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Vestal: UI law student beefs up résumé

Fri., Oct. 8, 2010

 Luke Howarth, a Cosmopolitan magazine Bachelor Blowout contestant, slips out of the grasp of a defender while playing flag-football with friends  Thursday on UI’s campus in Moscow, Idaho.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
Luke Howarth, a Cosmopolitan magazine Bachelor Blowout contestant, slips out of the grasp of a defender while playing flag-football with friends Thursday on UI’s campus in Moscow, Idaho. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

Luke Howarth’s entry into the big time of beefcake has brought support from family and fellow students at the University of Idaho law school.

And from his buddies, too, of course.

“I’ve been getting just loads and loads of crap from my friends,” Howarth said.

Well, Luke, that’s what happens when Cosmopolitan magazine declares you hot and sticks your shirtless photo – as well as your views on “chick traits” and “manscaping” – on the interwebs.

The rest of us hairy, slop-bellied men hate you for it.

Howarth is Idaho’s candidate in Cosmo’s Bachelor of the Year contest. A 23-year-old Boise native in his first year of law school, he’s in the running for the top prize of $10,000, a $5,000 wardrobe and Cosmo’s official title as its “most datable” guy.

You can vote for Howarth online at If you haven’t looked at the Cosmo website, I’ll just note that it’s full of useful information about what your man wants. And yes, I did cast a vote for Howarth, not because we’re both Southern Idaho natives or because we share a UI connection, but because he is, in fact, super hot. At least according to a couple of my co-workers who closely examined the photograph of a shirtless, chiseled Howarth.

The winner will be announced Tuesday night. He figures his odds are long, given that he’s one of 51 contestants and he’s representing a state with a small population. On the other hand, people can vote daily, and “All my friends and family have really been supportive and out there rallying the troops,” he said.

I don’t think Vegas is laying odds on this one, but one early indicator puts Howarth at the top of a sub-category: Cosmo-approved law students. The legal website Above the Law asked readers to pick the “hottest legal eagle” in the contest – Howarth’s one of three and was mentioned as a favorite.

He and the other contestants will be flown to New York City on Sunday for a few days of sightseeing, media appearances – including the “Today” show – and the awards banquet Tuesday night. With a full schedule of rigorous first-year law classes, Howarth will have to squeeze in some reading and writing on the plane.

“It’ll be tough to miss class, but it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” Howarth said.

Not to be a complete homer here, but I’m pulling for him. It’s time for someone to replace Larry Craig as the nation’s primary image of Idaho manhood. And it’s nice to have a little positive news out of the region’s college campuses, as beaten and battered as they are lately by cuts. On this front – the Department of Cheesecake/Beefcake – it’s actually been quite the fruitful year.

Besides Howarth’s Cosmo appearance, a Washington State University psych major, Michelle Wittenberg, of Olympia, is appearing in the current issue of Playboy. Girls of the Pac-10. A couple of UW women are in there too. Or so I’ve heard. I didn’t verify this myself – though it has been widely reported in other media outlets – and am not suggesting that you do so, either. I’ll just leave it at the fact that Wittenberg, in an interview with the student newspaper, the Daily Evergreen, has said it was a longtime dream to appear in the magazine and it’s been a positive experience.

But it’s Howarth’s role in Cosmo that feels like the more culturally relevant piece of cake. Playboy, after all, is old-school – naughty in an age of the outrageous. But the elevation of the bachelor, from TV shows to magazines to the Web, seems especially of the moment.

As Above the Law put it, “Objectifying men is hot right now.”

And the best part is, men don’t really mind it.

Howarth grew up in Boise, playing baseball at Centennial High and then the College of Idaho. Now that his baseball career has ended, he’s taken up golf, he said. In fact, he was out golfing and celebrating his birthday on May 14 when the call came that he’d been chosen. His sister had entered him in the contest earlier, after overcoming his initial resistance.

“At first, I thought, ‘Naw, I don’t really want to have anything to do with that,’ ” he said. “Then she told me if you win you get $10,000 and a $5,000 gift card to Express, and that piqued my interest a little bit.”

Howarth and other candidates were flown to Malibu in June for a photo shoot at a home there.

“Neil Diamond was a next-door neighbor, and that was kind of cool,” Howarth said. “He came out and talked to us a little bit.”

That’s where the photo that greets Cosmo visitors was made. He said he was surprised at all the off-camera activity involved in the shoot – a photographer surrounded by a gang of makeup people and assistants, all waiting and watching, waiting and watching.

“It was just me standing there,” he said. “And them saying, ‘Act natural.’ ”

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or

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