There is so much to love about the Carolina Hurricanes playoff run, but when it comes to sheer adorableness, it’s hard to top the emergence of a certain accidental celebrity, Hamilton the Pig.
Most of the time, Hamilton, known as Hami to his friends, is busy living his best life. He resides in Raleigh with his mom and dad, Kyle Eckenrode and fiancee Karoline Briggs; his brother Zé (pronounced Zay), an Australian Shepherd; and eight chickens. He has a big, shady yard to trot around in and he gets the run of the sun room when it’s time to bunk down. He gets all the carrots and fresh grapes and pomegranates he can eat.
But when he’s not living the charmed life of one of the luckiest pigs on earth, Hami is the wagon-riding potbellied good luck charm who has been there for the Canes for each of their playoff wins.
On a whim, Kyle took Hami to visit tailgaters outside PNC Arena for Game 3 of the Canes’ first round against the Washington Capitals on April 15. The Canes, trailing in the series 2-0 at that point, won. Kyle and Hami went back for Game 4. The Canes won again.
Back in Washington, luck turned and the Capitals crushed the Canes. (Needless to say, Hami was not there.)
For Game 6 in Raleigh, Hami was invited to be a special guest of the team. You got it: the Canes won.
The series tied at 3 games each, the team traveled back to D.C. for the seventh and final game last Wednesday.
Kyle and Karoline decided that even though they couldn’t take Hami to the game, they wanted to be there in the same city and try to bring the team more luck.
Hami toured the capital city in his special wagon, and later rested while Kyle and Karoline watched the game at a restaurant with an outdoor patio and bar. The game went into overtime, but no one scored. During the second overtime, Karoline said they mentioned to fellow bar patrons that they were the parents of Hamilton the Pig. The crowd was excited and wanted to meet him.
They brought Hamilton in, and according to Karoline, almost as soon as he entered the crowd, the Canes scored.
So don’t try to tell us this pig isn’t 90 solid pounds of good luck.
The team and thousands of fans seem to agree. I mean, you don’t look a gift pig in the mouth, so if Hamilton is bringing the team a little extra mojo, more Hamilton, please!
Hami’s Instagram account (@HamiltonDTR) had 150 followers last Monday before he attended his first playoff game. Less than two weeks later — after being heralded by the NHL, The Washington Post and the “Today” show — he has 2,000 followers and counting. (Washington Capitals fans got a little salty with Hamilton on social media, but he got the last laugh.)
When Hami appears in public, he gets tons of head scratches and he poses for countless photos. It’s safe to say he’s the most-photographed actual pig in the state.
Canes defenseman Dougie Hamilton counts himself among Hamilton the Pig’s fans.
“It’s cool that we share the same name and maybe a little resemblance,” Hamilton the Hockey Player told us via a text message. “It was fun meeting him at PNC Arena and I hope he continues to bring us good luck.”
The hustle and bustle of his new lifestyle has Hami on the go quite a bit, making appearances to greet fans and tolerating nosy reporters and photographers trailing him through his Raleigh yard. His new schedule is keeping his “mom” and “dad” on their toes as well. Kyle, a real estate agent with Carpenter Group, and Karoline, who works for Diamonds Direct, are constantly scrambling to meet Hami’s social obligations.
“The fans love Hamilton, so we’re doing this for the fans,” Karoline said. “We’re big Hurricanes fans and have really loved watching them be successful, and if Hamilton helps them just that much more, then I think it’s really good for everybody.”
Hamilton — 1 year, 8 months and 5 days old on Friday — plans to chill in Raleigh for Friday night’s Game 1 against the NY Islanders, which takes place in Brooklyn. He’ll likely watch from Carolina Ale House on Glenwood Avenue. He thinks he’ll be in Raleigh for Game 2 on Sunday (also in New York) as well, but a celebrity pig can’t really commit to scheduling more than a day or so in advance.
When the Canes return to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4 on May 1 and May 3, he’ll definitely be at the PNC, greeting fans, cheering for the team and spreading his good luck mojo. And eating carrots, of course.
Five Questions with Hamilton the Pig
A short Q&A from our morning spent with Hami at his home in Raleigh.
1. How are you handling this sudden fame?
I mean, it’s cool being famous and all. The carrots are limitless and who doesn’t want limitless carrots!
2. What is your relationship with Stormy?
Me and Stormy attended the same farm back in the day. He was a little older than me and watched over me when I was a piglet. So I’m happy I can return the favor with the good luck!
3. Do you feel pressure to deliver the good luck for the Canes now?
All we do is win win win! I like to think my good luck is helping, but let’s be honest: the Canes are amazing at home and always kill it during Game 7! I just really love carrots.
4. Did all the bacon and roasting pig tweets from Caps fans hurt your feelings?
LOL Caps fans. Nice try. You can’t rattle the playoff pig. We came. We saw. We conquered. Thanks, next.
5. Who is your favorite Canes player?
People ask me this a lot. But the truth is I love all the Canes. Might have a little crush on that pig girl that’s walking around, though.