Auburn man wins

Elvis competition

BRUNSWICK (AP) – A Maine man has won an international Elvis Presley impersonator competition, and he’s the first black man to do it.

But that didn’t mean Robert Washington got to sleep late Tuesday morning. Hours after returning by bus from Memphis, Washington was up at 5:30 a.m. for his day job in the paint department at Bath Iron Works.

Washington, 45, of Auburn, emerged at the top of a field of 55 contestants and tribute artists in Memphis Saturday, singing “That’s All Right, Mama” and “Jailhouse Rock” while clad in a white jumpsuit.

Other contestants came from the United States, Canada, Finland, England, Scotland, Australia and Sweden. The “Images of the King Contest” started in 1987, the 10th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

Washington won the competition on Aug. 16, the date of Elvis Presley’s death and, coincidentally, Washington’s birthday.

Rainie Doughty of Limington, who wore a T-shirt with Washington’s picture and his autograph on it, was among a small group of family and friends that met when he returned by bus Monday night.

Washington sang “Today, Tomorrow and Forever” and “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” last year when Doughty and her husband renewed their wedding vows for their 40th anniversary.

Like many who don the jumpsuit, Washington doesn’t like being called an Elvis “impersonator.”

“An Elvis fan will say he’s a ‘tribute artist,”‘ Doughty said. “And Robert, by far, is an Elvis fan.”

Washington came to Maine from Missouri while he served in the Marine Corps and was stationed at Brunswick Naval Air Station. His wife, Liz Washington, said he began performing Elvis songs in the late 1980s.

He had come in second place several times. Now that he has won first place, he won’t be allowed to compete again.

Washington said he did not know if he would book more performances after his winning performance. He has performed nearly every weekend this year, from oceangoing cruises to a Brunswick bowling alley.

AP-ES-08-19-03 1459EDT


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