Palm Tree…Oh, I’m sorry, that’s the Palmetto tree, which as everyone knows, is completely different. I mean, just look at how different it looks there on the quarter! It was foolish of me to confuse their staking their entire quarter on a tree that in no way could be so easily confused with the palm trees that grow like weeds out here in California and also Florida and Arizona. They’ve also got some bird, and maybe that’s a flower growing above his head, I don’t know, I don’t have a microscope handy. You know what South Carolina? Sometimes less is more. As in less crap cluttering up your state quarter means more victories in the Most Awesome State Quarter Tournament.

Winner: Wyoming – If it were possible to design an animated gif of the Wyoming horse kicking the South Carolina quarter off of the page, I would

texas vs alabama

On paper, the blind and deaf Helen Keller facing down the entire state of Texas seems to be, how to put this, a slightly unfair fight. Even if Texas were to elect a representative to face Ms. Keller, and that representative were deaf and blind as well, based on the Everything Being Bigger in Texas creed, one would be inclined to give the advantage to the Texan. But the Alabama State Quarter has a couple things going for it. One, it has Braille. Most of us only encounter Braille when our finger slips while pressing an elevator button. This classy tip of the hat to our blind citizens deserves kudos, as reading with your fingers is the type of thing that is never given enough credit as the amazing act that it is. The fact that the Braille spells out “Roll Tide” is questionable, but we’ll overlook it. Also, Alabama is one of the only states, if not the the only one, to feature a woman on their quarter. It’s quite possible that there are more bison depicted on state quarters than women, so it’s not a decision that goes unnoticed around these parts.

Winner: Alabama – A controversy breaks out when the tiebreaking vote is cast by Anne Sullivan’s great granddaughter, but the decision is upheld despite much firing of guns up in the air and yee-hawing from the Texan side of the court room

missouri vs nevada

I don’t appreciate Missouri using the tricky to pronounce word “Corps” on their Quarter when the jury is still out on how you actually pronounce the states name. I’m not familiar with the Corps of Discovery, but assume it has something to do with Louis and Clark, who appear to be navigating the river in a rubber dinghy. I’m also pretty sure that the St. Louis arch doesn’t actually span a river. (Note: while researching this, it turns out that several pilots have successfully flown planes through the arch, which gains the quarter tons of points for being one of the most foolhardy and pointless stunts I’ve ever heard of.) The Missouri Quarter also sets the record for Number of Dates included on one quarter, with four separate years getting mentioned, (not included: 2017, the year the Rams are expected to next make the playoffs.) Fortunately for Missouri, The Horses of “The Silver State” don’t look any more relevant or dignified than they did the previous round.

Winner: Missouri – Sometimes, being nice and symmetrical is all you need to do to win.

hawaii vs vermont

Vermont lays it all on the line with this quarter: “Listen, our state just makes damn good syrup.” I am inclined to agree. Real maple syrup is not to be trifled with, and quite possibly edges out fresh squeezed orange juice as having the biggest difference in quality between the real thing and the normal everyday crap that people accept instead of the real thing. There’s also some ideals, regulated to the side, freedom, unity, who can be bothered really, but Syrup! Syrup people! But then we have Hawaii, with it’s looming presence. One day, we will uncover the true meaning of the secret language on the Hawaiian quarter, as well as the identity of the giant man who watches over the islands. Until then, the mysteries prove too intriguing to vote against.

Winner: Hawaii – Tiny islands, a giant man, and surprisingly low markups on quality imported syrup.

McConaghey Regional Round 2

Arnold Regional Semi-Final

Arnold Regional Round 2

washington vs kentucky

Kentucky has made a decent run for a rather mundane quarter, based pretty much entirely on my enjoying the quirky quote marks around the phrase “My Old Kentucky Home.” Going up against the laws of perspective, however, their run is going to come to an end. We’ve all had the nightmare where The “Big Mouth Billy Bass” we were given as a gag gift eight years ago wrests free of it’s fake wood mount, grows larger than a mountain and performs a wriggling rendition of “Take me to the river” before smiting our entire state. But Washington took it upon themselves to act as the canary in the coal mine and warn everyone about the threat on their State Quarter. Even if it is just so once it happens, they can gloat and say “I told you so”, if even one person is prepared for the menace of giant singing, dancing fish, Washington’s quarter will have done its job.

Winner: Washington – You know the other song the Big Mouth Billy Bass sings? “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Think of me while you’re humming it to yourself later tonight.

kansas vs illinois


Winner: Illinois – Unless Kansas’ bison were to proclaim the superiority of San Dimas High School football, (in quote marks), he is no match for the recognizableness and impact of Lincoln, be it Hard Drinkin’ or not

Arnold Regional Semi-Final

Keanu Regional Semi-Final

Keanu Regional Round 2

alaska vs arkansas

Arkansas is confident. They remain the last of the truly “Abstract” state quarters in the running for the title. But a quarter can only get so far on its weirdness alone. At some point in time, you’re going to have to put some substance behind it. I still don’t know the story behind the Arkansas quarter, and probably never will. It’s a quarter told by an idiot, full of bling and birdies, signifying nothing. I do know that out of all the State Quarters, Alaska’s is the one most capable of frightening small children, especially if you build a live recreation of it in their Little Tykes playhouse in the backyard. They might actually enjoy a recreation of the Arkansas quarter, and nobody wants that.

Winner: Alaska – Arkansas exits, pursued by a bear

new jersey vs north dakota

Bison, for all their glory, majesty, and embodiment of the American frontier, cannot be used to make bacon. This rendered them useless to George and his merry band of patriots on the New Jersey quarter. In theory though, the New Jersey quarter is still capable of eating the North Dakota quarter, however disgustingly bacon-free it may be. When one quarter can eat the contents of another quarter, it becomes easier to pick a victor. Though North Dakota won’t move on, it hasmade its “twice as good as Kansas” status known to the rest of the nation, and that’s really all it was hoping for during this contest.

Winner: New Jersey – Those patriots on the New Jersey quarter are minutes away from killing a bunch of guys. The fact that they’re bad guys is just icing on the cake. Awesome.

Keanu Regional Semi-Final

*UPDATE* New Jersey’s victory comes despite the fact that Joey Pants, the New Jersey State Quarter’s Ashley Judd-esque superfan, was unable to attend the contest due to a conflicting meet and greet with fans: Joe and fan

He perked up after learning of the outcome via text message

McConaghey Regional Semi-Final

McConaghey Regional Round 2

wyoming vs alabama

The Equality State faces a state whose flag is patterned after the Confederate Flag. In a rather transparent effort to have us forget this fact, Alabama overcompensates with Helen Keller on its quarter, much like a disgraced politician who trots out his wife and kids on stage as he apologizes for his most recent arrest in a public restroom. If i had personally been tasked with picking an image based on two criteria, 1) The State of Alabama and 2) the motto “Spirit of Courage”, I probably would have gone with one of the several big names from the fifties & sixties that your average kindergartener/Outkast fan would be able to name, so Helen Keller feels like a hopelessly “safe” choice. But on the other hand, Wyoming’s quarter is a recycled logo and I know nothing of the history of their state. Is it really more equal than others? If it was, wouldn’t that make it more superior to the other 49 states in the capacity, thereby negating the claim and making it the Superior State?

Winner: Alabama – Both states have problems. But since we’re rating the quarter and not what it could have/should have been, Alabama’s is at least more unique.

missouri vs hawaii

Two of our finest states whose names end with “I” enter the ring, only one will leave. There’s really not much more to be said regarding Hawaii’s, unless you actually want to start researching who the guy is and what the words mean. Since Hawaii is going to beat Missouri, I feel like that’s not necessary until next round. Until then, I still wonder about the mystery man. Missouri’s quarter, though a numerologists dream, is just pretty darn average. In fact I won’t even bring up the fact that if you look at it long enough, it starts to look vaguely O’Keefeian, because it’s just really averagely suggestive. Like many of the topics on our State Quarters, and dare I say history and life in general, Lewis and Clark are really best dealt with through the medium of Far Side cartoons.

Winner: Hawaii – The newest state and unfortunately, one of the only ones with a rough draft sketch of its quarter on the US Mint site, makes the leap into the elite eight.

McConaghey Regional Semi-Final

Swayze Regional Semi-Final

Swayze Regional Round 2

CA winner vs MA winner

The Bay State vs. The State that Contains the Bay Area.  The Bay State rolls off the tongue much easier, but while we all know where the “Bay Area” is, many of us would not be able to identify The Bay State.  So the competition must come down to this:  how awesome is Massachusettses gun?  For while it is definitely sweet to but a really big gun on your state quarter, is that negated at all by the fact that it looks like the soldier holding it was modeled after a plastic army man?  I say yes.  I say that negates the awesomeness of the quarter immensely.

Winner: California – Though it may be possible to argue that the freaky, bearded John Muir may have greatly inspired Devendra Banhart, at least Mr. Muir and his scenic surroundings don’t melt into a pile of goo after 15 seconds in the microwave

Nebraska vs NH winner

These two these quarters both depict rock formations that would easily qualify as grounds for divorce without visitation rights if a parent were to make them the destination for a summer vacation. They are two “attractions” from the “stand around looking at them for a while, then go home” school of attractions.  The Nebraska quarter, in fact, depicts the first family to ever have the kids refuse to get out of the backseat of the car to go look at a monument (I tried to do this at Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace and my dad nearly pulled me out of the car through the window.)  However, one can’t help but deduct immense amounts of points for the contrasting sentiment of New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” slogan with the fact that it’s rock formation of choice now ceases to exist.

Winner: Nebraska – In the kind of victory that Charlie Brown’s baseball team would hope for every week, Chimney Rock wins by being the only one able to show up

Swayze Regional Semi-Final

Arnold Regional Final





Kevin designed some sweet commemorative medallions for the finals of the Most Awesome State Quarter contest.  Let’s tackle the hard fought Arnold Regional first.


washington.gif vs illinois.gif

The giant fish of Washington faces the man behind the greatest monument in Washington for the Arnold Regional final.  Lincoln had a renowned appetite for fish, but this fish is pretty darn big.  It’s a drawn out battle, with many points worth enumerating for both candidates, and it’s important to note that…

Wait a second…

What’s this?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Is that? Yes! It is! It’s Wisconsin’s theme music! The Wisconsin state quarter is re-entering the arena! Washington eliminated it back in round 2, but here it is again and it looks like it’s got a folding chair with it!  Washington and Illinois are busy whaling on each other, I don’t think they see it, but the crowd sure does, it’s going nuts! Wisconsin has climbed into the ring with a folding chair and…IT JUST HIT ILLINOIS OVER THE HEAD WITH A CHAIR!!! THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING!!! Washington has turned around, it’s begging Wisconsin for mercy! But Wisconsin’s got a crazed look in its eye! It keeps muttering “forward”! And IT HITS WASHINGTON WITH THE CHAIR TOO! THIS ONE IS ALL OVER! WISCONSIN COMES OUT OF NOWHERE IN A STUNNER!!!!





Wisconsin – Most Awesome State Quarter Arnold Regional Winner


Keanu Regional Final


Whoa!  The second of our four regional finals in the Most Awesome State Quarter contest is underway!


alaska.gif vs new-jersey.gif

According to the US Mint website, the unapproved alternatives for the Alaska State Quarter were: A picture of a Polar Bear with the inscription “Land of the Midnight Sun”, “Dog Musher with Denali (Mt. McKinley),” featuring a dog musher, Denali, and the Big Dipper; and “Gold Panner with Denali,” depicting a (presumably) grizzled old prospector with Denali in the background.  The only better bench I’ve ever heard of would be the 1992 Dream Team, where you had Hall of Famers like John Stockton, Clyde Drexler and David Robinson backing up Jordan and Magic.  (Also, Christian Laettner, aka The Ohio State Quarter of the Dream Team was there.)  New Jersey, though iconic, heroic and Crossroads related, gets Timothy Treadwell-ed by the gigantic bear waiting for them on the other side of the Delaware.

Winner:  Alaska.  New Jersey gets in a good shot or two, but Alaska moves on




Alaska – Most Awesome State Quarter Keanu Regional Winner


McConaughey Regional Final!



Take off your shirt, and kill the old red Rooster, it’s time for the McConaughey region Final!  Follow all the action here.

alabama.gif vs hawaii.gif

For the final round of this oft-misspelled region, I finally got around to looking up the history behind the Hawaii quarter.  The man shown here towering over the Hawaiian islands is King Kamehameha I, who was most famous for comically stammering his own name whenever he saw an attractive lady, a behavior still practiced to this day on the mainland.  Needless to say, he would have remained silent in the presence of Helen Keller.  The King’s landmark social policy was a piece of legislation which guaranteed citizens protection during times of war and was called…”The Law of the Splintered Paddle.”  I firmly believe that society would be in much better shape as a whole if the Law of the Splintered Paddle still ruled the land.  In fact, a whole series of Laws of the Splintered Paddle.  Or, maybe we could just always refer to “laws” as “Laws of the Splintered Paddle”.  “Sir, your blood alcohol level is point one four, you are in violation of Law of the Splintered Paddle #413-b.  Put your pants on and come with me.”


Hawaii – Most Awesome State Quarter McConaughey Regional Winner

 Three teams are placed in the final four, only one to go! View the complete bracket up til now right here.


Swayze Regional Final



Nobody puts state quarters in a corner!  Except for maybe the Ohio one…he was too stupid to have a good time…Anyways, it’s time for the Swayze Regional Final!  Follow all the state quarter action here!

ca_winner.gif vs nebraska.gif

Compared to some of the other regions we’ve gone thru, the Swayze regional final ends in a David Byrne moment:  How did we get here?  Two quarters which are clearly above average, but does either deserve to move on to the final four?  We’re left with a 1999 Best Picture Oscar moment:  someone has to win.  And while the winner of this region must therefore feel the deep shame of being compared to American Beauty, (whose plastic bag in the wind scene I rewatched this weekend and believe it may be worse than anything from The Happening), it’s important to look back on 1999 as a year when the mediocre shrugged its way to the top.  American Beauty beat out The Green Mile and The Sixth Sense for the Best Picture of the year, much like California and Nebraska advancing this far over the OK-but-by-no-means-great tails sides of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

What is my point?  Mainly that I wanted to see peoples justifications for why the plastic bag scene, which I posted below, does not in their opinion, blow.  And to deem the more stylized and heavy on oxen Nebraska the winner.



Nebraska – Most Awesome State Quarter Swayze Regional Winner


Final Four

State Quarters Final Four!

State Quarter DiCaprio Medal

We have entered the Final Four of Quarterdom.  Who will take home the DiCaprio Prize?  Pry your oversized mother out of the bed and roll her over to the computer, because it’s time to crown a winner (of the semi-final round.)

All previous State Quarter action can be found here!


wi_winner.gif vs hawaii.gif

Here we have a battle that ensapsulates a few of the eternal struggles that man has witnessed through history:

“Cow vs. King” exemplifies the farmer vs the ruler, rich vs poor, Potter vs Bailey, Landed Gentry vs Gentry that is just renting for another few months til the market really bottoms out.

We also have “Cheese vs. The Law of the Splintered Paddle” which actually rarely ever comes up in real life unless you’re on day 6 of a canoeing trip that was only supposed to take 3 days, you’re lost, your canoe is run aground and you and the other survivor are forced to choose between the only food left (cheese, somehow) and the only paddle, which though still intact, has begun to splinter.  If this situation ever arises, take the paddle.  It seems counterintuitive, until you realize that you can beat your companion to death with it, then take his cheese.  So, to reemphasize, take the splintered paddle.

Finally, we have “State Motto you can’t understand because it’s in a crazy language vs. State Motto you can’t understand because it only consists of one ambiguous word”.  This one is pretty much a toss-up, but I like to imagine the exhausted governor of Wisconsin closing up the office after hours, and as he’s locking the door of the building, he glances up at the state flag, sees the word “forward” and sighs because he just spent the day slashing three million dollars of essential programs out of the education budget.

Winner:  Wisconsin.  Plus, it’s the only state quarter that could potentially be worth hundreds of dollars if the ear of corn on it happens to have an extra leaf.

alaska.gif vs nebraska.gif

This one is Alaska’s game to lose, and frankly, the only way that it could lose would be if the bear on the quarter turns out to be the bear from the movie “The Bear.”  That would suck.  But it’s not.  So, the family on the Nebraska quarter makes it as far as Chimney Rock before they are torn limb from limb, their oxen devoured, their wagon tongues and wheels strewn about the Oregon Trail like so many failed westward ventures before them.  Years later, their pioneering spirit and sacrifice will be mocked by ironic hipsters (or is that guy a nerd?  It’s getting too hard to tell.)

The worst part is that Werner Herzog gets the tape of the whole thing happening, listens to it and then tells the settlers next of kin to destroy the tape and it NEVER SURFACES ON THE INTERNET!  What the hell!?!

Winner:  Alaska.  It’s lust not satiated by salmon and Nebraska settlers, the Grizzly bear sets its eyes on America’s Dairyland


Who will emerge the victor and claim the DiCaprio prize in the Most Awesome State Quarter Contest?  We’ll find out before this year is over!

Most Awesome State Quarter Championship

Our journey began 11 months ago to the day. But the true State Quarter journey traces back in 1999, when each state took five finalists, whittled it down to to a selection of varying quality (god knows what Ohio’s four rejected ones looked like…), and released it upon the unsuspecting masses.  Though each quarter was designed by a talented person/committee, or in Minnesota’s case, plagiarized by a talented person/committee, once we began pairing them up here, it was quite obvious that some had what it takes to advance and some did not.

We started with fifty, and ended up with two.  Here’s where we are now:


alaska1.gif vs wisconsin.gif

The final State Quarter battle really sums up the state of Awesomeness in 2008.  Which is truly more awesome?  The Alaska quarter, with it’s giant, murderous bear, really speaks to what you considered awesome as a child.  Big, scary and legitimately impressive.  It’s the quarter that Calvin & Hobbes would have designed.  Sixth-grade-me, who had notebooks with Ferrari’s on them and thought it didn’t get any cooler than gathering around a stereo with friends to listen to Axl Rose’s profanity laced rant on “Get in the Ring” quiet enough so your parents couldn’t hear it would have loved the Alaska quarter. But then you get a bit older, probably right around middle school, you spend some time on the internet and all of a sudden you realize:  Wait a second…Awesome things aren’t awesome…Things that suck are awesome!

The Wisconsin quarter embodies this cynical, ironic, internet-age definition of awesome.  The kind of awesome that means watching foul mouthed 12 year olds review movies on youtube, relishing in the Beverly Hills Chihuahua trailer, or even a guy playing ukelele/kazoo/keytar covers of The Final Countdown.  A big cow head, a wheel of cheese, and a banner with a single word that seemingly contradicts the presence of both of those items adds up to a great big stew of awesome.  As I’ve said before, Wisconsin is the only quarter that I would wear on a t-shirt.

So what is more awesome?  Something that is actually awesome, or something that sucks so much that it’s awesome?  The answer lies in “Get in the Ring”.  Listening to the song for the first time in years, I’m amazed that a song like this was ever released, let alone on a multimillion selling album by one of the most popular bands of all time.  It’s sprawling, vulgar, maniacal, unintentionally hilarious and impossible to take seriously – unless you’re a sixth grade boy.  And as I listened to it all the way through for the second time this afternoon with a big grin on my face, I decided that I didn’t like this because it sucks…I liked it because it ruled in sixth grade and it rules now!  So this time around, I’m going to embrace the trulyawesome. Go to hell, irony!!!

The winner of the Most Awesome State Quarter competition is Alaska. Nobody’s getting in the ring with that bear.  Not even Axl.



Most Awesome State Quarter – Alaska

State Quarter DiCaprio Medal


And just in case you actually listened to “Get in the Ring” all the way through and need a palate cleanser/warm shower, click on Santa Schnappi for some holiday cheer:

Santa Schnappi

Merry Christmas everyone!



One thought on “The Most Awesome State Quarter Tournament

  1. Good times, good times. Miss the old Rifftrax blog. But you’re right, Conor, as much as I love snarky internet awesome, too, at the end of the day real awesome rules.

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